Selective Outrage Is A Big Part of America’s Problem With Race

selective outrage

Four people accused of torturing a mentally disabled man were charged with a hate crime and aggravated kidnapping, among other charges, in Chicago. The attack was streamed live on Facebook.

The disturbing 30-minute video shows a man tied up and his mouth covered, cowering in the corner of room. His attackers laugh and shout “f*ck Donald Trump” and “f*ck white people” as they kick and punch him and cut into his forehead with a knife.

This is cut and dry. After committing this horrible crime, these four teenagers will likely be tried and convicted if not plea bargained out as they should be. So what’s the problem? Selective outrage is the problem.

Selective Outrage

Less than a month prior to this act in Chicago 18-year-old John R.K. Howard, after forcibly raping a mentally disabled teammate with a coat hanger in 2015,  took a plea deal to avoid jail time for his unspeakable actions. Howard, along with two other members of his high school football team in Dietrich, Idaho, sexually assaulted their African-American teammate Antwon McDaniel in the locker room of their Idaho high school last October. Facing the possibility of life in prison should he have been convicted at trial, Howard plead guilty to “forcible sexual penetration by use of foreign object,” the Twin Falls Times-News reports.

While in court, Howard accepted the charge and will be sentenced to two to three years of probation and will be required to serve more than 300 hours of community service. Should he complete his sentence without violation of probation or committing any future crimes, he could have his conviction eradicated completely. Any violation of the probation terms could result in Howard serving 10 years in prison with a fine of up to $50,000.

Howard received his official charge in May, after McDaniel testified that the group of teens subdued him in the locker room one day after practice, under the pretenses that the boys wanted to give him a hug. After being lured in, a fellow athlete shoved a coat hanger into his anus, while Howard proceeded to kick the hanger “five or six times” for deeper penetration.

The Idaho Deputy Attorney General Casey Hemmer told the courts on Friday that while Howard needs to be “held accountable” for his actions against McDaniel, his office doesn’t “believe it’s appropriate for Mr. Howard to suffer the consequences of a sex offender.” Hemmer went on to claim that there was no racial motivation behind Howard’s actions.

“I will say that there are things that we found going around that school and that locker room involving a lot of the parties here that had racial undertones,” he stated. “But it’s not our belief that this was a racially motivated crime. This was more of a vulnerable-victim-motivated crime. I think it probably would have happened to anybody that was in the same kind of circumstances and mental state as the victim here.”

A local group, Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence, reacted to the plea charge in a statement which expressed disappointment for the lack of Howard’s acknowledgment of committing the act of sexual assault and Hemmer’s “egregious” claim that race did not play a part in the crime.

“The young man who was brutally violated by three high school students has multiple identities that made him a target – his black skin and his disability that made him ‘vulnerable’ and viewed as less than our dominant culture ‘ideal’ of masculinity,” the post read. “Deputy Attorney General Hemmer’s actions and statements dehumanizes the young man who was heinously penetrated and fuels and sanctions our culture of sexism, racism, able-ism, domination, aggression, and violence, and in turn, the Office of the Idaho Attorney General is complicit in state-sanctioned sexism, racism, able-ism and violence. Nothing short of a complete retraction by the Attorney General of Hemmer’s outrageous actions and statements and immediate action against Hemmer will be acceptable.”

Where was the universal outrage here? Do you think the perpetrators in Chicago will get the benefit of the doubt that this young man got in Idaho? We know the answer already. Both crimes are absolutely despicable, but only one has received national media attention. Why? Because we suffer from selective outrage. We are not as angry when the victims are black, and we are particularly perturbed when the perpetrators are black. By we, I mean the majority of Americans which should read “white people.”

There are countless, “if this victim was black and the offenders white there would be riots,” proclamations. The answer is no there wouldn’t, as those making that claim are obviously suffering from selective outrage. You can look at these two cases and the reaction to them to see that universal condemnation depends upon who commits the crime and whom the crime is committed against. While it shouldn’t matter whether the victim is made to drink from a toilet or raped with a coat hanger, it does depend upon the race of who did it and of who it was done to.

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