Two weeks ago, a 78-year-old Jewish woman was punched in the face in Midwood, Brooklyn, by a young, black man. A similar incident occurred on Monday, and an unknown number of similar incidents have prompted an NYPD investigation into whether a attacks on Jewish victims constitute hate crimes — and whether they are actually part of a disturbing new trend, called the “knockout” game.
Naturally, the knockout game — specifically, whether not it exists as an epidemic — has spurred a media frenzy, with believers claiming the trend is cause for alarm, and skeptics deriding the coverage as proliferation of yet another trend that doesn't exist.
At best, they say, the believers are naive and hysterical; at worst, racists following a systematic trend of pointing to isolated incidents of crimes committed by young black men as justification for harmful generalizations. The believers, for their part, say the denial is typical of the left-wing media, who prefer politically correct sensibilities to the truth. Neither side has much to go on.
The New York Times cited Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as saying his team is “trying to determine whether or not this is a real phenomenon.” He adds, “I mean, yes, something like this can happen. But we would like to have people come forward and give us any information they have.” That's actually a pretty reasonable reaction, considering the difficulty in determining criminal trends; especially in the age of 24-hour news coverage, where the copycat effect creates attackers inspired by the ‘trend’ to capitalize on the media’s branding.