Monday, August 6, 2007

A Quick Little Controversial Post

A news headline on AOL reads:

"Students Killed Execution-Style"

Beneath it, it says:

"Lined Up Against Wall and Shot"

And beneath that:

"Victims Had No Criminal Records"

It's that last one that gives me pause.  I mean, when you tell me that students were killed execution-style (as opposed to, say, suspected mob members or drug dealers), I'm not likely to leap to the conclusion that they must have, y'know, had it coming.  I'm going to assume they're perfectly innocent victims of a perfectly horrible crime.  Because they're students

And I ask (politely, without any accusation at all) if perhaps maybe this bit about having no criminal records was included because the photos of the victims accompanying this story showed three African American teenagers.  And I wonder if the same disclaimer would have been included if the accompanying photo was of three white teens who (like the photos of the victims in this instance) have no gang tattoos or any other outward signs of potential criminal involvement.

And I go on to wonder that if the "No Criminal Records" statement was, in fact, inserted because of the race of the victims, was it inserted because of a racial prejudice of the writer of the article, or because of the writer's presumption that the article's readers hold that prejudice (and, whether the readers, in fact, do).

Either way, it feels ugly.

Unless, of course, there was nothing racial at all behind the inclusion of the subheadline, in which case, what does it say about me that I see racism where it doesn't exist?

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