This Is Not Analogous

Ok, so here we go again, with the same tired, essentially racist, logic-free argument. I recall a blog post that “trended” when Trayvon Martin was shot, that described in hideous detail the carjacking death of a young white woman at the hands of a young black man. “Did this make national news?” it demanded, furiously. “Are you outraged, now?” It said. Naturally, I looked up the case in question, only to discover it was so well-reported at the time it occurred, it has its own Wikipedia page; the perpetrator of the crime was apprehended almost immediately, arrested, charged, tried, and is in prison for life without parole.

So, first of all, it did make national news; secondly, who would read about that and not be outraged? Hopefully, no one. The problem with the blog post is, it fails to mention the pathetically evident comparison– the young woman, the victim? Her murderer is in prison for life. Justice was served. The outrage over Trayvon Martin began when his murderer was quite literally allowed to go free, with no arrest, and no charge, after shooting to death an unarmed minor on his way home to his mother’s home; it continued when said murderer was exonerated, and set free, only to continue to perpetrate violent crime and flagrantly and irresponsibly wield firearms– his most recent charming act was to broadcast photographs of Martin’s lifeless body on the ground on his Twitter account.

Similarly, we see this video of a student attacking a teacher, offered up as a point of outrage, and a counterpoint to the narrative that the attack on the young woman in South Carolina was a.)wrong, and b.)racial in nature, with the subtext of the attached article, and the Tweets/Facebook posts it reproduces being that society only cares when white people–particularly those in official positions of power, like law enforcement– attack black people, or the whole “reverse racism” argument, which is in itself an extension of the nonsensical argument that African-Americans get “special” treatment in this country.

My news feed has two separate stories about this video. One says “Why didn’t this video go viral?” The next says “This video went viral.” Ignoring the absurdities inherent to that, let’s examine the contents of this video, and point out the weak analogy between this and the one of the cop assaulting a young woman in South Carolina. The video below shows a student attacking a teacher. This is terrible. Wretched. Appalling. This is a world I know plenty about. I graduated from an urban high school fraught with violence, lived for years in two major cities, and taught in uptown Atlantic City for three years. I had a student pull a knife on another student in my classroom, and I’ve been verbally assaulted more times than I care to recall by various students. That said, my experiences on the whole in all of these places, with people of all colors and creeds and ages, were extraordinarily wonderful.

This video is not analogous to the video of the cop attacking the young woman in a South Carolina classroom. It does not prove that we somehow need cops “like him” in our schools. I want to be clear about this– I did not say we don’t need any law enforcement, or security, in schools. Our police force at Stockton does a phenomenal job. We are so lucky to have them. And the few times I’ve ever needed security in my classroom, they’ve been awesome, and I’ve been grateful. But the officer in South Carolina violated the ethical code and the official policy of his job. He is not to be viewed as some sort of necessity, or panacea, to scenarios like the one below. He is to be viewed as someone acting entirely outside of the law, while at the same time being invested with it. He is corrupt. The student below is also outside of the law, but he’s just that– a student. A kid who fucks up, big time. He is not an example. He is not an analogy. He is not to be put forth as a reason to keep officers like the one in South Carolina around.


About evanduyne

I'm assistant professor of writing at Stockton University, where I'm also affiliated faculty in the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. I work on Sylvia Plath, contingent faculty, and creative writing around trauma and domestic violence.
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