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Jena Six reality check

In light of all the recent hullabaloo on campus about the Jena Six, I found this CSM article, titled “Media myths about the Jena 6”, very interesting. It lays out 12 of the most commonly misreported “facts” about the case.

The author lives in Jena and has reported on the situation from the beginning, which presumably gives him some credence. Of course, you could also argue that this gives him an inherent bias, such as when he claims “Jena is a wonderful place to live for both whites and blacks.” Sure, it might not be as racist as the media have portrayed it, but I’m still not planning my vacation getaway to Jena, Louisiana.

In any case, I think the Jena Six debacle will probably go down in future years as a textbook example of how the media latch on to and distort stories. Race violence is top priority news these days, right behind “missing white woman” and “Britney Spears is crazy.”

Here’s the ODE write-up of the recent rally in support of the Jena Six. See how many of the “media myths” you can spot before it turns into a Diego Hernandez and Ty Schwoeffermann quote-athon. Also, OC Publisher Guy Simmons had a run in with some crazy Jena Six supporters a while back (with wacky results). Finally, props to Hit & Run for the find.

  1. Timothy says:

    Blair: South Carolina happens to be a completely different state than Louisiana. Thanks for playing. Different town, different prosecutor, different politics. I doubt that district in SC went for David Fucking Duke in a race for Senate, for starters.

  2. Blair says:

    Another common myth is that the Jena Six, who are charged with aggravated asslaut, are being over-charged simply because they are
    black, or would not have been charged had they been white. However, in a 2005 case similar to the Jena Six beating, five white South Carolina teenagers who beat up a black teenager were charged and convicted of “second-degree lynching and assault and battery of a high and
    aggravated nature.” (There was no actual lynching involved. Second-degree
    lynching is defined by South Carolina law as any act of violence on another
    person by a mob when death does not occur. A mob is considered two or more people whose purpose and intent is committing an act of violence on another person.) Like the Jena Six, the white teenagers kicked the victim,
    16-year-old Isaiah Clyburn, as he lay on the ground. The attack left the
    black youth “on the roadside bruised and bloodied from the attack.”

    The white teenagers received the following sentences: One, who prosecutors said was the person most responsible for the attack, was sentenced to 18 years suspended to six years and 400 hours of public service. Two were sentenced to 15 years suspended to three years and 300 hours of public
    service. And one was sentenced to 15 years suspended to 30 months and 300 hours of community service. A sixth co-defendant, Amy Woody, 17, was also charged with 2nd-degree lynching even though she did not take part in the beating.

    The South Carolina incident was an obvious hate crime. The white teenagers, who used racial slurs, singled out Clyburn simply because he was black. However, the white youths were not charged with a hate crime, probably because South Carolina has no applicable hate laws. Like the Jena Six, they were charged only for the physical assault. The Jena Six beating also has obvious racial elements. According to witness statements, members of the Jena Six used racial slurs. According to witness statements, at the onset of the attack, “There’s that that white [expletive deleted] who’s been running his mouth.” If Jena Six had been white and had said, “There’s that that black (expletive deleted] who’s been running his mouth,” the federal government probably would have filed hate crime charges.

    A South Carolina newspaper reports on the sentencing at

  3. T says:

    First, I saw this on Hit & Run (which ain’t what it used to be, sadly), and I was not terribly impressed. Not only does the guy live in Jena, but his wife is a teacher at the high school. So, yeah … he’s totally biased, and most of his “truths” have no greater veracity than the (admittedly very) apocryphal events relayed in the MSM.

    As Vincent said, I think everybody wants to create a “narrative” around these events. And every great, easy-to-tell narrative requires a victim.

  4. Vincent. says:

    I read that this morning myself. It’s impossible to know, of course, whether this CSM writer is representing the facts any more honestly than anyone else is, but his story is intriguing in that it presents such a starkly opposite picture of the events.

    Like others, I’ve been shocked at the seeming willingness of almost everyone to simply ignore the fact that these kids beat another student within an inch of his life. They’re not innocent Rosa Parks-like figures who stood up to injustice. They’re thugs who got mad because some shitbag white kid said some vile stuff and they decided to pound his face into the ground.

    They’re not the hapless victims they’re made out to be. But then, it’s all about the “narrative,” isn’t it?

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