PSA: The Knockout Game

The first I learned of this was a few years ago from Mike at Crime & Federalism, though I can’t find the link now (Here it is, thanks Mike).  Now, it’s all over the news. The knockout game.

I imagine it’s some variant on stupid, powerless youths attempting to substitute brute force and cowardice for their feelings of worthlessness.  Coming from a criminal defense lawyer, and some will most assuredly need a criminal defense lawyer if they aren’t killed before reaching that point, please know this:

You will get no sympathy. You will get no admiration. This is a dehumanizing blight, and it will come back to haunt not only those who do it, but as it appears to be a game played (at least for now) by young black men, your age and your race.  A lot of people worked very hard to try to end racism, and many died for it. It was not so you could devolve into animals for some sick amusement and pretend machismo.

As much as I hate to put it this way, no one will weep if you do this and terrible harm comes to you.  This is about as sick as it gets. Your moment of glory doesn’t make you tough or manly, but a pimple in need of popping, and there will be no shortage of people willing to do so.

And for any others who think this is funny, your encouragement of this disgrace will come back to haunt you as well. Any fool can sucker punch someone.  It proves your haters right. That is the only thing this accomplishes. Don’t do it. Don’t tolerate anyone else doing it.

18 comments on “PSA: The Knockout Game

  1. Brian Drake

    Repugnant. This is the first I’ve heard of this.

    I find it ironic that some members of a group of people historically victimized by an aggressive state apparatus, now embrace aggressive tactics “for the fun of it.”

  2. Joe

    My first though upon reading this was “this is a great way to get shot”. Sure enough, a quick Google search found that has already occurred (no link per rules). That was in response to an actual attack, but I wonder how soon we’ll see a preemptive shooting.

    1. SHG Post author

      I considered putting in the video of the kid who was shot, but decided against it as it just wasn’t a very good video. Nor does it go to the point of the post, even though I anticipated that some will immediately go in that direction. The point is for these kids to stop, not to shoot them.

  3. Nigel Declan

    Has anyone collected any data as to how prevalent this sort of behavior is? While I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment, Scott, I am reminded of the furor and alarm raised over “wilding” and its role in the wrongful conviction of the Central Park Five. I am hesitant to draw any conclusions without knowing whether this sort of behavior is pervasive, or whether it is something done only by a very small, isolated group which has been amplified through the feedback loop that results from widespread media coverage and speculation (i.e. the more attention something gets in the media, the more likely it is to be seen as an epidemic by other media sources observing the coverage).

    1. SHG Post author

      Nothing empirical that I’m aware of, but the anecdotal evidence (not to mention videos) are suddenly everywhere. I too am concerned that this is going to start a new wave of “wilding,” which is all the more reason to stop this crap before it gets out of hand.

      1. Rick Horowitz

        I wondered this same thing, particularly because while it has happened in several locations, I’ve really only seen about five to seven reports, of which at least one or two were not “certainly” connected to this.

        The reason I didn’t post anything sooner is that, IMO, with the press it’s getting, it’s bound to spread. And I’d thought about writing my own post about this (just haven’t had time) which would have been similar in tone to what Scott wrote.

        I hate to believe that I’m saying this, but even if we can stop ONE of these senseless things from happening, it would be worth it.

        Scott talked about how there are certain cases he would feel uncomfortable taking once. I thought that was weird; I’d never had that feeling yet. But when I first saw these stories, I thought, “okay; I get it; I don’t think I could defend one of these cases.”

        I’m not sure that would really be my reaction if someone came to me (because of my feeling that everyone deserves a defense, and is innocent unless proven guilty), but I’d have to think really hard about it.

        This is just about one of the most outrageous things I can imagine. Completely reminds me of the “rats in the overcrowded cage” experiments, though I don’t think it’s overcrowding that’s causing it. If it’s really spreading, it’s freaking scary.

        And it needs to stop being cool — which is what I fear it’s being seen as by the younger crowd — immediately.

        1. SHG Post author

          As Nigel said, I don’t know if it’s a real “trend” or a media-induced appearance of a trend. Either way, it has to stop, and it has to stop from the inside. The damage on the micro level is awful. The damage on the macro level could be devastating. It “needs to stop being cool” immediately.

    2. Andrew

      A friend of mine was a victim of this near the Shaw neighborhood of DC. They didn’t even take his wallet or his phone (which he certainly didn’t complain about, but it did make the act that much more pointless).

      1. SHG Post author

        Theft, as crimes go, is understandable. It’s purposeful. Knock out is not, which is what makes it so reprehensible.

  4. Eddie

    Long Island’s “Newsday” ran an extensive story on these assaults in today’s edition. But they left something out. Not one mention of the racial component.

    What rags our mainstream media have become.

    1. SHG Post author

      Race is a very touchy subject, and understandably so. Unfortunately, fear of being called racist ends up leaving information out, which in this instance seems material. Not having that concern, and being more concerned about the negative impact this is going to have for young black men, I am under no such constraint. For better or worse, I try to keep it real.

      1. Brett Middleton

        Fortunately we have writers such as Thomas Sowell and Walter Williams who can directly address the problem from a black perspective without being called racist. But where are the similar condemnations from Sharpton, Jackson, and others who supposedly have moral authority in the black community?

        1. SHG Post author

          I was kinda hoping that Charles Blow would jump into this, but nothing yet. Maybe Jay-Z, who may be more of a leader than Sharpton and Jackson.

  5. Mike Vasovski

    Perhaps the people who cross over to the other side of the street when being approached by someone of color have been justified all along. They moved away because they felt threatened.

    1. SHG Post author

      That goes way too far. That a few kids are now engaging in this outrageous behavior doesn’t explain or justify generations of unfounded fear based on skin color.

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