Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The 'Jena Six' - Why the controversy?


Jena Six - Why the controversy?

Let's start with some basic facts. The South is segregated. In the Deep South it's always been that way. Always has, always will. The government, the police, the schools, the media and the controversy surrounding the 'Jena Six' are never going to change the fact that the South is segregated. The media can delude itself all it wants but the reality is that civil rights activists and politicians are never going to change the South.

What went on in Jena is a microcosm of what goes on everyday in this country. The media pretend things like this only happen in Jena, but the reality is that it happens all the time throughout the United States. People from different socio-economic backgrounds and racial identities tend to stick together in groups. The simple fact is that, despite idealism, races segregate themselves. In Maryland, I went to racially diverse schools (50%black/50% black) and this was reality. Despite what idealists want us to believe, the cafeteria was predominantly segregated. White students sat together and separately black students sat together. And despite some crossover, for the most part, lines were drawn by race.

This so-called "prank" which involved a noose hanging from a tree was undoubtedly a racially provocative act. The kids who put the noose on the tree should be charged with a hate crime. The hanging of a noose from a tree is just as provocative as burning a cross in a black family's yard.

But all this outrage and controversy regarding the 'Jena Six' seems misguided. Our society is governed by the rule of law and in a civilized society you don't take the law into your own hands. Six black guys almost beat a white student to death was and now they're complaining about their rights? Why shouldn't they be charged with second degree attempted murder? The 'Jena Six' are simply a band of vigilantes operating outside the law. They are just as guilty of a hate crime as those who placed the noose in the tree. It is ironic that there is such a controversy over the trials of the Jena Six when they themselves are responsible for committing an act akin to lynch mob vigilantism.

No one is above the rule of law. If the District Attorney has acted improperly, the Federal government will intervene. But the fact remains that if you commit a hate crime, no matter what the cause, you should be given a fair trial and if found guilty, punished.


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