The world is constantly becoming an increasingly more dangerous place, and in this day and age, everything has a warning label. Whether it’s a hairdryer, a computer keyboard, or even a simple toy, all manufactured products and structures around us have a label stuck on the side to protect us. It seems as if at least one person has managed to hurt themselves with every product and attraction in the world. The poem “We Are Not Responsible” by Heartbeat Mueller uses a familiar format, repetition, and underlying meanings to poke fun at the rules and norms of the society every one of us strive to achieve in.
The most visually noticeable part of this poem is the format. It isn’t written in familiar stanzas with any kind of meter or complex organization, but is simply a paragraph. The poem reads like the average disclaimer on the side of the television or amusement park ride. It reads first “We are not responsible for your lost or stolen relatives. ” (Line 1). Countless other disclaimers have taught people to expect the phrase to end “lost or stolen items,” but this line reads relatives.
The unexpected causes the reader to think beyond the surface and past what is obvious. The poem leaves it open as to why the victims are losing relatives, where they may be going, what happened to them, and how they can get them back. It’s a mystery that is left unsolved and is open for interpretation. The first line establishes the tone for the rest of the reading as indifferent and cold. “They’ don’t care about what’s happening to the victims’ families, possessions, or rights.
The repetition of “we” and “our” is very vague and leads to the understanding hat they may be a governing body over a large group of people. In lines 2 – 4, “We do not endorse the causes or claims of people begging for handouts”, Mullen shows the group’s resentment of the poor who cannot support themselves while lines 8 – 9, “If you cannot understand English, you will be moved out of the way. “, emphasize disrespect and segregation of those immigrating to the country “they’ control.
They seem to believe in only helping those exactly like themselves and are accepting of being the same as everyone else. We Are Not Responsible portrays several instances of racism and profiling. Foe were detained for interrogation because you fit the profile. ” (Lines 12 – 13) shows direct profiling of people based on skin color and dress; as if anyone can be completely understood by what they are wearing. “It’s not our fault you were born wearing a gang color. ” (Lines 15 – 16) displays further profiling based on perceptions.
It is not the individual’s fault for “wearing gang colors” either. People dress the way they dress and look the way they look because of personal preference, tradition, and heritage, not necessarily gangs and terrorism. Personal rights for the citizens of our country are guaranteed by the Constitution of The United States of America, and this poem illustrates direct disregard for those rights. Muff are not presumed to be innocent if the police have reason to suspect you are carrying a concealed wallet” (lines 13 – 15) shows the disregard for personal rights.
Nearly everyone carries a wallet and that statement says the personal right to be innocent until proven guilty doesn’t apply to certain people as the government contradicts to the law of having Miranda Rights read to an individual upon arrest. Further showing they can disregard a person’s rights as they feel necessary, the poem continues to maintain complete disrespect. The statement “Please remain calm, or we can’t be held responsible for what happens to you. (lines 19 – 20), leaves the lasting impression of utter control of the people by the governing body. If the victim is given any rights at all, they can be taken away for not remaining completely calm. Disallowing any sort of protest or outspoken actions keeps the population from changing the system. Past that point, the individuals have no rights, and the government doesn’t really care what happens to the victims in the end, as long as they are silenced and don’t cause any further trouble.
After looking under the surface of a simple disclaimer, it becomes clear this poem is truly showing the government’s faults. Lacking respect for immigrants, people of color, and anyone different than their own, they don’t have any preference or protection for those they feel need to be dealt with. At this point with the government, the only way to protect one’s self is to be quiet, not carry a wallet, stay alma, speak English, not fit the profile, and definitely not wear gang colors.