The trial of the second defendant in a Queens, N.Y., bias attack has
come to a close, but news outlets are showing some bias of their own
in their reports on the sentencing.
Paul Heavey, 21, got off with five years of probation and 75 hours
of community service for the attack in the Douglaston neighborhood
last August. He and 19-year-old Kevin Brown rammed a car carrying
four Chinese American teens and then beat two of the occupants when
they got out to check the damage, at one point using a metal wheel
lock that victim Reynold Liang had taken up in self-defense. All
throughout, the two shouted racial slurs like "stupid gook" and
statements like "get out of our neighborhood." (In March, Brown was
sentenced to three and a half years in prison for his role.)
As part of his sentence, Heavey was required to make an apology,
which we would guess is a standard, token gesture for a trial like
this. But an overwhelming number of news sources are giving undue
weight to Heavey's words, as you can see in these headlines by New
"Student apologizes for racial attack": Newsday
"Student Offers Apology For Queens Hate Crime On Asians": WNBC
"Little Neck man apologizes for Doug hate attack": Times Ledger
These headlines gloss over the lightness of the sentence and seem to
imply that Heavey exonerated himself with his apology, as if that's
all the victims could have hoped for or deserved. And they overlook
that the apology was mandatory. Seriously, how sincere could the
statement have been, under the circumstances? At the very least, it
wasn't "offered," as WNBC put it.
Also, check out this header that a few outlets, including the
globally distributed International Herald Tribune, are carrying:
"College student offers apology for hate crime on Asians"
Again with the offering. And is that his designation, "college
student"? That almost makes you think Heavey was wearing a cardigan
and carrying an armload of books when he decided to attack the teens.
Maybe these news outlets think rehabilitation starts with the
The New York Post, on the other hand, prefers to see Heavey's story
as it is:
"NO PRISON FOR QUEENS BIAS BEATER"
So just so we're clear, you can either get 5 years of probation and have to apologize to "the Asian American community" (or do 3.5 years in prison, which is marginally worse), for beating 4 Asian Americans with a wheel lock and calling them "gooks". However, you can go to prison for 8 years for selling Coca Cola's secrets to Pepsi.
God, I demand a do-over.