Playing with Legos While the World Burns

by lizard

I have discussed issues of class and privilege in numerous posts here, using my own experiences as a privileged white male to describe how privilege like mine is best summed up by things that didn’t happen to me growing up.

By virtue of marriage my privilege increased. Sell off a parcel of inherited property, pay off student loans and a mortgage. We are essentially debt free and able to provide easily for our kids. My big weak spot is Legos. I have to work at exercising restraint when it comes to buying Lego sets because I don’t want my kids to be spoiled brats riding their daddy’s Lego addiction.

I have discussed Legos in a few posts here, so I feel obligated to provide a link to this very well done and depressing fake LEGO ad showing the Arctic drowning in an oil spill. The fake ad is part of a campaign to get the Lego corporation to drop it’s partnership with Shell oil.

My Lego weakness is a big plastic target for attack. My ability to afford Legos, same. Why? Because I criticize crony-capitalism and it’s resulting environmental degradation while spending hours assembling Lego worlds with my kids in a room dedicated just for Legos.

So why am I writing about toys and my privileged economic status?

The investigation into the Fox Club shooting is what has me again thinking about privilege again. The three week investigation has now been turned over to the county attorney’s office. They are still not releasing the name of the shooter, but the shooter’s identity is known to many who are following this case. The shooter’s daddy is also known, and daddy owns a big construction company here in Missoula.

What’s emerging reminds me of the affluenza case the 24 hour news cycle consumed back in February. Here’s a quick summation of that case:

A judge on Wednesday ordered that Ethan Couch — who drove drunk and caused a crash, killing four people and injuring two — go to a lock-down residential treatment facility.

State District Judge Jean Boyd had already decided the Texas teenager would serve no jail time. He was sentenced last year to 10 years’ probation.

His story made national headlines after a witness claimed Couch was a victim of “affluenza” — the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits for the boy.

Do we have something similar here? Is the shooter a spoiled bully who has been insulated from the consequences of his actions because daddy bails him out of trouble? And because daddy has deep pockets, is that why this investigation is taking so long? Are detectives, and now the county attorney’s office, being extra careful because they know they will be going against the best representation money can buy?

The county attorney’s office got all the materials related to the investigation on Tuesday, but there is no timeline for when charges may be brought against this punk.

The Missoulian, in its reporting of this shooting, is now aligned with witness accounts:

The shooter, described only as a 27-year local man, pulled a revolver from his truck and shot 23-year-old Christopher Michael Hymel, a Louisiana resident in town visiting his girlfriend’s family, once in the chest. Hymel was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.

Witnesses said Hymel had stepped to the window of the man’s truck to discuss the vulgar comments the man had made toward two of Hymel’s female companions.

A fight ensued through the passenger window of the man’s truck. When Hymel stepped back to remove an article of clothing, witnesses told the Missoulian, the man allegedly stepped from his truck, shut his door, raised his revolver and shot Hymel in the chest.

The Missoulian initially reported the shooter was inside the truck when the fatal shot was fired, but that inaccurate account has been scrubbed and replaced. The truth is slowly coming out.

Now, our community will get to see what the privilege of money and influence can buy.

Back in March, I wrote about the return of the debtor’s prison, and in that post I linked to a Nation article about The Town That Turned Poverty Into a Prison Sentence. If you didn’t read the article at the time, please do so now. It’s a stark contrast to this fatal shooting incident where the shooter has had the privilege of not being taken to jail, not being charged for an obvious crime three weeks after the incident, and has not even been named by the media.

I don’t think issues of privilege and class are discussed enough, especially by those who benefit from privilege. When it is brought up, it’s often to undercut some silly righteous stand one may take against little problems, like destroying the planet’s ability to sustain human life.

In the comments of this post, Mark agreed with a sign that read, in part:


In response, one of 4&20’s more adept trolls had this to say:

Huh? You have made your life from profiting from capitalism, you are hooked on capitalistic products such as your I devices, live in a home built by capitalism, and consume food produced/sold by capitalistic businesses such as Whole Foods. So, just how are you fighting for a socialist future when you are quite comfortable living out your days from the fruits of capitalism?

That comment should also be directed at those socialist heirs of Rockefeller who have joined the fossil fuel divestment movement. Cynical renewable energy market opportunity or genuine self-interest-driven worry that overwhelming scientific consensus may be right, and the oil party is over? I’m not sure that matters much if the move is in the right direction.

I initially wrote that second to last sentence to read their oil party, then changed it to the because—to bring it back to beginning of this post—Legos, and the high probability I won’t be abstaining from buying them at Target. Or from Ebay. Or if anyone wants to meet me in the parking lot of Target, I’m willing to pay $100 dollars a pound.

What I plan on doing with those Legos is play, with my kids, making our own stuff and developing non-binary story lines where Galaxy Squad aren’t always the good guys and the Insects are sometimes hostile, but that’s mostly because Galaxy Squad acts arrogantly and for some odd reason feels entitled to taking what doesn’t actually belong to them.

In conclusion, I offer this picture of…a Lego holder for my iPhone.


  1. Craig Moore

    Naomi Klein is wagging her finger at you.

    It’s not that the green groups were spectators to this – they were partners in this. They were willing participants in this. It’s not every green group. It’s not Greenpeace, it’s not Friends of the Earth, it’s not, for the most part, the Sierra Club. It’s not, because it didn’t even exist yet. But I think it goes back to the elite roots of the movement, and the fact that when a lot of these conservation groups began there was kind of a noblesse oblige approach to conservation. It was about elites getting together and hiking and deciding to save nature. And then the elites changed. So if the environmental movement was going to decide to fight, they would have had to give up their elite status. And weren’t willing to give up their elite status. I think that’s a huge part of the reason why emissions are where they are.

    At least in American culture, there is always this desire for the win-win scenario. But if we really want to get to, say, an 80 percent reduction in CO2 emissions, some people are going to lose. And I guess what you are saying is that it’s hard for the environmental leadership to look some of their partners in the eye and say, “You’re going to lose.”

  2. If they made Legos out of hemp we’d have something.

    • Craig Moore

      Would that be like ‘rope-a-dope?’

      • Steve W

        No, more like science.

        Superstition and witchcraft aside, lets rely on data over emotion, OK?

        I know your income is prohibition derived, but lets separate your income from the mix. It’s easy, if you wanna.


        How many times have you smoked cannabis, Craig?

  3. Pogo Possum

    Lizard. Just one problem with your post. The shooter’s parents do not own a construction company. Same last name but a different family.

    Email me if you want details.

  4. JC

    Get Lost for Good! At the Missoula Maze

    “The layout of the maze was mapped out using a Lego set belonging to Ellingson’s 4-year-old son.”

    What could be more fun than that for a Lego addict and his family?!

    • lizard19

      funny story. we tried going to the corn maze yesterday, but the hours were 12-5 and we got there at 6pm. my oldest was quite upset, but through the tears he tried to offer a cure for his disappointment: get a Lego set. I did not give in…trying to act like an adult ;)

  5. James Maxie

    You will forever be the biggest hero that ever lived.

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