Corrected from earlier | People who were wondering whether Jesse Jackson would ever respond to the killing of an Australian collegiate baseball player by three "bored" teens in Oklahoma, one of whom allegedly posted racist tweets, got their answer today. Jackson's early Wednesday morning tweet read as follows: "Praying for the family of Chris Lane. This senseless violence is frowned upon and the justice system must prevail."
A BBC report has police saying that "The boy who has talked to us said, 'we were bored and didn't have anything to do, so we decided to kill somebody.'" The related Associated Press report doesn't carry the direct quote, instead impersonally relaying that "Police say the two killed 22-year-old Christopher Lane on Friday to overcome boredom." The AP has not reported Jesse Jackson's passive-voice reaction at its national site, effectively covering for a statement which comes off as "Well, I'd better say something, so let's get it over with." Let's compare Jackson's reaction to what he wrote on July 15 in a Chicago Sun-Times column about the George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin situation:
We need a national investigation of the racial context that led to Trayvon Martin’s slaying. Congress must act. And it’s time to call on the United Nations Human Rights Commission for an in-depth investigation of whether the U.S. is upholding its obligations under international human rights laws and treaties. Trayvon Martin’s death demands much more than a jury’s verdict on George Zimmerman. It calls for us to hear the evidence and render a verdict on the racial reality that never had its day in court at the trial.
"Is frowned upon" sort of pales in comparison to that, doesn't it?
A jury acquitted George Zimmerman on self-defense grounds. The AP has reported in its Chris Lane obituary equivalent ("SLAIN AUSTRALIAN CAME TO US FOR SCHOOL, BASEBALL") that prosecutors are calling the actions of the two African-American teens and one white teen who have been charged a "thrill killing." It should be obvious that Jackson's and everyone else's outrage meter should be much higher in the latter, apparently far more cut-and-dried situation.
"Thanks for that tepid, milquetoast response. 'Frowned upon'?? Why not be REALLY harsh and call the boys 'naughty' or 'fresh'?"
"frowned upon? FROWNED UPON?!! Use all the vigor of your outrage to help stop this violence! Not frown upon it!!!"
"But I guess you aren't "Outraged" and won't be marching over it huh?"
(From Jim Treacher) "Just so there's no confusion: @RevJJackson isn't saying HE frowns upon Chris Lane's murder. He's just noting the breach in etiquette."
"I was 4 and got frowned upon digging in my mom's flower beds when she told me not to. Who knew senseless violence gets the same response?"
(From Lucianne Goldberg) "Jesse Jackson says killing an Australian runner for fun is "frowned upon." Is that anything like using the wrong fork to eat your salad?"
Turning Jackson's words around, we need a full vetting of the racial context that led to Chris Lane's slaying, and an investigation into the culture which gives rise to people who kill just to relieve professed boredom.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.
Correction: An earlier version incorrectly reported that the suspects were all black teenagers. One of the suspects in the case is white. We apologize for Mr. Blumer's error, which originated in reliance on the erroneous characterization of the suspects at several media sites.