NYT, Others Cover 'So-Called Knockout Game' As 'A Spreading Menace or a Myth'

A number of liberals and liberal outfits have taken notice of the "knockout game" trend. Their mission is to downplay or debunk it.

In a November 22 item published in its November 23 print edition on Page A19, Cara Buckley at the New York Times, below a picture of a Guardian Angels member posting a warning in Brooklyn, cited "police officials in several cities" claiming that it "amounted to little more than an urban myth," and noted that Gotham officials were questioning "whether in fact it existed." Excerpts and other ostrich-like responses from others are after the jump.


From Buckley at the Times (bolds are mine throughout this post):

Police Unsure if Random Attacks Are Rising Threat or Urban Myth
‘Knockout Game’ a Spreading Menace or a Myth

KnockoutGameVidPic

(image is from a news report video at Yahoo News)

Fear swept through Borough Park, Brooklyn, as soon as the news got out: A young man was randomly assaulted by strangers early Friday morning, and the attack was possibly part of the so-called Knockout Game.

... The attack added to a growing log of reports of such crimes in the Northeast and beyond. Young assailants were randomly picking unlucky targets and trying to knock them out with just one punch.

Yet police officials in several cities where such attacks have been reported said that the “game” amounted to little more than an urban myth, and that the attacks in question might be nothing more than the sort of random assaults that have always occurred.

And in New York City, police officials are struggling to determine whether they should advise the public to take precautions against the Knockout Game — or whether in fact it existed.

... Two weeks ago, a 78-year-old woman in Brooklyn reported being punched in the head, with her assailant fleeing without touching her shopping bags or her pocketbook.

This followed sporadic reports of similar recent attacks in Crown Heights, Mr. Hikind said, including one on a 19-year-old Hasidic man who said he had been approached by eight men and then punched in the face by one of them, in what the police said was a possible hate crime.

Then, at 2:45 a.m. on Friday, on the border of Borough Park, a 24-year-old man found himself suddenly boxed in by three men and punched by a fourth. Police said the four men had been out celebrating and were “somewhat intoxicated.” Mr. Kelly said the victim overheard the group discussing “how you knock somebody out.” (Amrit Marajh, 28, of Brooklyn, was charged with assault and with aggravated harassment as a hate crime.)

Whatever the case, a type of panic set in.

Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, said much of the fear sown by the reports may have racial roots.

Translating Mr. Butts: "If you're worried about being assaulted by 'Knockout Game' perpetrators, you must be a racist."

John Luclew at PennLive questioned Buckley's framing:

Panic? It makes it sound irrational, as if the victims and threatened communities are imagining the danger.

I agree, especially given the fact that these assaults are only about inflicting physical harm and have no other apparent motivation such as robbery or personal revenge.

Over at Slate, far-far-lefty Matt Yglesias reported that he may have been a "knockout game" victim two years ago — and shrugged it off:

The weird thing was that after I blogged briefly about this, a number of conservative bloggers, particularly those of a racist bent, decided that this wasn't just one of many random acts of criminality that occur in the big city. No! It was an instance of "Knockout King," which I suppose was the 2011 version of 2013's more robust Knockout Game white racial panic.

But to be clear about something—insofar as there's supposedly a "game" here where the contestant tries to knock someone out with one punch, that absolutely isn't what happened. I was knocked down, but definitely not out, and then after that I got kicked a bunch of times.

... People shouldn't minimize these concerns about urban violence, but it accomplishes nothing in terms of tackling them to concoct weird trends and games out of thin air.

If it is a trend, Matt, it helps to let people know it's one.

You would think that Yglesias would recognize that the increase in the frequency of attacks with no other motivation beyond infllcting serious physical harm, and its "refinement" towards getting it done with one violent blow, is a new trend. One would also think that the highly praised Guardian Angels' recognition of the problem would give the Times and Yglesias cover for recognizing the obvious. But they've instead chosen to hide behind "police officials" who are seriously constrained by their political environments to resist statements which might be construed as encouraging "profiling" or "poisoning the atmosphere."

On November 25, BuzzFeed's Ryan Broderick posted a very incomplete list of 10 attacks which "have been reported in the media to be part of an alleged trend in which assailants try to knock someone out with one punch." In July 2011, John T. Bennett at American Thnkier noted that attacks had been "reported in Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, and New Jersey" (i.e., through barely more than five months of that year). Broderick's only 2011 item involved the murder of 72 year-old Hoang Nguyen in St. Louis.

In his syndicated column carried yesterday at Real Clear Politics, Larry Elder pulled no punches, and identified the root cause:

The "knockout game" -- and the media underreporting of it -- combines the breakdown of the family with the media's condescending determination to serve as a public relations bureau for blacks. The "game" is a dare in which a young man -- all the perps appear to be male people of color, mostly blacks -- tries to literally knock out an innocent bystander with one blow. Both National Public Radio and The New York Times say these reports of the "knockout game" being widespread are overblown and do not represent a trend. Really?

According to Colin Flaherty, author of "White Girl Bleed A Lot: The Return of Racial Violence to America and How the Media Ignore It," the knockout game has gone national. He describes "knockouts" in Philadelphia, Atlantic City, St. Louis, Birmingham, Chicago, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Denver, Minneapolis, Georgetown, New York City, Greensboro, Baltimore, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Miami, Cleveland, Nashville, Peoria, Seattle, Saratoga Springs, Atlanta and a host of others towns and cities.

From a distance, the media can spot some lone idiot holding up an offensive sign at a tea party rally. But when it comes to black perp/white victim crime, there is a very different attitude.

... So why is this happening? Look to the family.

The 22 cities Elder listed, even ignoring his "host of other towns and cities," more than doubles Broderick's list — even before considering that some cities may have multiple "Knockout Game" events.

Police officials and the press do no one any favors by ignoring or downplaying "Knockout Games" crimes. They are arguably creating more opportunities for such crimes to occur by not telling potential victims, who for example might choose to always travel in pairs or groups instead of alone if they knew of the dangers.

But apparently remaining politically correct is more important than public safety.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.