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« Chewbacca Head-Butts Tour Guide | Main | Voigt-Kampff Test For "Implicit Racism" »
February 03, 2007

Media Cover Up Vicious Hate Crime In California


Last Halloween in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, where neighbors put on a lavish fright fest each year, three young women left a haunted house and found themselves caught in a street brawl with a crowd of teenagers. By melee’s end, one woman’s face was fractured in 12 spots, her teeth were broken and she’d suffered partial loss of sight in one eye. Two of the women suffered brain concussions and assorted broken bones after being kicked, punched and even struck by a skateboard wielded as a weapon.

The story broke on November 3, when local Web site editor William Pearl scooped other media on LBReport.com, quoting Long Beach police spokeswoman Jacqueline Bezart as saying a crowd of black attackers hurled racial taunts (“White bitches!” “We hate whites!”) at the young women, and the police were pursuing it as a hate crime.

At the Press-Telegram in Long Beach, reporter Tracy Manzer quickly landed an exclusive interview with the victims, introducing awkward issues of race and culture rarely seen in California media. Said one victim, identified as Laura: “They asked us, ‘Are you down with it?’ We had no idea what that meant so we didn’t say anything and just walked by them up to the haunted house. They were grabbing their crotches — we didn’t know if it was a gang thing or what.”

Suddenly, newspaper editors, TV-news directors and other media faced an unsettling prospect of their own: If white-on-black hate crime is covered with an apologetic tone and references to the legacy of slavery, what’s the tone for covering black-on-white hate crime? Can a minority be a racist? And how can we, the media, get out of this?

They've gotten out of it, by and large, by their preferred method: burying the story, sanitizing it, failing to cover the trial. Even while many black writers rail against the disturbing double-standard at work here...

The piece prompted a fiery response by David Mills, a black former Washington Post reporter turned Emmy-winning screenwriter. In a letter to the popular Romenesko media blog, the Glendale-based Mills wrote: “You don’t have to be a card-carrying Klansman to point out that the L.A. Times surely would be treating this story differently if three black women had been attacked by 30 white teenagers hurling words like ‘F--- black people.’ ”

... the media has seemed blithely unconcerned about this particularly vicious example of one of their favorite subjects -- racial hatred.

Even the fact that a good samaritan witness who attempted to rescue the girls from the savage beating has been intimidated by gang members and no longer is willing to identify the thugs can't quite provoke the media into any particular interest in the story.

Borrowing from Matthew McConnaughey in A Time To Kill: Now imagine that good samaritan forced to flee his home by black gang members is black -- which he is. Still, even that isn't enough of an angle to interest the media.

I do to some extent sympathize with the media's self-made plight here. It's hard to write about racially charged issues without 1) riling up racists who just need an excuse to sound off or 2) failing to "balance" onself to the point of bloodlessness in order to avoid any possible charge of racism. ("Defensive writing," just as doctors are often prompted to perform "defensive medicine" due to the ominipresent threat of malpractice lawsuits. And like OBGYN's who bail out of the high-risk profession of delivering babies, more often than not one finds it's simply easier and less risky to avoid writing about racially-charged issues altogether.)

But if the media so worries that reporting on this story will inflame white thugs into an orgy of counter-thuggery, why is it they seem so eager to sensationalize white-on-black racial violence? Do they not have similar fears that their wholly unbalanced coverage -- portraying racial violence is a nearly uniquely white phenomenon -- won't have the effect of provoking monsters such as these?

It would be facile to claim "the media" caused these clearly dysfunctional monsters to engage in this repellent mayhem. And it it would be equally facile to suggest that negative portrayals of blacks in the media caused the dragging death of James Byrd. And yet the media does seem to buy into one of these theories and not the other.

If the media is so worried that portraying black -- or Muslim -- violence will set off thousands of white racists into racial marauding, why so little concern when the roles are reversed? And why no worry at all that constantly sending out the message that whites like to beat and stomp minorities might -- just might -- give some blacks the idea that maybe stomping in the faces of "white bitches" is a perfectly valid form of racial payback?

I always credit liberals for pushing, for forty some years, the virtue of racial tolerance, while also pushing for social scorn for those who are not racially tolerant. True enough, liberals have frequently gone too far, attempting to use charges of "racial insensitivity" to shut up their opponents in legitimiate political discussions in which race is an issue; but still, on the whole, they should be lauded for their efforts.

And true enough-- many conservatives are heroes in this cause, but I think it would be hackery of the highest order to claim that conservatives, as they've identified themselves through the decades, have been the primary proponents of racial tolerance. Yes, it was Northeastern Republicans who passed the Civil Rights Act and such over the strenuous objections of Southern Dixiecrat Democrats; but it seems to me the Republicans were on the "liberal" side of things in this respect, and the Dixiecrats on the "conservative" side. (Again-- as the labels were applied at the time.)

But liberals shy away from using the same tactics of moral suasion and social scorn to preach tolerance to minorities -- which is why black racism (and Muslim corelgionist soldiarity bordering on KKK-level xenophobia) remains more or less tolerated in this country.

Is it hate liberals oppose, or merely white hate? And if they're proud of their legacy of greatly reducing white racism in this country -- something I will unstintingly credit them for -- why are they so damnably cowardly in calling out racism when it comes from anyone who's not safely pale?

I do buy into a very soft version of racist-apologist blacks' claims that blacks simply can't be racist, because Racism = Power. True enough, white racism can cause a great deal more misery for blacks than black racism can cause for whites; there are a lot more whites, after all, and whites disproportionately control the levers of economic power.

But just because black racism has less potential for widespread harm does not mean it's not also evil. And it's hardly a victimless crime. Just ask those three women who had the "power" that night as they were pummeled to the point of maiming for committing the greivous sin of Walking While White.

Via Kaus, who wonders wheter hate-crime laws ameliorate racial tensions, as is usually claimed, or exacerbate them, by turning simple, vicious evil into competitive sport of racial greivance "can you top this."

I'm not terribly curious about the question, because I think hate-crime laws are jackass on a fundamental level. I think those poor women are rather more traumatized that they were beaten to the point of permanent physical disability than the fact the crowd shouted "We hate white bitches." And the monsters who did this evil should be severely punished for their actions, not their motivations.

Bonus! Four of the Perpetrators Given Merely Probation: ...and sentenced to time served (95 days), probation, and "anger management and racial tolerance programs."

Jesus. When I read they were up on hate-crimes charges, I imagined those charges would be used to increase their sentencing, not reduce their sentences to a few dozen hours of Racial Tolerance Puppet Theater.

Beating victim Laura Schneider, 19, cried at the judge's decision.

When the young man's twin sister was to be sentenced, Deputy District Attorney Andrea Bouas returned to court wiping tears from her eyes and argued for a stronger penalty on grounds that the young woman was responsible for causing an injury that forced a victim to have surgery.

"Punishment is part of rehabilitation," the prosecutor said. "To allow a human being to do that and go home is an abomination to the justice system."


The prosecution had asked that the three siblings get nine months of detention in a youth camp. Instead they were credited with 95 days already spent in custody.

Justice is served, huh? Well at least we can take solace in the fact that our liberal judges are very concerned about black-on-white racial violence, even if our liberal media aren't.

Thanks to the Feisty One.

digg this
posted by Ace at 05:26 PM

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