The personal blog of Frank Lesko. Award-winning writer. Non-profit entrepreneur. Activist. Religious professional. Foodie. Musician. All around curious soul and Renaissance man.

See also my professional blog: The Traveling Ecumenist.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

I Did Not Shoot The Deputy

Okay, here's taking a shot at Bob Marley's "I Shot The Sheriff", assuming there is some sort of coherent meaning to it all:

Its not hard to see why Bob Marley would shoot the sheriff, or at least be accused of doing it. Sheriff John Brown was an instrument of racial oppression, and represented everything white (not brown) in post-colonial Jamaica. He delighted in killing the young seedlings of growth and justice of the impoverished, oppressed black people, before they ever had a chance to blossom and flourish.

But what's all that stuff about the deputy? Heck, he freely admits to shooting the sheriff. The whole point of contention in the song is whether or not he killed the deputy. There's never any question that he killed the sheriff. But it seems he has to account more for shooting the deputy than the sheriff.

I don't know much about Jamaican society, so this is every bit of a hunch as anything: Bob Marley IS the deputy. I don't even know if black people could have been deputies in the society Bob Marley's talking about, but assuming they could, let's explore this:

When the deputy kills the sheriff, people may have said that narrator threw his own life away. Instead of rising up and overthrowing an oppressive force in order to create a new life for himself, he has just wasted his own life as well as the life of the sheriff. Now, he's either going to hang or face prison. But it is the narrator who sees this act as a life giving sacrifice--dare we say Christ-like--in the sense that by sacrificing his life he brings about a renewed life for himself. [I'm not going to say that Christ would have approved of the murder, but just to show the paschal nature of this deed.]

When the deputy rises up and killed off his oppressive ruler, who used him as an instrument to keep his own people down, he truly affirms his own life. By shooting the Sherff he did not--as he was accused--also shoot the deputy. The deputy lives.

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