We’re not even two weeks into 2017 and we already have our fair share of horrible events to deal with, the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting among them. But there’s another incident that blew up on social media last week.
In Chicago, four people (three of them teenagers) kidnapped a special needs teenager, tied him up, and then proceed to verbally and physically assault him. Among other things, one of them shouted “fuck Donald Trump” and “fuck white people” during the incident. After four or five hours of being tied up, the teen was released and was later found by police wandering the streets bloody and confused.
The attackers streamed the entire event on Facebook Live. Because apparently they were competing for the title of “Worst Humans Ever”.
In the aftermath of the event, the four have been charged with a hate crime. But that’s actually not what I’m here to talk about today, because we all know what they did was horrible and we all know they are despicable people. That isn’t even up for debate. What I’m here to talk about today was the social media reaction to the event. What I’m here to talk about today is stuff like this:
Yep. After news of the event broke, people on the far right of the political spectrum jumped at the chance to use it to push their views. Now, I can’t really say for sure if this meme was made and posted before the four were charged, but it seems to me that if that’s the case, then they didn’t even give things a chance to play out. And this isn’t the only thing the far right did. They also pointed the finger at Black Lives Matter, with the hashtag “#BLMKidnapping” becoming one of the top five trending Twitter hashtags across the country last Thursday. It got so bad that the Chicago Police Department even issued a statement saying that Black Lives Matter has no connection with the events.
And you know what? If the attackers were white and Black Lives Matter jumped on the case, we’d likely get a whole bunch of people saying “well this doesn’t represent all white people…don’t judge us all based on the actions of just a few.” I mean they’re absolutely right. The actions of just four people do not represent the whole. So then why does the actions of these four black people suddenly color the entirety of the Black Lives Matter movement when there isn’t even a connection? Why does that defense work one way but not the other?
There have been plenty of times when white perpetrators got off with lightened sentences. There’s the Brock Turner case. There’s the David Becker case. But more poignantly there’s the Antwon McDaniel case, where three football players at a small town Idaho school assaulted a teammate using a coat hanger that they shoved up his rectum. And in that case, at least one of the players won’t even be getting jail time because he took a plea.
And yes, the three perpetrators were white and the victim was black. Not only that, but the victim was disabled and required the use of a wheelchair.
Now, every case is different and it isn’t always easy or even possible to prove that a crime was racially charged (although a lot of witness in the McDaniel case have come forward and shed light on the racial implications of the event). Despite that though, I’m willing to bet that a lot of the people who immediately pointed the finger at Black Lives Matter following the Chicago case would have immediately jumped to the “it’s not all white people” defense in these other cases.
Oh and as for the reasoning in that picture I posted earlier, the one that claimed this event would get far more attention if the attackers were white? I hadn’t even heard of the McDaniel story until just yesterday. Every case is different. Plenty of horrible events don’t get the publicity that they should.
But the worst part of the whole situation is that the special needs kid who suffered for hours at the hands of these individuals didn’t even get any sympathy. Nowhere on Facebook did I see any of these right-wing people posting about how horrible it must have been to go through such a thing or how sorry they felt for the kid. No, it was all just “share if you think this is a hate crime” or “oh if the attackers were white liberals would be all up in arms about it.” For them it wasn’t about that kid for one second. No, it was about pushing their own agendas and trying to make a point.
In doing my research for this post, I found hardly any information about the victim. All I know is that he is a teenager and has “diminished mental capability”. As someone who has been technically diagnosed with a mental disorder, this pisses me off. People took this kid’s suffering and they publicized it for their own ends. They took it and they posted it in their little groups just so they could go “ha ha liberals are so dumb”.
No one even knows his damn name. How pathetic is that?
Now let me take a step back and say that, to be fair, maybe no one knows his name because the family didn’t want it in the news. Maybe they just wanted to be left alone. But it still doesn’t excuse the fact that instead of taking a moment to feel sorry for the kid, they took the tragedy and politicized it for their own ends.
The most ironic thing about the whole situation is that the same people who are using this event to argue a point about race are also the same people who readily complain “it’s always racism…everyone uses racism as an excuse…that’s what’s wrong with this country.” It’s hypocritical as hell. It wasn’t enough that this was a terrible tragedy that happened to a defenseless, special needs kid. No, it had to become ammunition in a long, stupid war between political ideologies. It had to become a tool to bolster their views, to convince themselves that they’re right and anyone who thinks differently is wrong.
Now, before anyone makes the argument, no I am not saying this is exclusive to the conservative worldview. I am aware that at times liberals are guilty of the same thing. But pointing at someone else and saying “well they do it too” like an eight-year-old doesn’t excuse what you’re doing or make it any better. You really want to prove the virtue of your worldview? Be the better person. Don’t stoop to their level. Don’t resort to their tactics. Rise above it. Because as long as you act in a way that you would criticize others for, you are nothing but a hypocrite. End of story.
Well that was probably the angriest rant I’ve written in a while. I hope I at least made it clear where I was coming from, even if you don’t agree with my sentiments.
Check back next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.
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