The Jena Six Through the Looking Glass
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Last Thursday in the small Louisiana town of Jena, the Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton led a march of thousands of protestors chanting "Jail the Jena Six!"

The demonstrators and the press had come from all over the country to condemn the savage racist attack of December 4, 2006, in which a black high school student was jumped from behind, knocked unconscious, and then kicked and punched by six white football players until they were dragged off their supine victim.

"Phrases like 'stomped him badly,' 'stepped on his face,' 'knocked out cold on the ground,' and 'slammed his head on the concrete beam' were used by the students in their statements," wrote reporter Abbey Brown in "Documents Give Details of Fight," a June 11, 2007 article in the local Alexandria-Pineville Town Talk.

On Thursday, the two ministers demanded that hate crime charges be added to the indictments against the six muscular white athletes accused of beating black student Justin Barker senseless. "Why in the world isn't this being called a hate crime?" asked Sharpton. "Given the long series of racial incidents in Jena, this was clearly a racially-motivated attack."

The black leaders denounced District Attorney Reed Walter's decision to reduce the main charge from second-degree attempted murder to second-degree aggravated battery. They implied that only bias could account for his leniency toward the white athletes. "These six football stars might well have killed this poor boy if they hadn't finally been stopped," said Jackson. "Let the jury decide whether it was attempted murder or not."

The Rev. Jackson blamed school authorities for not disciplining their star white players for earlier crimes. He pointed out that the only one of the football players so far to be tried and convicted, fullback/linebacker Mychal Bell, had been accustomed to running amok off the field because of preferential treatment he enjoyed due to his athletic stardom. In the twelve months leading up to the attack on Barker, Bell had scored 18 touchdowns and been convicted of four crimes, two of them violent. Capping off the junior's busy year, on December 17, 2006, Bell was named All-State while he was sitting in his jail cell.

Jackson quoted Brown's August 25 article "Bell denied bond due to criminal history:"

"… Bell was placed on probation until his 18th birthday — Jan. 18, 2008 — after an incident of battery on Dec. 25, 2005. After being placed on probation, he was adjudicated of three other crimes, the two in September and another charge of criminal damage to property that occurred on July 25, 2006."

The Rev. Jackson noted that Brown's article showed that school officials were negligent in reining in their violent star:

"Mack Fowler, Jena High's football coach at the time, said that … he discovered that while he was punishing his players, the school 'wasn't doing anything' to them. Fowler said he decided then that he was going to do the same thing the school did—nothing."

Discriminating on Bell's behalf paid off on the football field. Brown wrote:

"Bell was adjudicated—the juvenile equivalent to a conviction—of battery Sept. 2 and criminal damage to property Sept. 3 … A few days later, on Sept. 8, Bell rushed 12 times for 108 yards and scored three touchdowns—one of the best performances of the year for the standout athlete."

The Rev. Sharpton argued that the youngest of the attackers, Jesse Ray Beard, should have been charged as an adult. "Instead, he is frolicking on the football field right now!"

Brown reported in "'Jena Six' all ran together — on the field and off:"

"Since returning to school, Beard has shined as one of the Jena Giants' star players on the football field. … He had 91 yards rushing and scored the game-winning touchdown Friday night in the Giants' 12-6 overtime win over Iowa."

Both civil rights organizers agreed that … oh, wait … No … hmmhmmh …

Look, this is kind of embarrassing for me. I'm not sure how to explain this … Okay, here goes:

I just realized that this article I've been writing is about an "alternate universe" in which the six football players were white and their victim was black.

In our universe, though, the attackers were black and the youth was white.

So, in our space-time continuum, Jackson and Sharpton weren't denouncing the perpetrators of this brutal racial beating, they were defending them.

On this particular Earth, everybody who is anybody in the media feels that the stompers are the victims, not the stompee.

I got all the facts and quotes from the local newspaper right, I just got backwards the races of the students and the reasons Jesse and Al were so mad.

But, now that I think about it, maybe my mistakes don't really mean much. No matter who stomped whom, we would have seen exactly the same brouhaha on the TV news last Thursday, except for details about whether the protestors' signs read "Jail the Jena Six" or "Free the Jena Six."

In both worlds, there would have been a big demonstration in Jena. Hey, look, there's Jesse! And over there's Al! And behind them are all the activists trying to act outraged whenever the TV camera points in their direction. And here in front are the TV correspondents putting on concerned-looking frowny faces as they make vague references to Jim Crow, lynchings, Emmett Till, and that ever-popular perennial, "white racism".

So, what difference does it make whether I got right who committed this hate crime?

Nobody else seems to care.

As we saw with the Duke lacrosse case (which we at rightly labeled a hoax—motivated by what Tom Wolfe called "the hunt for the Great White Defendant"—way back in April 2006), there's a tremendous hunger in modern America for news accounts of white violence against blacks. But there isn't enough actual supply of white-on-black violence to meet the overwhelming demand. So the press promotes hoaxes, as with Duke, or simply spins the story 180 degrees in reverse of the plain facts, as with the Jena stomping.

The Jena attack is interesting not because it's some flashback to ancient times, but because it's a state-of-the-art example of our OJ Era. There are now two sets of law: one that applies to the rest of us and one that applies, ever so erratically, to celebrities, which, on a very local level, the Six had been in football-crazy Jena.

On Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" in 2004, Tina Fey announced:

"Yesterday, in a New Jersey courtroom, former NBA star Jayson Williams was acquitted of manslaughter charges, although by all accounts he did pull the trigger in the shooting death of his limo driver. The verdict sends a clear message that no matter where you live, retired sports stars are allowed to kill you."

Funny – but the Williams case was further proof that the famous and talented can run wild … until they go too far. Although in the cases of Robert Blake and Phil Spector, they might even get away with murder. (Can you believe that Spector might end up with a hung jury? I remember The Ramones telling the press that their producer was a dangerous gun-waving loon way back in 1980.) [Going After the Real Nuts, by Jay Cocks, Time Magazine, March 10, 1980]

When you combine the slack cut for celebrities with the slack cut for  blacks by whites afraid of being called "racist," you get the Venn Diagram from Hell. As any reader of the police blotter in the newspaper sports section can tell you, athletes, especially black athletes, routinely do very bad things to the people around them. Much of the time, they get away with it, but every so often they finally get the book thrown at them, as happened to the Jena Six.

Eddie Thompson, a minister in Jena, explained how the stomping of Barker was merely the culmination of the Jena Six's long skein of privileged criminality:

"Some of these students have reputations in Jena for intimidating and sometimes beating other students. They have vandalized and destroyed both school property and community property. Some of the Jena Six have been involved in crimes not only in LaSalle Parish but also in surrounding parishes. For the most part, coaches and other adults have prevented them from being held accountable for the reign of terror they have presided over in Jena. Despite intervention by adults wanting to give them chances due their athletic potential, most of the Jena Six have extensive juvenile records. … These boys did not receive prejudicial treatment but received preferential treatment until things got out of hand."[The Battle Against Racism In Jena: Jena-Cide,, September 10, 2007]

In the end, the Jena Six should be thankful they stomped a mere white boy.

If, like possibly prison-bound NFL quarterback Michael Vick, they had instead stomped a dog - well, then, there would be hell to pay.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website features his daily blog.]

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