Early in 2011, a boy, Justin Patterson, was shot and killed by the father of a girl he was spending time with. Norman Neesmith was angry to see Justin on his property with his daughter. He grabbed his gun and chased the 22 year old. One of four bullets shot sliced through Patterson’s side. He died in Neesmith’s yard that night.
Over the past months, Patterson’s parents have been watching the Trayvon Martin news coverage and wondering why the injustice that killed their son wasn’t as publicized. Why weren’t their walks dedicated to their son’s death? Why wasn’t Al Sharpton booking a ticket to the location of Patterson’s killing?
Senior editor at The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates, says that the reason behind some cases with racial implications are put in the national spotlight due to “social and traditional media”. She says that sadly, what happened to Patterson is not unusual.
The family is enraged that their son’s killer only got a slap on the wrist and the N.A.A.C.P. has not even gotten involved.
I am not surprised that Patterson’s story was not a nationally known event. Look at Casey Anthony. Unfortunately, I don’t think Anthony was the first person to ever hurt their child, but just like the KONY2012 video, social media and news coverage latch onto stories for one reason or another. Someone involved could be a celebrity or someone could have put together a flashy video that went viral about the topic. Once anything is so commonplace that even slacktivists are interested, we all get involved, typically emotionally and feel it is our duty to take a stance against a killer or for someone who faced an injustice.
Basically, there isn’t always a rhyme or reason things go viral. The editor in the story claims Trayvon Martin’s case was popular because of media, but then she continues on to discuss ideas of how that instance was more unusual than Neesmith killing Patterson.
Should we pay attention to every killing? Is it right for us to get involved when we don’t know the situation first hand? Maybe we need to get to the root of the problem and work towards teaching tolerance so less killing is the norm.