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March 18th, 2013

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10:15 pm - Race, Class, and Justice
I've been reading about the various completely justified anger about the media's treatment of the conviction of the two rapists in the Steubenville Ohio case, where CNN and various other news stations showed a disturbing amount of sympathy for the rapists. That's all an exceedingly important discussion that is all about how the mass media is a major part of rape culture. However, this case also reminded me of another high-profile case, the 1989 Central Park jogger_case. In that case, 5 young men were arrested and convicted of the assault.

Of course, there are also some major differences in these two cases. Yes, the 1989 case was a more serious crime – the victim almost died from the beating she sustained. However, the other differences are also worth noting. The "Central Park 5" were a bit younger than the two Steubenville rapists, ranging in age from 14 to 16. Also, instead of a year or two of juvenile detention, they all served between 6 and 14 years adult maximum security prisons – they were tried and convicted as adults, despite one of them being only 14.

There are two other crucial differences between the two cases, the "Central Park 5" were all poor black and latino kids, while the two Steubenville rapists were middle class boys, one white, one black, and both playing college football. Also, unlike the two boys in Steubenville, none of the "Central Park 5" were guilty. Instead, their convictions were based on coerced confessions and rushed trials, while the actual criminal was a white man who was eventually convicted on DNA evidence in 2002. I remember some of the publicity around the 1989 case, and any sort of sympathy for the 5 kids where were arrested was distinctly absent from the mass media. So based on flimsy evidence, 5 young men between the ages of 14 and 16 were put in maximum security prison for years for a crime they didn't commit, while two white rapists who were 16 & 17 were tried and convicted as juveniles for a crime they did commit and for which there was abundant evidence. Remember this the next time anyone claims that the US has moved beyond racism, that class doesn't matter any sort of similar nonsense.

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[User Picture]
Date:March 19th, 2013 12:33 pm (UTC)
I'm going to post this on Facebook, if that's okay with you (with my wording). It's a really timely way of pointing out a horrible disparity.

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