D.C Metro Murder Undermines Liberal Talking Points
The brutal killing of Kevin Sutherland in the Washington, D.C., subway on July 4, does much to undermine popular leftist tropes, in this case, race, crime, guns and drugs, just as the murder of Kathryn Steinle in San Francisco challenges liberal immigration policies. Sutherland was beaten and stabbed to death on a Metro train by a drug addled African-American teenager in the middle of the day in front of about a dozen other stunned passengers.
Sutherland’s killer, 18 year old Jasper Spires, shares many characteristics with more famous and lionized Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown, except that while the latter two were shot to death by armed men in the midst of physical assaults, Spires took full advantage of his unarmed victim (and other passengers) to complete his crime and survive, and is now in custody. The mainstream media and leftist politicians have mostly downplayed the incident, since Spires cannot be caricatured as a victim of white racism. Indeed, the problem for the media is that in almost every respect, this encounter shows the utter inanity and hypocrisy of many of their favored talking points and positions.
Of course, D.C.’s only major newspaper, the Washington Post, could hardly overlook the killing, but has done its level best to downplay things. The Post first reported the murder in its local Metro section, though such a brutal public killing on Independence Day would probably been front-page news had circumstances been more to the news editors’ liking. That article noted that Sutherland was a vibrant, well-liked recent transplant to the city, but did not include a picture or indicate that he was white and probably gay (it did suggest he was an LGBT activist), but it did show a photo of Spires. A follow-up article made the front page, but the tone of reportage has been of the “that’s too bad” variety, not outrage. The online version of that article shows photos of both the perp and victim.
The killing undercuts a half-dozen leftist talking points, and shows the hypocrisy redolent in the outrage expressed by politicians (like President Obama), race baiters like Al Sharpton, and countless media elites.
Two days before murdering Sutherland, Spires was arrested by D.C. cops for violently attempting to rob another man, and assaulted police as they tried to take him in. Had he been killed by police in that incident, the recent high school grad, who also briefly attended a private college in North Carolina, would no doubt been treated by the press and the President like Martin, Brown or Freddy Gray up the road in Baltimore, as a promising young man who became a tragic victim of the police war against young black men. But Spires appears to have been uninjured by police despite his combativeness and small (5’5”) stature. Local prosecutors then reduced charges and the police released him. Spires stopped by a D.C. police station and picked up his personal belongings from that arrest shortly before killing Sutherland. Not only does this demolish the idea that police are out to get guys like Spires, it demonstrates just how lax the justice system is about dealing with violent criminals, whatever their race.
Spires was armed with a small folding knife, similar to that carried by Freddy Gray. In that case, Baltimore officials went out of their way to excuse Gray from carrying the knife, as if such things in the hands of repeat criminals hardly mattered. After all, knives don’t kill, guns do.
D.C. has some of the tightest gun control in the country, as does neighboring Maryland. Until a recent federal court ruling found it unconstitutional, D.C. banned private ownership of handguns and the right to carry. Since that ruling D.C. police instituted extremely strict guidelines on concealed carry permits, with recent reports indicating that a total of eight have been issued. So the likelihood that Spires would have met an armed victim in either of his attacks was nil. This obvious fact, and the very public nature of Sutherland’s killing, has spawned a lot of second guessing in social media and talk radio, of the “what would you have done” variety, with not a few people pointing out that an armed civilian on the Metro car might have stopped the attack.
If Sutherland’s killing doesn’t outrage the liberal press, then such public commentary does. In an unusual move, the Washington Post’s July 10 edition moved the Petula Dvorak Metro column (she’s the paper’s reliably leftist suburban mom) to page one. Dvorak never misses a chance to excoriate gun owners or 2d Amendment advocates, “reporting” recently from a Virginia “death bazaar” (gun show) as if she were a foreign correspondent, openly scornful of vendors and attendees. In the July 10 column she ridiculed people who said that they would have intervened during the attack, and especially those that pointed out how useful a gun might have been in the situation, calling them “cowboys.” Her incisive analysis: that an armed passenger might have hit others with stray bullets or caused a hostage situation. How either result could have occurred, with all the terrified passengers crowed in one end of the car, while Spires stabbed and beat Sutherland to death in the other, she didn’t make clear, but maybe she thinks bullets have minds of their own and can go backwards? Or that a gun-wielding passenger would have held Spires hostage? Of course, she never considers that a passenger just producing a gun might have ended the incident peacefully and without any casualties.
Ironically, this case also undermines the left’s anti-gun crusade in that Sutherland probably would still be alive today if Spires had a gun rather than a knife. It appears Spires first tried to grab Sutherland’s belted cell phone, and stabbed his victim only after Sutherland resisted. Had Spires threatened Sutherland with a gun, the young man likely would have handed over his phone and whatever else the criminal wanted. That criminals and madmen will kill with guns or without doesn’t fit the leftist model.
Finally, there is the drug issue. Spires appears to have acted under the influence of synthetic marijuana, which is widely available in D.C. over-the-counter at many stores. D.C. officials are only now pushing hard on enforcement in the wake of Sutherland’s murder. Yet D.C. just legalized natural marijuana, which often has the same effect on young men as the synthetic kind. Though heavily played down by the press and liberal politicians, Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown were both high on the drug, which on some people (especially young men) produces not a mellow high but aggressiveness and a sense of invulnerability. But reporting that truthfully would undermine the pro-drug agenda.
For liberals, the murders of Kevin Sutherland and San Francisco’s Kathryn Steinle are evidence written in blood of the foolishness and callousness of their worldview. For the left, some ghoulish murders like those in Charleston are worth exploiting, while others are best ignored, lest people actually start thinking about the way things really are, instead of the interpretive, narrative world that liberals live in.