The Shield

Victim blaming

Wolfram Burner

Wolfram Burner

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I’ve noticed this trend of blaming victims for what has happened to them, and it’s done by bringing up their past, regardless of how relevant it is to their victimization.

I personally find it disgusting, and I’ll be happy when it doesn’t take the place of actual news.

“This person was a passenger in a drunk driving accident, is injured, and is probably psychologically traumatized from the experience! Oh, but they smoked marijuana the previous afternoon!”

“One whole joint!”

“This black man gets shot by police? Oh, but he has photos on Instagram making hand signs!”

“Those hands probably touched guns once!”

“This man was forcibly removed from a flight and got injured in the process? It’s become a PR dumpster fire for United Airlines? Okay, but did you know that they maybe were arrested on drug charges 13 years ago?”

In any of these situations, how are these bits of information are relevant? What do these facts add to the story?

What do pictures someone has taken of themselves have to do with them taking a bullet from a cop?

What do drug charges from over a decade ago have to do with someone getting knocked unconscious and dragged off of an airplane?

I don’t need to know that about David Dao.

I shouldn’t have to know that about David Dao.

And therein lies the insidious nature of the Courier Journal’s recent coverage of Dao—regardless of their intent, he didn’t deserve what happened to him, and knowing these things compromises that.

Public opinion has no place in deciding guilt or innocence, and yet the onus is put on us to decide if someone “deserved it.”

So, to close, I’m just going to take a quick inventory of myself. I’ve never been arrested, I have neither gang affiliations nor a history of violence, and what few photos exist of me with firearms have all been taken at shooting ranges.

It’s going to be really hard to make me look like the bad guy if I ever get beat up and thrown off of a flight.

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Victim blaming