For today's college kids, the Rodney King beating seems mild and unremarkable

Originally published at:


What are ownership rates of cell phones (with video cam) in the general populace these days? And nobody’s saying that plenty of beatings weren’t happening back then. But when it all can get captured and uploaded and broadcast so easily, yeah. Those weird little survival mechanisms that filter our perceptions so we can handle our environment’s influx of stimulus without melting down under all the stressors…Crazy. Fasinating. Problematic.


That is one of the dangers with both real and manufactured outrage - as it becomes more and more common place with documentation, it gets easier and easier to ignore as “just the way it is”. It’s one reason why I don’t think adding hyperbole in reporting or blogging is a good thing, any hint of exaggeration makes it easy to assume one is making a mounting out of a mole hill.


Right. Much of the disconnect between black and white America on the Rodney King tape was whites saying – by and large – “WTF?” and blacks saying – by and large – “we fucking told you.”


Holy shit, that’s depressing.


This. At the time, the public wasn’t being inundated with videos of proof that this was happening, so it was a major wake-up call: to whites especially, but also to blacks and other minorities who might have thought they were experiencing a local issue of abuse when in fact it was (is) nation-wide in scope.


Another interpretation is that we remember Rodney King not because of the revelation that police were violent, but because of the massive riots which were initiated in response.

After all, black people in LA had been brutalized by the police continually for a Very Long Time before 1992. That wasn’t new, what was new was the possibility of a mass coordinated response, facilitated by the media.

Today we forget each of the people abused and murdered by the police not because we’re desensitized, but because we’re unable to mount a meaningful response. After all, everyone does remember Mike Brown, because his murder set off days of rioting. The random black person who is killed by the authorities every 36 hours? We don’t remember them because people didn’t have the power to make us remember.

Outrage cannot sustain itself in a vacuum. Without the power to act on it, the feelings evaporate without a trace. We don’t lack things to be upset about, we lack the strength, conviction, and coordination to act powerfully and disruptively when we are all upset about the same thing.


this seems right.
we all knew the police were corrupt and beating and killing people. a running gag was that so-and-so was charged with damaging police property by repeatedly headbutting a police officer’s boot.

rodney king was just one of the first times they were caught and filmed doing the beating.
we all thought, at last. now it’s going to stop…


Well that’s my moment of horror and despair for the day. I was a kid when that happened and it was a huge deal. Now it’s just an average Tuesday. :disappointed_relieved:


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.