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Manufacturing Equivalent Outrage

August 26th, 2013

There has been a great deal of “outrage” in right-wing media and blogs lately about the Christopher Lane murder, and how it’s not a big deal in the media. The thesis of this outrage is, “a white/Hispanic man shoots a young black man, and the nation goes into an uproar; three black kids (as conservative sources originally identified them; in fact, one of the kids is white) senselessly murder a young white man, and the media falls silent.” A representative sample from The Daily Caller:

A Hispanic guy shot a black teenager in self-defense, and it was proof that America hasn’t gotten any better since Emmett Till was murdered. Whereas the following story, which is literally an international incident, has no significance beyond the individuals involved. It’s not useful to Al Sharpton and Barack Obama.

This article has a fair rundown of how the conservative media is handling the story.

I do not use the word “outrage” in quotes because there is no outrage, but rather because it is politically manufactured outrage. This commonly happens after a story that puts conservatives at a disadvantage: they pounce on a story that seems to turn the tables, carefully frame it to suit their political needs, then start beating the drum across the media. You know how some people, when you criticize them, by reflex start criticizing you back on some other matter? That’s essentially what this is: an attempt to excuse their own shortcomings by trying to make the “other side” look hypocritical.

“It’s worse than a double standard. This is a purposeful, willful ignoring of the exact racial components, but in reverse, that happened in the Trayvon Martin shooting.” —Rush Limbaugh

And, as is usual when conservatives do this, the “equivalent” story isn’t equivalent at all. Conservatives, like Limbaugh above, claim that the Lane story should have gotten the exact same reaction as the Trayvon story because they were identical, only with races reversed. Their complaint is that the media and liberal leaders react to incidents when the victim is black and the assailant is white (or close to that), but if the assailant is black and the victim is white, liberals and the “Liberal Media”™ fall silent. They further postulate that because of such, they don’t actually “care” about the black victims but are using them to further an agenda. (Keep conservative tendencies to project in mind, now.)

Which, of course, is not even close to being true. The Martin case would not have been in the news at all had it not been for the fact that (1) the police failed to act on what appeared to be at minimum negligent homicide; once that made the story of some note, it became bigger when (2) the defense used was a controversial law that seems to legitimize killing someone for insufficient cause; and then it was further inflamed when (3) it became apparent that the entire incident was caused by racial profiling.

Race was absolutely a factor, but it was not what made the story a big one. There have been many other killings of black people by white shooters under the “stand your ground laws,” but none of them made national headlines—proving that race alone was not what made the story significant.

In the Christopher Lane killing—which did make national headlines—none of the elements that made the Trayvon Martin case significant exist. The killing did not appear to be racially motivated, but rather simply opportunistic; the killers have been arrested and will almost certainly be convicted in accordance with popular expectation of justice; and no controversial law is being used (at least not yet) to get the killers off.

Now, had the three youths immediately cited a controversial law, had the police processed them then let them go, and had there been evidence that they had chosen their victim because of his color— you can bet you life that it would be as much a story nationwide as the Trayvon Martin case. But none of those elements existed, therefore the two cases are not at all equivalent.

So the whole “where’s the outrage?” outrage on the right is, as usual, completely unfounded, as most of their politically motivated crap tends to be.

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  1. Troy
    August 26th, 2013 at 14:50 | #1

    part of the problem is the nation too easily divides skin color from socio-economic status.

    That’s what these two shootings have most in common, the socio-economic angle.

    The fiction is that this is a meritocracy and that poor minorities are poor due to their own inabilities.

    However, the deck is stacked against poor people, and has become increasingly so since the 1970s . . .


    Mfg jobs now below Truman Admin levels . . .


    Nominal rents up a factor of 8X, in real terms:


    up 10% — this means that as wages have risen since 1980, so have rents right alongside.

    This results in a massive flow of rent money from the poor to the rich. But nobody can see this as a problem.

    My one hope for Japan is that your depopulation will reverse the real estate treadmill, and rents and home values will continue to fall, and less a deadweight draw out of people’s paychecks.

  2. Troy
    August 31st, 2013 at 03:45 | #2

    Not apropos, but I found this chart interesting:


    Shows Japan’s baby boom as young adults (red line) peaked at 1970

    There was a baby boom echo arriving right when I came to Japan in the 1990s (good timing!) but it’s been pretty dismal since 1993 if you’re looking for new young adult customers.

    That graph hints that maybe the echo echo will start arriving now, but looking at Japan’s live births 1990-now, it’s clear that the age 15-24 population will continue that slow decline, down from 12.2M this year to 11M by 2026.

    Japan’s age 25-54 population (blue line) is going to decline from ~50M now to 40M by 2030.

    This is a demographic change new in human history, outside of catastrophe.

    I’m thinking it will be easier for Japanese-speakers to get a real job in Japan this decade and next, but who knows.

  3. Troy
    September 1st, 2013 at 13:48 | #3

    Apologies for another off-topic chart:


    compares US and Japan age 55-64 populations.

    Japan’s postwar baby boom was short, just 1947-49, while the US’s went on from 1946-64. What this means is that Japan’s baby boom is in their mid-60s while ours is aged 50-68!

    Demographically, this means Japan’s peak age 65+ population is more than halfway arrived, while the US’s is just getting started.

    Another graph, comparing age 65+ populations:



    shows how this population is only going to grow another 15% from here, not too bad!

    The US, on the other hand, is going to see its Medicare-age population rise from 50M to 80M by 2035, a 60% rise!

    I think I’d rather have Japan’s demographic challenge than the US’s this century, unless we can get our energy situation sorted out, then the US’s increasing population might not be the problem I fear it will be.

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