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When Did the Victim Become the Murderer?

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Posted on Nov 30, 2007

By Eugene Robinson

WASHINGTON—Why do you suppose so many people were so quick to blame Sean Taylor for his own murder?

    Relax, that’s a rhetorical question. There’s no need for self-exculpatory huffing and puffing, no need to point out that the verdict of suicide-by-bad-attitude—pronounced so often this week, and so coldly—was usually couched in broad hints or softened by the nebulous fog of the conditional mood. Everyone knew what was really being said, and everyone knew why.

    Taylor instantly became not a person but a character, one whose purpose was to advance a narrative about young black men and their manifold failings. Taylor, a gifted defensive back for the Washington Redskins, had been in trouble with the law. Despite the millions he earned playing football, he never managed to escape the quicksand lure of the mean streets—parasitic friends, envious haters, a culture of casual violence. It was his decision to swim in this cesspool of dysfunction, the narrative said. And, like so many other young black men who have made the same wrong choice, he paid for it with his life.

    At least that was the story before Wednesday, when Robert Parker, director of the Miami-Dade police, announced that investigators had “no reason” to believe Taylor was targeted by his killer or even knew the man who shot him. Police were operating on the theory that the crime was a botched attempt at burglary, Parker said, essentially a random act.

    I realize that Parker may eventually be proved wrong. But what fascinates me is how eager people were to believe the worst about Taylor—how ready to stuff a young man’s death into a box labeled “pathology” and call it a day—in the absence of supporting factual evidence. Apparently, “innocent until proved guilty” doesn’t apply to young black men even when they’re the victims of violent crime.

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    The few facts we have, in fact, tell a story that’s very different from the chosen narrative. Sean Taylor is hardly a typical product of those fabled “mean streets”—he grew up with his father, a suburban police chief, in a middle-class neighborhood. He did spend weekends with his mother in a tougher area, though, and acquired some sketchy friends. But at the same time he was attending an exclusive private high school, where he met his girlfriend, Jackie Garcia, a niece of the actor Andy Garcia.

    Taylor’s home, with its expansive yard and its big swimming pool, is in an upper-middle-class suburb. There’s nothing remotely “mean” about the street.

    Jackie Garcia hid under the covers with the couple’s 18-month-old daughter early Monday while Taylor faced the intruder who shot and mortally wounded him. Andy Garcia released a statement Wednesday praising Taylor for his “heroic” sacrifice that saved Jackie’s life.

    Much has been made of the fact that Taylor grabbed a machete from under his bed before confronting the intruder. In New York or St. Louis or Seattle, if you saw a machete you’d think: deadly weapon. But I spent years covering Latin America for The Washington Post, so when I see a machete in a place like Miami I’m more likely to think: garden implement. Tropical vegetation is a lot easier to trim with a machete than with hedge clippers, and Taylor’s father said Sean used the blade in his yard. No, machetes are not usually kept under the bed. But if my house had been broken into recently—as Taylor’s was, barely a week before his slaying—I might have wanted the thing a little closer to hand.

    My purpose here isn’t to make a hero out of Sean Taylor, though he may well have died a hero’s death. He made some serious mistakes in his life, and he didn’t always have the proper regard for authority and discipline. Nor am I trying to sell the “he was finally turning his life around” narrative, as if taking a few GPS readings were enough to show anyone the way to responsible manhood.

    Life isn’t so linear—and people aren’t so one-dimensional.

    The next time you encounter a young black man like Sean Taylor—a man who can be headstrong and rebellious, who listens to rap music and sometimes wears his hair in a wild-man ‘fro that’s meant to intimidate, who scowls when we want him to smile and makes a bad mistake or two and doesn’t choose the friends we would want him to choose—know that there is possibility within him, and contradiction, and the capacity for love. Know that he’s more than a plot device.   

    Eugene Robinson’s e-mail address is eugenerobinson(at)washpost.com.   

    © 2007, Washington Post Writers Group


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By Inherit The Wind, December 5, 2007 at 9:19 pm Link to this comment

2tonechaos,

Why does it take you 500 words to say what “Yan and Yang” says in 3?

I try to speak simply, not think simply.  I tried to clearly express what you bumbled around with:

The mis-use of the idea of “personal responsibility” to extend beyond what is sensibly within a person’s control, and what is not.

Yeah, I tend to think if you knowingly build in a flood plain you should expect to get wet.  But I don’t think you and your children deserve to drown because of it. 

The modern neo-con DOES believe you and your kids deserve to drown—and Mitt Romney epitomized that in his attack on Huckabee.

The cynical Republican change to chase the former Dixiecrat redneck racist voter DID start before Nixon in 1968, but 1968 was when it became GOP policy, through and through.  I cannot imagine Ike not being disgusted by he former vice-president actively courting racists—the people Ike fought in the 50’s.  Ike was the last 19th Century president, and his roots reached back to the party that ENDED slavery.  Nixon, the first 20th Century Republican president, cut the GOP’s ties to those roots, but Goldwater had shown the way.

I’m not simplistic.  But I do believe that logic is clear, not convoluted.

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By SaraB, December 5, 2007 at 2:44 pm Link to this comment

Good point squeekcat. No one is interested in what kind of person a white crime victim was because it isn’t relevant. (Unless the victim is a woman and a rape victim who may have been “asking for it”.) But reporters certainly *make* it relevant when the victim is black. They are either pre-empting the unacknowledged but ever present racism that automatically jumps to the question of whether this victim was ‘asking for it’ (by being a black ‘thug’) or, of course, you may be right. It may be a case of, OK he was a decent man when he got murdered but actually, he was *kind of* asking for it because of his past.

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By squeekcat, December 5, 2007 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

I think the most interesting thing about this sad event was the coded language used by the press in reporting the story.  As soon as I read the words, “he was a gentle, quiet man and loving father who was turning his life around” (nouns and adjectives may vary), I absolutely KNEW that 2 or 3 paragraphs later, I would be reading about his history of bad behavior and brushes with the law.
Tragic stories about black athletes and black celebrities are formulaic and predictable.  I don’t believe that a story about a white athlete’s tragic death would be prefaced with assurances about the essential goodheartedness of the victim.  It feels as though the mainstream press can’t wait to tell the reader about the thugish and lawless periods of the dead man’s life, but must first mitigate the racist nature of the article by reminding readers that this African-American male had a good, ‘human’ side.

I’m surprised that African-American columnists and pundits haven’t picked up on this not-so-subtle racially biased reporting.

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By 2tonechaos, December 4, 2007 at 11:58 am Link to this comment

To tomack:

First, the light and dark part was not specifically meant to address the assertions made by ITW. Muddled, befuddled, and cuddled as it may have been, it was intended to set up the actual point of the duality of freedom by showing how such a dichotomy is far from uncommon in our lives.

Second, I don’t disagree with you regarding the agenda of those who have overtaken the “Conservative” label in mainstream American political discourse. Nor do I disagree that it is naive to think it all began anywhere near as late as the reign of the hapless two-bit thug president (oops…that doesn’t narrow it down at all—could be anyone from McKinley on up, plus a few others…OK, OK: the two bit thug who actually GOT CAUGHT while in office and subsequently had to resign…). But I also am well aware that, while talking quite a loud and boisterous game, none of those presidents have truly been conservative at all (ESPECIALLY Reagan’s government-expanding, drug-running to pay for CIA off-book black ops ass!). That’s like the hilarious myth that someone like Greenspan is actually a free-market advocate and Rand devotee…HILARIOUS—seriously, people—free-market economists DESPISE central banking since it’s categorically antithetical to all they stand for and believe…so finding one as head of the most dubious and deceitful central banking mafia in the world is about as likely as a true Christian ordering deaths of thousands from the Oval Office—I know it quacks, but that is no duck!

Lastly, I said that social programs would be best off returned to churches AND charities, where they belong and used to be, prior to a century rife with creeping socialism. If you are so against religious interests directing charities, I hope for your sake that you avoid giving Uncle Sam anything in income taxes, cuz that’s who’s pretty much in charge of it all right now. My point was, if you REALLY want social change, then why are you giving all the money for charity work to a bunch of corrupt, inept, over-spending, kickback-sliding, no-bid contract-awarding (but ONLY to friends) thieves who live to continually channel as much money as possible (that would be YOUR money…) right back around to their elite little circle of corrupt friends? It doesn’t matter if it’s “Christians for Poor People Who Also Fear/Worship a Superstitious Ghost Story”, “Hippies for Legalizing Crack”, “Food Not Bombs”, or any other charity—if you want something truly done and a difference made from your donation, you should probably give it to the group that is full of people who are underpaid-but-insanely-passionate about the cause, since they probably are there because they too genuinely want to make those changes. Giving it to the government, by the time it filters through the bureaucracy, there’s precious little left to slide under the table to Haliburton, who always comes before anyone in need—THAT’S GOVERNMENT. It’s what they DO. It’s what they ARE. It’s their raison d’etre.

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By tomack, December 4, 2007 at 8:50 am Link to this comment

To: 2tonechaos

Your response to Inherit The Wind was wildly off the mark. Your philosophical approach with the light and the dark and the good and the bad, and the dark…and the light…and the bad…or was it good, didn’t specifically address his assertions.  Anyway, he’s right: the “Conservative” agenda, whether it be kind and gentle conservatives or nasty neocon types, has for many years fostered and propagated this devisive sentiment. My only difference of opinion with the estimable ITW is that of timing, because I believe this Plan started before Nixon. Yes, he rode that wagon well, as did Reagan (making it particularly un-American to be “liberal”), and it was then perfected by the goons presently taking up space in our nation’s capitol, but it started long, long ago.

By the way, it will be a cold day in hell before I opt for Church run charities. At least on a large scale. Local meals on wheels is one thing, true and national improvements—quite another.

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By 2tonechaos, December 4, 2007 at 1:35 am Link to this comment

Re: #117230 by Inherit the Wind…
You speak in very broad, starkly contrasting terms, which among other things, leads me to suspect that you may not have a very well-rounded understanding wherefore you speak. That’s fine, assuming you have no desire to learn any more on the subject, but there’s one thing that I think is particularly important for everyone to understand, since it is a fundamental aspect of the very idea of living truly FREE, and I’m amazed how few people realize this unavoidable fact of nature. You see, there are two sides to every story, coin, and many other things as well. We see this principle all around us, this framework composed of two more-or-less equal, essentially opposite/opposing, and often complimentary forces or entities or concepts. There are more than one ancient philosophies that hold this bi-polar dynamic to be a central or otherwise primary aspect of the very universe itself, holding everything we are and interact with in a naturally static balance. It is even the foundation and framework of our entire ability to perceive and assess anything at all. For, without the ‘dark’ or the ‘bad’, how can we have any basis to know the concepts of ‘light’ or ‘good’. If everything was perpetually good, we’d never know to enjoy it because we wouldn’t have anything to compare it to. So it’s the root of both our logical examination and our passionate participation/appraisal of life—which are, incidentally, the main portion of what makes up the “human experience” for us.  So we don’t just accept or deal with the reality of downs with our ups or the rain with our sunshine, if we are truly thankful for life then we actually relish/embrace their occurrence, at least as a general principle.

Freedom is no different. Much like the word “responsibility” (to use an example which is already very closely tied in to this topic), which to a teenager with a new driver’s license means something very positive like more unsupervised access to more cool things, like a car to drive. But it also means that s/he now going to be held accountable not only for these new luxuries, but also for all sorts of other things that were not required of them before, like taking out the trash, etc. Freedom is exactly the same way. No, there’s no one telling you what to do, so you can choose for yourself. But that also means there’s no one around to bail you out when you make hasty, ill-informed, unwise, or otherwise bad choices. So you can live anywhere you want…but it behooves you to find out all you can about the potential downsides so you can make the best personal decision based on your subjective weighing of the positive/negative. So essentially, yes, it really IS their fault for choosing to live there…in a free society, that is. But since we aren’t one, and the government took it upon themselves to butt in and overtake citizens’ private responsibilities, they were in fact responsible for the Katrina disaster.

As to social programs, granted, the Republican party has been large;y hijacked by crazed fundamentalists, but other, TRUE conservatives do not want to end all social programs. They want to end government social programs. And given the government’s handling of preparation for Katrina, not to mention it’s aftermath (and a thousand other examples), is it any wonder why they want to return social programs to charities and churches who truly want to help, as opposed to government, who has no personal investment of any kind in the social improvements and who furthermore has a history of not only being corrupt and sticky-fingered, but inefficient and wasteful, as well! Considering it that way, I think it’s actually the whiny “humanitarians” who are heartless and forcing cruel and insensitive punishment on the downtrodden!

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By 1984, December 3, 2007 at 4:28 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

the even scarier part of this is the 4 men picked up for the crime…all african american men , i think 17 was the youngest. if they actually did this crime there going to spend a lot of time in jail and the cycle continues. secondly in the article i read they were terrified,which seems odd for 4 young men who had previous petty crimes but were not even known to carry guns or be violent. the people who lived around these men said they just couldn’t see them even pulling this off. sean taylor is dead.the worst part is for the four men accused of his murder may not be the ones who did it. this perpetuates the myth of black on black violence which is worse. then it could be true maybe they did. but from i read i was thinking they may have been set up and the real murderers or murderer may slip away laughing thinking look at all those stereotypes brought up in the press and news and they bought it. rip sean taylor

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By 2tonechaos, December 1, 2007 at 7:31 pm Link to this comment

SarahB,
The point you make is so beautifully simple, and almost tangibly poignant. I am vehemently, categorically opposed to socialism for a long/diverse list of fundamental fallacies and starry-eyed, idealistic delusions, with which it is utterly riddled—nearly as much so in theory as it is in practical application—probably most of all because of the utter loss of subjective identity and personal liberty that is the unfailing result of any collectivist scheme. However, I also am fully aware that both (A:) if true freedom/liberty is to be had by you, me, or indeed anyone anywhere, then it must necessarily be a fundamental way of the lives of everyone everywhere (but should never be considered/discussed/applied in collective terms, of course), and (B:) the (almost hilariously) sheer magnitude of the amount by which “we” clearly outnumber “them”—they who would control/ultimately exploit us—is the only universal trump card held by “us” and should be coordinated and strategically applied as widely and often as possible (even if only to serve as a perpetual reminder that money, genetics, superstition, or any other excuse used to try and step on/herd/exploit other, fellow human beings ultimately becomes as effective as thin air at protecting one from being trampled by the fed-up). Our liberties and the protection of each individual human being’s inborn freedom to choose his/her path in life—provided it harms no one else—should never ever be referred to as anything other than the rights of you/me/every individual, as opposed to the rights of “the people”, “us”, etc. This way we avoid the bland, featureless result of smoothing the entire surface of society by forcibly rounding everything down to the lowest common denominator. But, when it comes to the defense of these rights for any/all of “us” (meaning “everyone on the face of this Earth—PERIOD.”), it should be the opposite, where no one is ever alone in being attacked, since everyone remains eternally aware of precisely what a deadly, highly-communicable disease (GUARANTEED to spread, simply as a matter of pure principle) it is to allow the concept of universal personal liberty to become contaminated with so much as one solitary precedent for excusing/justifying its limitation to any degree.
(Just look at Europe’s “velvet revolution”, not even long enough past to have been before the lifetime of most people possessing the ability to reason and think independently, even today, as I write this here and now…the largest part was over in a blink compared to the potentially decades-long strife of the vast majority of revolutions, and furthermore involved an amount of bloodshed and suffering so minuscule as to be practically nonexistent…all so effectively accomplished so mind-bogglingly simply by the population walking out in the streets and refusing to move until their ability to play some part in their own destiny/decisions was restored! Can you imagine??? That’s how fearfully outnumbered the “herders” truly are and how precariously dependent upon everyone’s apathy, acceptance and submission their power over the herd is!!! Have you ever heard anything so beautiful, simple, and utterly empowering??? All we need do is use it effectively…)

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By ntc, December 1, 2007 at 8:06 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The only people I saw talking about Taylor’s past were other black football players.

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By The Village Idiot, December 1, 2007 at 7:10 am Link to this comment

When I first heard the story, it only referenced his name, not his race. I don’t own a TV and haven’t watched football in a long, long time so I had never heard of Sean Taylor before I read a report of this incident. The report I read at first was just a tiny blurb that did not indicate his race.

Anyhow, my first thought was “yeah, big surprise, another shooting in the world of football.” This response was from personal experience. When I was in college, neither I nor anyone I knew ever went to the bar the football team went to because we all understood that you could get killed there. It was a major Research-1 university (35,000 undergrads), but fights, stabbings, and shootings (yes, plural) took place where the team preferred to hang out, and it was the only dangerous bar near the school. It was a singularly exclusive and thuggish culture, and if my perception is inaccurate then they’d do well to stop promoting that perception.

No other aspects of your self, such as character, are factored in when picking you for the team. It’s only about how good you are at the game; as long as you don’t actually kill someone, the team lawyers can do a lot to protect you. Then people are shocked when their own kids start acting like the thugs they idolize; after all, thuggery obviously pays big and football stars are “heroes” and “role models.”

None of this is to say what Taylor may have been into, or had done in the past, or anything in particular about this incident, rather I just find it telling that many people including myself are never surprised to hear about violence in and around the world of football, moreso than any other sport. Players who are not thugs should be working on fixing that image, seems to me, but as long as skill trumps all past transgressions or character flaws when it comes to being a top draft pick, we’ll be seeing plenty more of these stories coming from the wonderful world of football.

And why the hell wasn’t he defending his family with a FIREARM?

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By cyrena, December 1, 2007 at 4:57 am Link to this comment

•  #117238 by Coach Moore on 11/30 at 6:38 pm
The signal aspect of slavery in the American colonies and then in the United States of America is this: only African men and women were ever subject to it!
Coach Moore,
SaraB has already responded to correct you in this misconnection. (#117250 by SaraB), but since it is SO erroneous, it probably needs further clarification. While it is true that others (the Scots and the Irish and the Welsh) were also subjected to slavery, they did eventually gain a certain status as ‘indentured’ servants, so that at least they could rise above it. They also were not kidnapped and brought to this country for the purposes of slavery, but rather simply kicked out of their own countries as undesirables.
So, the brunt of the slavery was accomplished by the Indigenous Peoples of the land, until enough African slaves could be imported, since they ‘worked out’ far better than the Indians did. So you are only correct in that it was only blacks to whom the INSTITUTION of slavery was devoted, and incorporated into the Constitution itself, as a given. Only blacks were codified into the law as property, rather than human beings.

Still, the same accusations (clarified here by Mr. Robinson, though he certainly would not be the first to recognize this 400 year old phenomena) have also been directed at the surviving few Native Americans, and that too…continues to this day.

As far as the dominant while society/culture is concerned, these people are simply ‘not equal’ because if they were, then they wouldn’t be poor, and they wouldn’t be uneducated, and on, and on, and on. So, it is because of their ‘inherent’ inferiority, (according to the dominant white mentality) that makes them responsibile for their own victimhood.

Yes, it’s a very sick mentality, but of course it continues to exist. We see it right here, and right now, and well…so it is.

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By measles, November 30, 2007 at 10:33 pm Link to this comment

Thank you so much for such an insightful piece on how the media can try to sign us all up for a subscription to groupthink and how people of fame can be so easily dehumanized by making them into characters instead of people. You’re exactly right—you didn’t know the man any more than any other talking head who put his two cents in about who was to blame for his death, but you approached the facts with something all too many media outlets lack these days—reason and compassion. Thanks for shedding the light.

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By SaraB, November 30, 2007 at 8:48 pm Link to this comment

Coach Moore, there is difference between saying that slavery is a uniquely African and, thus, African/American experience (which it was and by the way it is still happening in some countries) and saying that only Africans were ever made into and traded as slaves. At one point the majority of slaves on the North America continent (90%) were Native Americans. Their numbers were quickly surpassed by Africans as the ‘Indian’ populations became extinct or severely reduced and a substitute had to be found. More than 100,000 Scots and Irish, something like a fifth of the surviving population were sold to the Americas (not as bonded servants - as slaves) by Cromwell’s regime in the 1650s. And so on.

I almost wish I hadn’t read this article because of the cold (almost genetic) fury that I have to work to step out of. There is something peculiarly WASPish in the attitude that the victim ‘asked for it’. It has been extended in place of contrition to the Irish, the Scots, the ‘savages’ of this continent and Arica, and still is to far too many victims of sexual or racial violence. The smug arrogance of the ‘elite’ classes (“its not our society that’s failing but these ‘black gangster types’ who bring it on themselves’ for instance) is as breathtaking now as it was 100, 200 years ago. Even Shakespeare remarked on it - “the insolence of office”. The law not only protects and avenges this class but excuses it from the demands it makes on the poor. So they really have no idea about life for most Americans - let alone for the rest of the world.

If we’re ever going to change this for the better then ordinary people will have to start making common cause with one another - loudly. Sean Taylor is you and me, murdered where he should have been most safe. His girlfriend and his child have had their lives mutilated by violence and loss. They belong to us too and whatever we demand for them is in reality what we demand for ourselves, our daughters, our grandchildren. The minute we say about any victim, of any race, age or sex, that could have been me, in some way that *is* me, we automatically know what is sane, what is true, what is really human. And we also start to become powerful.

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By Coach Moore, November 30, 2007 at 7:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The signal aspect of slavery in the American colonies and then in the United States of America is this: only African men and women were ever subject to it! In its searing flames the people we now call African-Americans were tempered. What the people of any other racial background may have become had they been placed in bondage for generations is a matter of conjecture, speculation, wild guess. It never happened to any other people.

Our present day social reality cannot be understood looking at a snapshot. The media’s treatment of the life and death of Sean Taylor is such a snapshot. What is now is a product of what was before. So it is impossible to understand Black America without an examination of their past. What does slavery do to a people? Certainly it brutalizes them. Physically there were the whippings and beatings, the castrations, the maimings, the executions. Mentally there was the forced disconnect from African cultures and history, the rendering of family, the prohibition against learning even to read.

There was no magical transformation from the state of affairs on Jan. 1, 1863 when Lincoln made the mid-Civil War strategic decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation or in 1865 when the anti-slavery amendments were added to the U.S. Constitution. What did follow were violent struggles against peonage and sharecropping, the migration to the cities and a forced entry into the industrial workforce, the civil rights and Black liberation movements. Some will claim that racism is nearly eradicated in the US but the scores of youths of color lying dead in the streets of Philadelphia, Chicago, New Orleans and Miami are today’s proof of the lie.

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By Inherit The Wind, November 30, 2007 at 7:15 pm Link to this comment

If the crime is really the victim’s fault, if everything bad that happens to a person is the victim’s fault, then we don’t have to take care of people when bad things happen to them.

This is the current Republican ethos: Witness Mitt Romney’s attack on Mike Huckabee for defending educating children brought here illegally by their illegal parents.  Huckabee, as right-wing as they come couldn’t take that cold, cold route of Romney: “They are illegal, send ‘em back”  “But they are innocent children who had no choice” said Huckabee.
“Send ‘em back” said Mitt—the same slob who switched from pro-choice to “protecting the innocent un-born children” but won’t protect innocent already-born children.

Notice where this ethos takes you: It’s PERFECTLY OK to not “waste” taxpayers’ money on the Katrina victims (except in Republican Mississippi).

It’s perfectly OK not to “waste” taxpayers’ money on the victims of the wild-fires.

Why? It’s their own fault for living where they live.

If EVERY victim is a victim through their own fault then the Re-thugs can justify ending EVERY social program.

Sean Taylor is yet another “victim is at fault” victim.

Plus, since we ALL know the Re-thugs have been courting the Southern White Redneck racists since Nixon’s Southern Strategy, ANYTHING that helps Black people is “bad”, and anything Black people suffer is “their own fault”.

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By Jacks, November 30, 2007 at 3:06 pm Link to this comment

This pathetic victim blaming also applies when women are victims of violent crime, especially rape or domestic violence.  Somehow they’re always “causing” men to attack them.

This man died protecting his family.  May God bless them.

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By sheila, November 30, 2007 at 12:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The need for people to find a reason for the tragedy rather than it just being a random act is related to maintaining some semblance of control over our own lives and sense of security.  Its sort of like reading a story about a death in a car accident.  Most of us look into the story to see if the deceased was wearing a seatbelt and are somewhat relieved if they were not.  I don’t see this media hysteria as all about racism.  I think alot of it is searching for a reason for the crime and I suspect there would also be intense media scrutiny if he was white.  So sad whatever the reason.

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By lodipete, November 30, 2007 at 11:22 am Link to this comment

“Why do you suppose so many people were so quick to blame Sean Taylor for his own murder? “

  Does this “so many people” include his friends and team mates? Or is us white folks who thinks sports are nothing but games for kids supposed to feel guilty because another brotha wants to use the “R” word?

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By SamSnedegar, November 30, 2007 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

The larger point here is not that either the media or the public is willing to judge the decedent on his past rather than on present circumstances, but that had the victim been a “nice boy” instead of a scumbag sometime gangbanger, then someone somewhere might have CARED whether he died, and some sympathy and compassion might have been extended to his family.

The public is funny: when bad things happen to good people, the masses feel bad for the victim and his family, but when bad things happen to bad people, either we applaud it or don’t give a shit.

Maybe Taylor was a good person masquerading as an antisocial thug, or maybe he was just another young man confused by too much money given him for nothing of any real importance compared with what firefighters, doctors, policemen, babysitters, farmers, mailmen, store clerks, and truck drivers do for their fellow men every working day of their lives.

Whatever he may have been underneath his persona, he died with no one caring but his family and perhaps some teammates who might have known something good about him which never has and never will be reported.

The way he died might give us a clue about how he lived: a normal person doesn’t take on an armed burglar with a machete, he calls 911 and lets the police force do its job. Taylor chose to act like a gangbanger and remedy the violence of an assault on his home with violence of his own, not just defending himself, but seeking to search out and destroy the intruder. Live by the sword and die by a gun.

RIP Sean Taylor.

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By Marjorie L. Swanson, November 30, 2007 at 5:29 am Link to this comment

I don’t think we need Sean Taylor to be a hero, although he may well have been. We need to see him for what he was, a victim. Need we always try to phycoanalize every event to death? Victims and their families deserve more than media and public playing at being CSI’s with a personal tragedy.

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By thomas billis, November 30, 2007 at 3:46 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The amazing thing is that you have to write this column.I mean have to because it is necessary.If this were a white man he would have been celebrated as a hero.This sad episode shows how anxious some in the white community are to believe the worst of our fellow black citizens.Whatever he was doing with his life is between him and his God.He is a victim pure and simple until facts dictate it is something different.Thank you for writing this column.

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