Sometimes people -- and when I say people, of course what I really mean is Matt Drudge -- can get over the top about youth violence, especially when there's a racial spin, taking a string of less-than-remarkable episodes that don't have a lot to do wiith each other and making it look like "Days of Rage II.' Indeed, my friends over at Media Matters took Drudge to task today for once again stringing together headlines about racially changed youth incidents, but this one time I have to note that...
a) These incidents -- while perhaps overhyped by Drudge in his usual fashion -- are still all too real.
b) and they're alarming, especially the ones I know the most about, here in Philadelphia. In fact, what I find truly appalling is that a horde of young people assaulting random, innocent people on Spring Garden Street probably wouldn't have even made the news had it not been the case that a current and a former Daily News staffer -- the latter broke her leg in the melee -- were caught up in it. You have to wonder -- how many other incidents like this are taking place that the police aren't bothering to tell us about?
I'll make the same point I've made about urban violence in Philadelphia in the past. Conservatives portray this strictly as a case of personal responsibility, of the perps and the parents who allegedly raised them. Liberals look toward societal causes -- lack of jobs, unequal schools, laws that make it easy to buy guns, etc. For some bizarre reason, this becomes an either/or debate.
But clearly, it's all these things.
Ultimately, people who think it's a good idea to rob and maim innocent people are the ones responsible for their irresponsible and thuggish actions, with -- in the case of the younger perps -- an assist from blase or outright bad parents (like the ones described in this other mob incident, involivng Philly kids in neighboring Upper Darby).
But why is it suddenly worse now? CBS News reported recently that the unemployment rate for kids 16-19 years old is a whopping 24 percent, while as recently as 2000 is was just 13 percent. Aren't you less likely to take part in a mob when you're busy flipping burgers or valet-parking cars in Center City, and why aren't policy makers taking aim at youth unemployment? So school's out, no one has a job but everyone has a cell phone and a Twitter or Facebook account, meaning dozens of bored teenagers can come together in a matter of minutes? That's a recipe for disaster.
It certainly was for Emily Guendelsberger, the fomer DN copy editor. now Philadelphia editor of The Onion's entertainment guide called the AV Club. She's in the hospital with that broken leg (get well soon) and you can follow her tweets about bad hospital breakfasts and morphine here. In fact, you can help Emily get well. You can donate money to pay for her medical care.
Why? Well, it turns out that The Onion/AV Club hired her as "a contractor," a fancy way of saying they don't provide health insurance. You know...that's the kind of 2011 corporate America bull(bleep) I've counted on The Onion to make fun of, not perpetrate. Their campaign to win a Pulitzer Prize just got a lot less funnier -- shame on them.