Sunday, September 23, 2007

Being Reasonable Is A Strategic Mistake

That's the message I got loud and clear when I saw this headline on Google News: The Real Racists In the "Jena Six"? Al Sharpton and Jessie Jackson - Evening Bulletin. This link takes me to a story by Chris Freind in The Bulletin which has the subtitle: Philadelphia's Family Newspaper.

This headline and the premise behind it is all the more disturbing because it echoes what I've seen in the headlines for white supremacist blogs. The only difference is that the self-proclaimed white supremacists omit the question mark and they use a more offensive descriptor than black. This author goes to the edge and then steps back from it slightly as if that nullifies going to the edge.

Because the author of the story heard it was true, he felt confident writing: "The issue at hand is the arrest of six black students who nearly beat a white student to death." Yet this claim is easily contradicted:

[DA] Walters also said the beating victim has been largely ignored. He was knocked unconscious and his face was badly swollen and bloodied, although he was able to attend a school function that night.

I'm reminded of the quote "If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed."

The implication from this Google News headline is clear.

Whites hanging nooses round the old oak* tree at the public high school that used to be for whites-only are harmless racists. When that is followed allegedly by a white pulling a gun on blacks that isn't racist. But when that is followed allegedly with a crime committed by blacks against a white, that is racist.

Generalizing based on accusations against white men is racist, generalizing based on accusations against black men is not.

Using the premise that bigger and more outrageous is better, here is how I believe the "blacks are the real racists" crowd would have handled the Jena 6 if they were whites accused of an attack on a black student.

1) No matter what evidence exists do not concede that a crime might have been committed by any of the defendants or any of their friends. Injustice against those who might be guilty of a lesser crime doesn't sell as well with the media or the general public. This is a winner take all fight.

2) In the label used to describe the case include the word hoax. Jena Six has no emotional kick. Jena Hoax has an emotional kick. Say it and write it as if this label has been proven.

3) When the word hoax isn't appropriate or you simply want to write it another way, call it the Jena non-attempted murder case.

4) Find all the different accounts of what happened and look for contradictions and changes in the description of what happened and plug them into a minute-by-minute timeline. Don't worry if these contradictions and changes are essentially meaningless since people rarely synchronise their watches around a crime and one person sees a punch while another sees a shove. Differences are proof that someone is lying, matches are proof that witnesses worked together to get a unified account of what happened. Put all of this together into a web page or blog post making it as long and confusing as you can. State at the end that this timeline proves that at least one defendant an airtight alibi.

5) Find a picture of the alleged victim which instantly makes him look unsympathetic or dangerous.

6) Identify selfish motives, other than racism, for the DA, the alleged victim and any prosecution witnesses. Financial gain is a gimme motivation since nobody can disprove being greedy. Resentment is another freebie because again it can't be disproved by hard evidence. Is the DA going to run for re-election? There's your third motivation. If the DA declared he wasn't running then this is his last chance for glory.

7) Accuse the DA and all prosecution witnesses of conspiring. They can't prove they never conspired even if there is zero evidence of a conspiracy. Any meeting which wasn't videotaped can be spun into a potential act of conspiracy. If any meetings were recorded, insinuate that this was done in order to deliberately paint a false picture. If someone you labeled unreliable says something that helps you, relabel them as reliable.

8) If the DA did not meet with any of those who would testify in the trial, accuse the DA of rushing to judgment without a full investigation.

9) Respond to any reports of past bad behavior by any of the defendants as the reason that person was identified since that was obviously designed to make the hoax more believable.

10) Use the word "obviously" as often as possible and get as many of your allies to mimic your use of the word. When anyone disputes what you say is obvious accuse them of being stupid or supporters of the hoax.

11) Call the ID process a sham and declare that the best ID process wasn't used -- complete with pictures of fellow students who have proven alibis and teens who don't go to that school. Explain that the ID was done the way it was because the investigator knew they couldn't truly identify these defendants under a fair system.

12) Hire defense attorneys who will play the media so they get unproven claims presented as solid news. Then have the defense team quote from the news sources which quoted the defense team as if that provides you with the results of independent investigations and not just a repackaging of their own claims.

13) If you cannot deny the criminality of certain actions related to the alleged crime, then make that crime so universal that it is the criminal statute itself which is wrong. Practice this by defending a reckless driver who at 100 mph slammed into another car, killing a family of 5. "Everyone speeds so proof of speeding means nothing. Mentioning speed proves your bigotry against this defendants."

14) If people call you on the fact that you are obviously going over the top, reply with, "I'm passionately pro-justice."

15) If people call you on crossing ethical lines, reply with, "As long as prosecutors cross ethical lines, we need to be able to match them for the sake of the true victims of this hoax: the defendants."

16) Use the phrase "it is a proven fact that ..." whenever possible to characterize your speculative or even untrue claims. If enough people repeat these claims of fact often enough the general public will assume they really are proven facts.

17) For any proven facts which don't fit your hoax theory, respond with, "That is being disputed." Many people will be conned by this answer into believing that there is a valid dispute.

18) Get people to anonymously harass anyone who doesn't accept the case as being a hoax. Make those who are trying to be reasonable sound wishy-washy and try to intimidate them out of writing anything which doesn't fit your theory. Threaten them with lawsuits. The goal is to reduce the discussion to those who claim the case is a proven hoax. Everyone else must be positioned as anti-justice and racist.

19) Have people comment anonymously with the claim to have personally looked through every piece of evidence about this case. Imply that the anonymous commenter is an unbiased legal expert. Have other anonymous commenters vouch for the expertise and neutrality of the first anonymous. If any of these anonymous claims are rejected or later deleted, then rant about this on other blogs as if it is proof that the rejector supports the conspiracy.

20) Attack those who spoke out against the defendants or who spoke out against the crime the defendants were accused of committing. Demand that these people's careers be destroyed. Ignore any statements they made which can be verified as factual.

21) When the tide of media attention turns in your favor because the DA cannot say more without being charged with ethical violations, call the defendants martyrs who in no way contributed to a single person thinking they might be guilty. Describe their lives as being ruined.

22) Use "Innocent until proven guilty" to silence anyone who thinks the defendants might be guilty and to turn the alleged victim into a defacto criminal.

23) Dismiss the medical examination which show injuries as meaningless. If there are any documented injuries, make the claim that it's a proven fact that the alleged victim came to the interaction already assaulted. Someone of his own race likely inflicted the injuries in a consensual fight a la Fight Club.

24) If the case is based on witness testimony, scream about the need for DNA evidence and claim that anyone who touched the alleged victim would have left detectable traces of their DNA. If no exam was done to collect DNA evidence, call that proof that it was known there would be no DNA evidence from the defendants. State that this is obvious proof that there isn't just a lack of credible evidence, there is evidence that the defendants were framed from day one.

The bottom line in the segments of our media world where sensationalism wins, is that reasonable evidence (backed up by court rulings) that the DA is overzealous is meaningless if it isn't part of a grand conspiracy theory which dehumanizes the alleged victim. Remember, you are competing with Britney Spears or whichever celebrity has the scandal of the month. You have to create the sense that what happened was truly scandalous on a scale where this case will be mentioned for decades.

If you keep banging the hoax drum without ceasing, many people will confuse your unethical dedication for dedication to the truth either because they want to believe it or because they only listen to the headlines.

* Note: I don't know if the tree was an oak or another variety of tree, but in this model, it doesn't matter. Since the tree was cut down I declare that it was an oak tree.

Update: I left out an important step. Have anonymous or fringe groups support the death of those who are placed at ground zero of the hoax. If the case turns your way then move this support into the mainstream of your group but say that this should be the sentence given to those who make a false police report. For the sake of the real victims, of course.

According to CNN the FBI is investigating a white supremacist site which lists 5 addresses for 5 of the defendants "in case anyone wants to deliver justice."


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posted by Marcella Chester @ 12:07 AM   1 comments links to this post


At September 24, 2007 6:53 AM, Blogger Patricia Singleton said...

I realized a long time ago that the truth in a story is usually in the middle ground between the two extremes of the story.

Racist activities should be labeled as such from the motive of what happened. Racist can be against black, white, Jew, Moslem, etc. It is not exclusively black or exclusively white. It happens on both sides.


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