It starts in the crib.
Young children spend an inordinate amount of time exploring the physical world - they learn how balls bounce, how liquids splash, why they shouldn’t touch a hot stove, etc. They’re not limited to physics, though: they learn about poison ivy, they learn why one should never pull a cat’s tail, they learn to distinguish between friendly and unfriendly dogs. Their investigations include people, too - they trust their parents, and they learn that the vast majority of people in the world are kind. More than that, they begin learning how to distinguish between people who wish them well and those who desire to harm them.
The world is a wonderful place, according to this perspective, and we are confident in our ability to survive and to be happy in it.
That is, until the world stops being benevolent.
In the first week of January, in Chicago, a white special-needs teenager was kidnapped and held captive by four black teenagers for 24 to 48 hours. One of his captors was an acquaintance. The victim was bound and gagged, partially scalped, forced to drink from a toilet, and verbally abused by his captors, who said things like "fuck white people" and "fuck Donald Trump". Parts of this attack were livestreamed on Facebook.
Thanks to Facebook Live, we have photos of the victim as he is being assaulted, and there's one in particular showing him cowering in a corner, looking directly at the camera.
Oh God, that photo.
Anybody who has been so assaulted saw that photo in their mind whenever they closed their eyes. They were unable to sleep the night they read the news. They were extremely angry, and irritable to those around them for days afterward. They went to work the next day, in part to avoid thinking about the incident, but mostly out of fear of just what they would do if left to their own devices.
There's a popular phrase to describe what the four thugs did: they "objectified" their victim. That's a euphemism, for objects cannot experience fear, or betrayal, or helplessness, or any of the other emotions the victim experienced. Just look at that photo.
It's also easy to assume that the thugs got a sexual thrill, as if the event were an elaborate BDSM scene gone awry. No, they were thrilled over the fact that they could torture with impunity, that there was nothing stopping them - not the victim, not the police, not bystanders, and certainly not their own consciences.
The attackers didn't stop because the victim capitulated to their demands. There were no demands, at least of the type this victim could understand. Rather, the thugs stopped because they got bored.
Surely the police would show some courage about this event, wouldn't they? They didn't. Speaking of the four assailants, Chicago Police Commander Kevin Duffin stammered: "You know, although they are adults, they’re 18... Kids make stupid decisions — I shouldn’t call them kids, they’re legally adults, but they’re young adults and they make stupid decisions. That certainly will be part of whether or not a hate crime is — seek a hate crime and determine whether or not this is sincere or just ranting and raving."
You know, the very fact that the four perpetrators did adult stuff makes them adults. And it is irrelevant whether they were sincere or just ranting and raving: those four adults acted as the feral animals that they are, and "ranting and raving" cannot be used as an excuse for what those feral animals did. You'd almost expect Duffin to say it wasn't a hate crime, since Trump-supporters aren't a "protected class".
Later, the four thugs were indeed charged with a hate crime. Was it because the attackers were black and the victim white? Or was it because the victim has special needs? That ambiguity is the police commander's safe space, or as he put it: "It’s half a dozen of one, six of the other", which is another euphemism, meaning that he's more than happy with that ambiguity.
One would hope that the good Commander got a fair price for his spine, for he has clearly sold it.
Commander Duffin's handwringing was matched by the quality of media coverage - Duffin may not have explicitly provided the main stream media their soundbites, but his doubts certainly gave them license.
CNN's Don Lemon essentially echoed the Police Commander's words: "I don’t think it's evil. I don't think it's evil. I think these are young people and I think they have bad home training. I have no idea who is raising these young people, because no one I know on earth who is 17-years-old or 70-years-old would ever think of treating another person like that. It is inhumane. And you wonder, at 18-years-old, where is your parent, where is your guardian?"
On the same Don Lemon program, another member of the press described the attack as an example of "man's inhumanity to man" - that's yet another euphemism, meant to absolve the perpetrators while allowing the speaker to signal his "concern".
At least Don Lemon mentioned the race of the victim and the attackers - he had to, since TV is a visual medium. In the "This Week in Hate" column, the New York Times described the events in a race-neutral fashion: "Four people have been charged with a hate crime, among other charges, in the beating in Chicago of a teenager with mental disabilities, which was broadcast on Facebook Live on January 3. The video shows one of the suspects shouting about Donald Trump and 'white people.'"
Most reprehensible of all is the CBS Radio's report which acknowledged the race factor but reversed the races of the victim and the attackers:
"The viral video of a beating and knife attack in Chicago suggests the assault had racial overtones. CBS’s Dean Reynolds tells us the victim is described as a mentally-challenged teenager.
"In the video he is choked and repeatedly called the n-word. His clothes are slashed and he is terrorized with a knife. His alleged captors repeatedly reference Donald Trump. Police are holding four people in connection with the attack."
The hate crime debate, the media's distortion of the events, the police commander's cowardice, all of these, are distractions from the actual events. It is the substitution of politics for ethics - and look at the type of politics involved. All these actions are the actions of cowards, substituting fairness in place of justice, thereby achieving neither. With their dissembling, the media and the Chicago Police are excusing monsters and the evil that they do.
Justice can be achieved only if one has the pertinent facts, and excusing evil requires that those facts be obscured; justice is thus precluded.
Any bystander with a shred of decency would interfere. They certainly wouldn't stand and do nothing but watch, or take videos with their cellphones like those thugs did. They wouldn't stop to wonder whether the attackers were adults or "just kids". They wouldn't try to decide whether they were witnessing a hate crime. They wouldn't attempt to psychoanalyze the attackers. At the very least, they would use their cellphones to call the police - and hope that Commander Duffin would not answer.
At best, bystanders would put away their cellphones and set upon the assailants. Their need for justice exceeds society's "desire" for cultural sensitivity and abrogation of personal responsibility. They would stop the thugs not with necessary force, but with overwhelming force - proportionality be damned. Why? Because that will be the only opportunity for justice to be served.
That opportunity is now past. All we can do is watch, observe the helplessness, observe the betrayal of a lifetime's worth of experience, and witness the abrupt end to the victim's childhood.