Sunday, November 1, 2009


A Huffington Post post complains about over-cautious media coverage of the California gang-rape and speculates that coverage would be far more aggressive was it "a 15 year old middle class girl was gang raped by black and Latino men outside a suburban homecoming dance."

The incident is, itself, frightening. The attack went on for more than two hours, with dozens of witnesses, some of whom encouraged the attackers, none of whom notified authorities. The victim was a church-going honors student.

Through their pastor, the her family has requested:
Please do not respond to this tragic event by promoting hatred or by causing more pain. We have had enough violence already in this place. If you need to express your outrage, please channel your anger into positive action.
An LA Times column notes:

...Richmond High students want outsiders to stop calling them animals and savages. "We feel like they're blaming the school," an angry senior complained at a school board meeting I attended Wednesday night. "It wasn't nobody's fault," she said. "People shouldn't be pointing fingers."

And school officials are making sure to emphasize the tragedies that didn't happen.

The homecoming dance "was a success in terms of safety because nothing happened at the event," a campus police officer announced. "We have a safe environment at Richmond High."
The troublemakers at Richmond are emulating what they see in popular culture. "A lot of them, they don't think they're going to be successful," said junior Olachi Obioma. "They've already been judged, so they go with that. They drink, they smoke, they pop pills. It's the 'bad boy' culture. That's how they see themselves."
Or they didn't intervene because they didn't know the girl and didn't feel compelled to help a stranger. On a big, racially mixed campus like Richmond, you stick with your own and mind your business.

Reading between the lines of the reporting, there is some reason to believe that the victim was white. If so, exceedingly cautious reporting is very much called for.

However responsible the reporting, as the facts emerge, the concerns of the Richmond High students will be well founded. If the past is a guide, well meaning people will, then, accuse any who do not believe "this could have happened anywhere" of prejudice. That narrative will not sell: Parents will not easily be convinced that it is bigotry to believe their own community's sons better raised.

If the more damaging, ethnic, narrative takes hold, it would be more tragic for being untrue.

I have previously posted about the social cost of the view that teaches people -- like Olachi Obioma -- to blame an unjust society for their own lack of achievement. In the end, we -- and not some alien culture -- are the ones who taught these kids that their behavior is not their responsibility.

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