Commentary on current events, politics, government, and popular culture from John Sheirer, author of the book, Make Common Sense Common Again.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's not a Contest

Stories like the one above about the 2007 murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom have been floating around the Internet lately. I agree that this was an awful, horrifying crime, no doubt. But I remember that there actually was a lot of media coverage at the time (and some of it turned out to be exaggerated and sensationalized--many of the mutilation details, for example).

But the main reason there was less media coverage than the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman wasn't primarily because of racial implications. The criminals in the Christian/Newsom case were arrested and convicted. There was at least that level of justice and closure.

But George Zimmerman killed an unarmed 17-year-old kid and hasn't even been arrested, despite obvious flaws in his account of what happened. The media has latched onto this story because it's still open-ended in so many ways. How can there be closure for anyone when the justice system failed its basic test of accountability in this case?

Race enters into the issue because the United States has a two-centuries-long history of black people being owned, abused, and murdered by white people without the appropriate consequences to those countless crimes.That still means something, no matter how many people try to dismiss that horrible part of American history as irrelevant.

My daughter and son-in-law are only a little older than the couple in the photo above, and my son is only a little older than Trayvon Martin. These crimes rock me to the core because I see my white children just as much in Trayvon's black face as in Channon and Christopher's white faces. I don't want anything like these crimes happening to anyone, regardless of race. Both or these violent cases are horrible in different ways. It's not a contest to see which case gets more media attention. Any attention to outrage against a terrible crime is a good thing, no matter who the victims or the perpetrators were.


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