Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
Last week The New York Times ran a story on “knockout game.” As Chuck Ross at Gucci Little Piggy pointed out, the piece cleverly shifted focus away from the effects of the punching attacks onto a debate about whether or not they constitute an actual “game” or even a trend. As Ross says:
It doesn’t actually really matter to the victims and to the worried public whether or not this is all a game with a set of rules that is discussed and hashed out by its players. What truly matters is whether people are getting beaten up for no reason other than the passing amusement of the perpetrators.
Over the last few days other outlets have joined in what I’m going to call — overstatement or not — an orgy of spin. I thought it’d be fun to take a look at some of the pieces.
Guess what? According to The Daily Beast, this whole thing is a “phony panic.” The gist of the piece, by Jamelle Bouie, is that “knockout game” isn’t worth talking about because it’s just not a trend. And the media should only talk about trends, like, presumably, our long national struggle against receipt hate, or the Klan’s infiltration of Oberlin College. Bouie is generous enough to admit that at least five people have been killed by punches that might have been thrown by partakers of the “game,” but he doesn’t see that as constituting a trend. I dunno. Five people. Seems a little trend-y to me, or at least somewhat newsworthy. The same number of people were killed during the 2001 anthrax attacks. That’s, like, five Trayvon Martins. It’s five times the number of geisha go-go dances performed by Katy Perry. It’s 83% of the total number of Obamacare sign-ups on the website’s first day.
Over at Slate, Matthew Yglesias, who was punched and kicked by a couple of guys, isn’t very curious about the motives of his attackers. He considers the unprovoked assault to be a “random act of criminality,” one of those things that just happens, like pimples or the NSA reading your emails. I’m unclear if Yglesias believes he was not a victim of the “knockout game” or if he simply thinks it’s wrong to see the game as something to be concerned about. His assertion — that since he was not knocked unconscious his attack was not an instance of “knockout game” — is self-evidently absurd. It’s still baseball if you strike out, Matt.
According to Emma Roller, also at Slate, the game is not worth talking about because there is no “hard data” to back it up. What, I wonder, would constitute “hard data”? Presumably it doesn’t include actual videos of the “game” being played and talked about in the communities in which it’s prevalent. Because there are plenty of those. Yglesias would probably call these videos “random evidence,” which, like a random act of criminality, is something barely worth thinking about. In any event, since the government has stopped including race information in the numbers it releases through its Bureau of Justice Statistics website, I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that the kind of data Roller is talking about will not be forthcoming. Actually, I’ll go even farther out on that limb and predict that no data on “knockout game” will be collected at all. And if there’s no data, per Roller there is no “game.” It’s just a fantasy, like leprechauns. So stop talking about it you big racist.
The truly bizarre thing in Roller’s piece is the assertion that Colin Flaherty of WorldNetDaily is almost singlehandedly responsible for spreading the myth of black crime. Also for the black rate of incarceration, which is pretty high. That’s alotta blame to lay on one dude, especially one who is an outsider with little-to-no mainstream pull. (I hadn’t even heard of him prior to a few days ago.) Roller seems to be forgetting that the “knockout game” story, at least as far as mainstream outlets are concerned, traces back to the Times. Prior to that piece the story was comfortably below the radar — and no one was being scolded about it. Besides, if black crime wasn’t a fertile and under-exploited topic, Flaherty wouldn’t have something to write about, would he?
Just for the sake of satisfying Ms. Roller’s yearning for long, hard data, I’ll link to an archived version of the Bureau of Justice’s data on homicide trends by race. As I mentioned, it’s no longer available on the regular site, so thanks are owed to Steve Sailer for pointing it out. Given these numbers, it’s amazing there aren’t more Colin Flaherties out there. More Steve Sailers, too. There’s a story here all right, but it doesn’t concern the truthiness of “knockout game.” It doesn’t even concern its racial aspects. It concerns the systematic way in which the media buries facts and stories contrary to its model, then attacks or discredits anyone who dares to complain about it.