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Should We Be Blogging About the "Jena 6"?: I'm with Glenn Reynolds on this. I'd really like to blog about the case, and I spent about 30 minutes this morning trying to research it, but I couldn't get a good enough sense of what the facts are or what the precise cause of the protest is to really know what to make of it. Wikipedia has the best summary I could find, and it seemed to suggest that the problem was a decision by prosecutors to overcharge a case in an environment of severe racial tensions. Specifically, the state charged one juvenile as an adult and initially charged him with attempted murder even though there was no evidence of that intent (and then dropped it to assault with a deadly weapon, even though the evidence of a deadly weapon was questionable). But I did find it hard to get a sense of what was going on, at least so far. As Glenn puts it, "The signal-to-noise ratio [isn't] that good."

  UPDATE: I had missed this summary by Radley Balko, which is very helpful.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. Sunday Song Lyric:
  2. TalkLeft on the "Jena 6":
  3. Should We Be Blogging About the "Jena 6"?:
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TalkLeft on the "Jena 6": Over at TalkLeft, Jeralyn Merritt has a very helpful post on what we know — and what we don't — about the "Jena 6" controversy. Based on her summary, it looks like we don't yet have clear evidence of racial discrimination in the charging decisions. There were two charging decisions that seem questionable, but we don't yet have the context to know why they were made. Perhaps we'll get that evidence in time, but I don't think we have it yet.

  I realize that some will find this terribly naive, on the theory that in our gut we all know what was happening (a reaction that explains posts like this). But I'd rather go on evidence than our gut feelings on this one, especially given how many people are trying to get to the bottom of the facts.
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Sunday Song Lyric: John Mellencamp's new song and video, "Jena," has struck a nerve with the town's mayor, Murphy R. McMillin.
"The town of Jena has for months been mischaracterized in the media and portrayed as the epicenter of hatred, racism and a place where justice is denied," Jena Mayor Murphy R. McMillin wrote in a statement on town letterhead faxed on Friday to The Associated Press.

He said he had previously stayed quiet, hoping that the town's courtesy to people who have visited over the past year would speak for itself. "However, the Mellencamp video is so inflammatory, so defamatory, that a line has been crossed and enough is enough."
The mayor is particularly upset with, what he sees, as the song's characterization of his town, and the video's juxtaposition of the current controversy with images from the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. "To put the incident in Jena in the same league as those who were murdered in the 1960s cheapens their sacrifice and insults their memory," McMillan said.

In response to such criticism, Mellencamp posted a statement on his website, Mellencamp.com (where one can also find the song lyrics and video).

I am not a journalist, I am a songwriter and in the spirit and tradition of the minstrel, I am telling a story in this song.
The story is not, strictly speaking, about the town of Jena or this specific incident but of racism in America.
The song was not written as an indictment of the people of Jena but, rather, as a condemnation of rasicm, a problem which I've reflected in many songs, a problem that still plagues our country today.
The current trial in Jena is just another reflection of prejudice in our nation. If the song strikes an emotional chord with people and if they examin it and interpret as they will, something will have been accomplished. The aim here is not to antagonize but, rather, to catalyze thought.
As for the lyrics, here is how the song begins.
An all white jury hides the executioner's face
See how we are, me and you?
Everyone here needs to know their place
Let's keep this blackbird hidden in the flue

Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Oh oh oh Jena
Take your nooses down

UPDATE: As noted in the comments, while Mayor McMillin does not like John Mellencamp's suggestion that Jena is a racist community, this story suggests he was not so upset about receiving "moral support" from white supremacist groups.

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