Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Is This Racism?

LOGAN, W.Va., Sept. 11 — A 20-year-old woman was held captive for more than a week in a mobile home, where she was raped, stabbed and tortured by at least a half-dozen people, the police said. Sheriff’s deputies rescued her on Saturday, and she remained hospitalized Tuesday in stable condition.

“I’ve been in law enforcement for more than 30 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything of this nature,” the Logan County sheriff, Eddie Hunter, said.

Six people, including a mother and her son and a mother and her daughter, have been charged in the case

The internet is abuzz with this story and how it represents the state of racism in America. While it is easy to draw that conclusion from the early evidence, I think it would be an oversimplification of the situation. It is alleged that some of the suspects used racial epithets to taunt the victim during her ordeal. While I believe that race was a factor in this case, the overriding factor is the dehumanization of another human being, regardless of race. I believe that as the evidence unfolds in this case the suspects will have a history of cruelty to all humans they have encountered.

For instance, Mr. Bobby Brewster the son of the owner of the trailer supposedly shot and killed his stepfather at the tender age of 12 and spent time in a juvenile facility. Race in this case would be a convenient place to hang your hat if that is your agenda. God knows there is plenty of evidence to do so, but in doing so you will miss the far greater issue in this case. For these sick individuals it would not have mattered if the victim were man, woman, child or animal. It would not have mattered if the victim were black, white, red, or green and it certainly wouldn’t have mattered if the victim were straight or gay. I mentioned these because they reflect the current extenuating circumstances for hate crime enhancement of sentences.

If charging these people with a hate crime will increase the likelihood that they will never see the light of day, so be it. But let’s not turn this into a cause célèbre about race, if we do we cheapen the true nature of racism and cover up the truth of how it permeates our society. There will be those who will show up at the bedside of the victim pontificating on how this represents American race relations, but they will only be trying to exploit this incident for their own personal agendas. We must be wary of those who will try to limit this to some personal crusade for justice.

If the suspects were black or the victim white would it make this act any less heinous? I would venture to say no. This says more about the state of American cruelty and how our society is becoming more savage with the passing of time. That there are people who would take advantage of this young woman because of her mental capacity speaks volumes about how we dehumanize each other to the point of this being acceptable to anyone. It is similar to the phenomenon we have seen in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the fact that the victims were Arab was secondary to the fact that those who perpetrated the crimes were able to exert power over another human. I have no doubt that those who are guilty of these types of crimes would commit them regardless of the racial makeup of their environment. Much like the crime of rape it is not so much about the victim as it is about the ability to project power over another human being.

I hate to say it, but this is more than racism. This is the embodiment of evil in our society and we must confront that fact as much as we must confront the racial aspects of this case. To ignore that fact is to ignore who and what we are becoming. To me that would be a greater injustice to the victim than whether this is a hate crime or not. It is definitely a hate crime, but it is a hate crime against all of humanity. So I end as I began, “Is this racism?”

Karen Burton – charged with malicious wounding, battery, assault during the commission of a felony.
According to a criminal complaint filed in Logan County, she pulled the victim’s hair, choked the victim, cut her ankles and told her “that’s what we do to niggers around here.”

Bobby R. Brewster – charged with kidnapping, first-degree sexual assault, malicious wounding, assault during commission of a felony.
According to the criminal complaint, Brewster forced to victim to have sex with him, threatened to kill her, stabbed the victim and forced her to eat rat and dog feces and drink from a toilet bowl.

Danny J Combs – charged with first-degree sexual assault and malicious wounding.
According to the criminal complaint, he forced the victim to have sex with him at knife point.

Frankie Lee Brewster - charged with giving false information, second-degree sexual assault, kidnapping, malicious wounding.
According to the criminal complaint, Brewster forced the victim to have oral sex with her, threatened to kill the victim and withheld information from police when they arrived at her residence to investigate a missing person report.

Alisha Burton - charged with assault during the commission of a felony, battery.
According to the criminal complaint, Burton beat and choked the victim.


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