The Naked Emperor

21 September 2007

The Big Top comes to Jena

Yesterday, one ring of the media circus rolled gaily into Jena, LA.

Normally there are three rings to any circus, and the media circus is no different. One ring is permanently based in Washington, DC, leaving two to travel the country. If only Brittany had been in residence, my fair state could have provided even more entertainment to the world.

But why did they roll into the sleepy little town of Jena?

Well, it seems there are allegations of "racism" there in the town.

Just so we are all on the same page, we will use definitions from Webster's online dictionary.

Racism : Main Entry: rac·ism
Pronunciation: 'rA-"si-z&m also -"shi-
Function: noun
1 : a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2 : racial prejudice or discrimination
- rac·ist /-sist also -shist/ noun or adjective

I choose definition 1 as number 2 is more specifically addressed below.

Bigot: Main Entry: big·ot
Pronunciation: 'bi-g&t
Function: noun
Etymology: French, hypocrite, bigot
: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance
- big·ot·ed /-g&-t&d/ adjective
- big·ot·ed·ly adverb

Prejudice: Main Entry: 1prej·u·dice
Pronunciation: 'pre-j&-d&s
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin praejudicium previous judgment, damage, from prae- + judicium judgment -- more at JUDICIAL
1 : injury or damage resulting from some judgment or action of another in disregard of one's rights; especially : detriment to one's legal rights or claims
2 a (1) : preconceived judgment or opinion (2) : an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge b : an instance of such judgment or opinion c : an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics
synonym see PREDILECTION

There, now we all know what we mean.

Now in this incident there is much talk about nooses being hung, then black outrage over that incident causing the assault on a white student.

In this case, I'm handicapped by not having been there in years, and being at a distance, although less than most of the nation. In short, I'm in the same boat as the media and the protesters.

But I hate being so ignorant, and decided to go looking for facts to make up my mind. I came across this, from the The Town Talk out of Alexandria, the largest paper in the area. It's a time line to the events.

What I find interesting is that the "nooses" incident happened on Sept. 1, 2006. And the assault happened on Dec. 4 2006. Pardon me but that makes any subsequent assault seem less like an act of passion or outrage. If the two were truly connected, it seems much more likely to be premeditation.

Another key feature is that the victim of the assault, Justin Barker, had no connection to the noose incident. Isn't assault on a person, just because of the color of their skin, the very definition of a hate crime?

As to the nooses, I have no clue. According to the top comment for the timeline, the nooses were for a football game, the local team was playing the "Cowboys". It is stated it was something to the effect of "hang 'em high" directed at the other team, not anything racial.

If so, it was poorly chosen. If, on the other hand, it WAS a racial message, it would be reprehensible. Not racist, according to the definition, but bigoted. And it is not, and should not be a crime.

We here in America have a little known law called the First Amendment. It gives us the right to speak freely. It does not grant us the ability to speak wisely. And this is just the sort of speech it was designed to protect. Popular speech hardly needs protecting, everybody likes it. But our founders saw fit, and rightly so, to protect UNpopular speech.

Was charging the alleged assailants racist? I find no evidence of it. If a victim chooses to press charges, and there is sufficient evidence to support those charges, it is the duty of the District Attorney to file said charges. That is a matter of law.

At one point, the alleged assailants were charged with attempted murder. Even a cursatory glance at the situation shows those charges to be unwarranted, and they were not pressed. But there does seem to be enough evidence to bring the current charges.

And are the alleged assailants guilty? I have no clue. That's a matter of fact, not law, for a jury to decide.

And while we are on the subject of the jury, one of the assailants has already been tried. Much has been made of the fact that the jury was all white. But of the 150 people receiving jury summons, only 50 showed up, and there were no blacks in that number. Sorry, but lack of performance of civic duty is not the DA's fault.

So on to the circus we go.

LOTS of people were in Jena yesterday. Why? Because they were concerned about......?

Well, if it's racism, the above definitions solve that one. Even if every allegation of the speakers and protesters is true, it's NOT racism. If so, it could be called bigotry and/or prejudice 2(1) or 2(2)c.

If they're so concerned about bigotry and prejudice, doesn't an assault on an innocent person of just because of the color of his skin count? If one is truly concerned about such things, the color of skin of perpetrator and assailant matter not.

If they were there because they care about black people, this is a bad test case.

Just a few miles down the road, in New Orleans, nearly 150 blacks have been murdered so far this year. Slaughtered. And none of these protesters or speakers say a peep. One of the attendees of the march was New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin. His concern about slaughtered blacks in his city is so deep that he considers it part of the New Orleans Brand.

And this is not a new problem. Last year, over 160 were murdered, with only 1 or 3 of the cases solved. Yet the Mayor, or Rev. Jackson, or Rev. Sharpton say nothing. Could this be because the perpetrators were also black? As is the Police Chief? As is the Mayor? As is the DA?

Perhaps this agnostic could give the reverends a refresher course in biblical studies. Something about sin and stones?

Let's assume, for a moment, that we give in to the popular protest.

As I've said before in Dam Racism, I abhor racial epithets. If we give the protesters their way, would I be allowed to beat someone of another race because a different person of that race used an epithet? Does free speech mean free battery?

So if the organizers weren't serious, why did all this happen? No clue. Media time maybe. Or power or donations.

Now I will freely admit I witnessed as little of the media coverage as I possibly could. But what I did hear and see covered the popular "truths", not mentioning the three month delay or that the beating victim was unconnected with the noose incident. And if I, as a tenth rate blogger with little time could find out these things, where is our integrity in journalism?

It seems that the writers of the movie "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence" had the media pegged way back in 1962.

"When the legend becomes fact, print the legend"

until later,


UPDATE 13:22 CDT 23 Sept.: Several blogs have linked here (Thanks, "Classical Values", "Astuteblogger" and "Red Stick Rant"!!), but with some misinformation. No, I'm not from Jena. I grew up in Lakeview, New Orleans, and call Tangipahoa Parish home now. I did get to spend considerable time in the greater Alexandria area in college 25 years ago.


At September 22, 2007 at 7:49 PM, Blogger M. Simon said...

The right of black men to beat white men unconscious when aggrieved is an inalienable right.

It needs to be protected.

The courts and Congress will do nothing. It is up to the people to force their hand.

At September 22, 2007 at 9:31 PM, Blogger .....CLIFFORD said...

M. Simon:

I think you need to read The Naked Emperor's definitions at the top of the post. Your comments seem to fit one or two of them as easily as any comments by Mr. Sharpton or Mr. Jackson.

Is this issue being minipulated and inflamed by outsiders for their own purposes? Yes. Do most of the camera-chasers really give a damn about the six black men, or the white man, or any others caught up in all this? No. Because of all of the emotion wrapped up in this case we may never know the real truth. And that, to me, is as much a tradgedy as what happened to the victims.

At September 23, 2007 at 3:57 AM, Blogger M. Simon said...

It was a joke son.

And a most insensitive one at that.

Free speech. An old American tradition.

At September 23, 2007 at 12:02 PM, Anonymous Mary said...

The right to swing your fist ends where my face begins.

but well loved saying by your friendly,

At February 16, 2010 at 4:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.


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