Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Difference

Racism is an issue in the South, but it can be difficult to explain to some folks because incidents of it are rarely placed side by side where you can see how different people and groups are treated. Now, it may have less to do with skin color than it seems, and there may be other factors at play in the following incidents. But appearances are important, especially when it comes to selective prosecution, especially when the incidents happen so close to one another, in terms of timeframe, geography, and similarity of nature. But how is something like this even explainable?

White fraternity members accused of pouring crab boil and boiling water on pledges, causing second and third degree burns, placing pledges in hospital = charges dropped. Single fraternity eliminated from campus.

Black band members accused of severely beating pledges with a wooden paddle, causing severe physical damage, placing pledges in hospital = multiple felony charges. Whole marching band suspended until investigation is complete.

Look at the coverage as well. The article about the Southern marching band continues and lists incidents going as far back as 1995. The only mention of prior acts in the fraternity article come in the comments section from people’s memories, and those comments are not covering much scope.

So, there’s your difference. Blacks and Whites misbehaving badly with wildly different results, prosecution behavior, and media coverage.

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7 comments:

patsbrother said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
patsbrother said...

Two students allege that a dozen individual members of a frat hazed them with crab boil. There is no indication that either student went to the hospital for his injuries. The alleged incident took place in April; charges were brought in May; the charges were dropped in October, five months later. Tulane suspended the entire fraternity.

Three students allege that seven members of the school marching band hazed them with beatings. Two of these students were hospitalized for their injuries. The alleged incident took place in late November; charges were brought in December; it is now two months later. Southern University, an HBCU, suspended its own marching band.

Two different districts; two different DAs; two different sets of facts; two different news sources.

I read a great deal of the comments section for the Tulane case, as you asked, and I did not come across a single similar incident listed; however, I did come across comments suggesting that charges were dismissed as to those named and not as to others because of...a lack of evidence.

The local news organization for the Baton Rouge-based Southern University includes a short history of other incidents in which marching band members were arrested for beating other marching band members in hazing incidents.

I am appalled and embarassed that you would cite these two incidents as evidence of racism. I am also angered that you would cite these incidents as evidence of selective prosecution. I am officially disgusted by your post. Without knowing more about the individual cases, the evidence in each case, or anything else, you used the feintest of differences between two cases in two different jurisdictions with two different sets of facts...you used these things to call two prosecuting offices racist.

patsbrother said...

And on good days I can spell "faint."

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

You can be disgusted all you want. There were plenty of times the fraternity ran afoul of the community, for fairly disgusting reasons. Victims did go to the hospital, and were ordered to lie to authorities. You don't handle second and third degree burns with aloe salve alone.

Yes, these are two different districts with two different DA's, etc. But they are enforcing the same state laws in the same state judicial system in the same year. The situations are even remarkably similar.

One major difference that could be playing a bigger factor than race would be that the Baton Rouge DA's office is less dysfunctional than the Orleans Parish DA's office.

Lost in this is that the BR folks are doing the right thing, but their actions feed the appearance of selective prosectuion and racism because of the ineffectiveness of OP. OP - by the way, was at the time dealing with the fallout of a black DA who was sued for firing white people from his office because they were white. Again, we see the weakest link failing the whole chain.

I wish I could view the world through the same law-and-order filter that you do. I truly wish that both incidents had happened in the same district, to truly compare side by side. Maybe, had the fraternity gotten in trouble in BR, they would have gotten the book thown at them as effectively as the band members. Maybe if the band members had gotten in trouble in OP, charges would have been dropped as well.

But until that time, we have to deal with what we have - the appearance that the white folks at the private university can get away with whatever they want, and the black band students will go to jail for the same things.

patsbrother said...

Here is an example of you misleading people to make your "points."

You allege race-based differences in media coverage. You said:

"Look at the coverage as well. The article about the Southern marching band continues and lists incidents going as far back as 1995. The only mention of prior acts in the fraternity article come in the comments section...So, there’s your difference. Blacks and Whites misbehaving badly with wildly different results...[in] media coverage."

Forget that you had to cite two different news sources to be able to point out this difference, you had to select which articles from these news sources to do it. Now, it appears the CONVERSE of your point is true.

The Baton Rouge news source listed three sets of ARRESTS going back to 1995 in which SU marching band members BEAT other marching band members in hazing incidents. Which is EXACTLY the same crime the seven members are charged with now.

Oh, "The only mention of prior acts in the fraternity article come in the comments section..." Yet you turn around and cite a new article on the Tulane frat which is LONGER than the one about the marching band and includes prior acts that ARE NOT on point: namely rape and a hit and run...GOING BACK TO 1996. And I believe you read THIS article before you made your original post, because you said the Tulane students went to the hospital for their injuries, which was not in the original Tulane article you cited, but was in the new one. Which means you knew this information was out there. Plus, this big honking article, about unrelated crimes and hazing that didn't involve crab boils, was released ONE DAY after the arrests.

Tell me you can see why I am pissed off why you would use this as evidence of racist media coverage. First, you misled us; second, the information contained in these articles does not support your incendiary conclusions.

patsbrother said...

Also, you ADMIT that the DA prosecuting the Black SU students was probably doing the right thing, and that the DA who dismissed the charges against the White Tulane students did so because of issues unrelated to race. Cool. Now you say you were only talking about "appearances."

I call shenanigans. You're covering your ass because you know you were waxing pathetic.

"Racism is an issue in the South, but it can be difficult to explain...because incidents of it are rarely placed side by side where you can see how different people and groups are treated. Now, it may have less to do with [race]...But how is something like this even explainable?..."

"So, there’s your difference. Blacks and Whites misbehaving badly with wildly different results, prosecution behavior, and media coverage."

You provide a nice escape clause, but you still called those involved racist. Which was morally wrong of you to do, especially since you knew full well the differences in location and particularly because you knew there was no difference in the Tulane kids' favor in media coverage.

It's nice to eat your cake and throw it, too, ain't it?

Cousin Pat from Georgia said...

And I believe you read THIS article before you made your original post

Yes, I did, back when the article was first printed. That's how I knew the background, and suspected shenanigans when reading the TP article and the Advocate article. But I google searched the link after your comment to make sure I hadn't lost my mind. There it was.

Sometimes I forget that my Georgia & Tennessee readers are reading my posts in a vaccum, free from the saturation of ongoing NO & LA drama. This also plays into how people percieve racism, but that will be a whole other post.

The only mention of prior acts was in the comments secton of the one post. That was another thing that reminded me that there was more to the story. Why not even provide a link to any background material from there? Why not mention it in the article? Remember, people who read the print versions of the paper don't have the luxury of googling for more information on every story.

And I didn't say the BR DA was probably doing the right thing, I said that office is doing the right thing. Investigating and prosecuting crimes is the right thing to do.

I think you're making the assumption that many people do when they hear the term "racism" - your instinct is to prove that racism is overstated in this country. You're also assuming a lot as to my intent. You immediately thought I was accusing the BR DA of something wrong for choosing to prosecute black people.

I want to see crime prosecuted, end of story. The problem here isn't in BR, but in OP. My problem here is that the fraternity boys appear to have gotten a pass. I think race was involved. I gave examples. Where is that misleading?

There is no backpedaling here, race plays a role in this situation. That is my opinion. I can't recognize why that is my opinion, even as you focus all your efforts on how these cases are different instead of the many ways these cases are similar.