Are Black men being lynched in the media? I know I brought this up before when I addressed the Bill Cosby media crucifixion. I hope that you heard me, felt my spirit and didn’t jump to conclusions. You know and understand that I do not support any form of violence or force where women, children or people period are concerned. My point then was that the media is not the place to try, convict and sentence people. As the women have continued to come forth and make their allegations, it is difficult for most to not believe them. Bill Cosby is bleeding a slow death. All that he has stood for, contributed to social, creative, TV industry and racial relations has been darkened by a show of numbers. I was asked on CNN recently by Michael A. Smerconish, host of the weekly Saturday TV program, “Smerconish,” “Why would these women say these things if it’s not true, and one in particular who had a rap sheet, what would she get out of it?” I answered, “I’ll tell you what they will get, ‘reality TV show spin-offs, interviews, book deals, maybe a film, who knows?’ It’s all possible. People have lied for a lot less.
Here’s my position, it’s easy to draw conclusions based on what is presented, but we weren’t there and we don’t have all the facts. In the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg in 1953, after three years of public crucifixion, and no solid evidence of espionage, they were sentenced to death because of Ethel’s brother’s testimony. Years later he recanted his testimony and revealed that he had lied. Why? To save himself. He admitted that he didn’t think that they would be executed. Still, the weight of his testimony rested on the fact that he was Ethel’s brother…why would he lie?
I’m thinking about Ray Rice, who was suspended from the NFL indefinitely, fired from the Ravens and recently reinstated as a free agent because of the physical abuse towards his wife captured on tape. He has been vilified in the media even though his wife shared that they were both at fault. Now most of us grew up believing that there is never an excuse for a man to hit a woman. On the other hand, my father also told me, “Never confront a man like a man, unless you’re prepared for him to respond as a man.” So guess what? I never have.
However, Ray and Janay Rice had what should have been a private altercation, yet in today’s media landscape, there is no such thing so it became a public spectacle and evidence to sentence Ray to exile by public opinion. Here again, we were not there, we have no idea what happened moments before the altercation. There could be 1,000 different things that could have occurred that triggered their interaction on top of their intoxication. Did she gamble away their savings? Did he flirt? Why did she act so aggressively towards him, which in turn resulted in him abusing her? We don’t know. Janay told Matt Lauer on the “Today Show,” that they made a mistake, that they’re human, but the public’s response was not what she expected. In fact, the lack of compassion is absent, even from advocates against domestic violence who immediately assumed that it had happened before, though Jany denies it. The media has hired ‘specialists’ to read her body language and determine whether or not she’s lying, hiding or afraid. OH MY GOD! Can we just stop? Really people? We do not try people in the media’s court of public opinion. I don’t care how great it increases your ratings or hits. What happened to our sense of decorum, our sense of respect for others? There are too many great men and women who have exposed their human frailities and have been tremendous contributors to society, making a difference for us, to be so petty and mean spirited.
I know you have it in you. When Ben Roethlisberger was charged with the rape in 2008 and settled without a trial, it was considered resolved. The original suit listed Harrah’s employees who covered up the alleged sexual assault. All parties involved signed stipulations to dismiss the case. “Big Ben” was given a 6-week suspension from the NFL, but it lasted 4 weeks instead. In 2010, Roethlisberger faced similar allegations in Georgia from a 20-year-old college student in March. The girl accused Roethlisberger of sexually assaulting her after a night of drinking at a bar. Georgia authorities investigated the allegations; no evidence, so no charges were filed, then there was a third allegation of rape. Though the league suspended Ben, despite never being charged with a crime, not very many players get accused of rape three times. Further, each of the instances shared commonalities and yet the public let it go! I can’t say whether or not either man is guilty, but I do know that “Big Ben” paid off three, Cosby paid off one, Andrea Constand, who accused him of drugging and groping her. He admitted to consensual sex and apologized to his wife. Ben admitted nothing and expressed no remorse.
Then there’s Dominque Strauss-Khan, IMF leader, who was brought up on rape charges by the New York hotel maid where he was staying. She was a woman of African descent. She was vilified as a whore, slut and identified as associating with shady characters in the media (he later settled with her). Upon his return to France, French women came forth and accused Strauss-Khan of being involved in a prostitution ring and gang rape. Charges were thrown out by a judge and he walked away free.
Of course there’s Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Adrian Peterson and the President and so many more. My conclusion, yes the mainstream media and the public’s response treat Black men differently. Black men are more likely to experience a media lynching than not. So what are we going to do about it?