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Riehl: Lighter Skin Less Menacing

Charles Johnson catches right-wing blogger Dan Riehl pushing a false and racist conspiracy theory that the evil media is trying to make Trayvon Martin seem “less menacing” by photoshopping his picture to lighten the skin. Here’s the screengrab:

Leaving aside the fact that Riehl obviously equates darker skin with being “menacing,” Johnson debunks the conspiracy:

But in fact, this BOMBSHELL is yet another foot shot for the intellectually challenged Dan Riehl, because if you actually follow his own link to the article at the Miami Herald, and read the caption underneath the photo he claims is “the original,” you discover that it’s a photograph of a low resolution copy of the picture on a sign at a protest — not “the original” at all…

Riehl isn’t the only Breitbrat pushing this idiotic non-story; CNN contributor Dana Loesch is also raving about it on her radio show, in addition to making all kinds of other weird, racist claims.

And after having this pointed out to him, does Riehl offer a retraction or even update the post noting that his entire premise is false? Nope. He goes on Twitter and accuses Johnson (@Lizardoid on Twitter) of having STDs. Seriously.

RT @EricStrobel: @DanRiehl @larsoneric50 The only thing that explains how @Lizardoid has lost his mind so rapidly is untreated syphilus.

And then he doubles down:

Fact is, if @Lizardoid walked down the street I grew up on w his ponytail. The white kids and blacks kidz would’ve kicked his ass 2gether

This is what passes for thinking among wingnuts.

Comments

  1. Who Knows? says

    I’ve been very surprised at the racists crawling out from under the baseboards over this story. They eat up stories like this and I’m not going to follow the link because I’m easily offended.

  2. says

    Oh, come on! You have to look at the positive. The Reactionary Right are going out of their way to defend a Hispanic. And he’s not even Marco Rubio.

  3. Chris from Europe says

    I read several of the posts dealing with Riehl. If you ignore the sad aspect that he isn’t as much an outlier as he should be, then it’s quite funny.

    But also some of Johnson’s commenters don’t get it. One can’t belief that America’s criminal and justice systems are racist. There must be something else in his mind like single mothers.

    Isn’t it stunning that Loesch is still CNN contributor?

  4. says

    pinkboi “#2 What will it take for them to defend a Black person? Him shooting a Muslim?”
    Don’t be ridiculous. Those are both the same thing!

    Chris from Europe “Isn’t it stunning that Loesch is still CNN contributor?”
    Yeah. Typical Liberal Media!

  5. baal says

    When you’re willfully anti-reason like the Brietbrats (ok, I love that coinage) the concept of what came first or second doesn’t even hit their brains. Without even getting that far, it’s now an advanced topic for them to have thoughts about the process or mechanism that lead to the one image or the other and how that might matter to the point they were (contra-factually) trying to make.

  6. says

    So, his basic argument is that the media lightened the skin tone of Martin in order to make him less threatening. But, of course, there’s no way racism could have played a role in the shooting or the failure of police to investigate it. Darker looking people are more threatening, but we’re not racist, no sir. Is he really this stupid?

  7. doktorzoom says

    Area Man, as we all know, the only racism that still exists is the virulent racism of liberals who think that race could ever be a factor in a shooting of an unarmed black kid. Why, even mentioning that Trayvon Martin was black is probably a form of race-baiting.

    Also, Obama is the food-stamp president.

  8. laurentweppe says

    What will it take for them to defend a Black person? Him shooting a Muslim?

    Well, there was Rush Limbaugh having this fling with Joseph Kony

  9. John Hinkle says

    These racist pea brains have all the compassion of a lizard swallowing a cricket.

    Apologies to lizards…

  10. says

    OT, but not really.

    It appears that Mr. Zimmerman was listening to the Rev. Benny Hinn on the police cruiser’s radio while he was being transported to the county lock-up. For a guy who suffered a broken nose and had his head repeatedly bashed into the concrete pavement, he looks in remarkably good fettle.

    Why anyone who is not insane would listen to Dan Riehl is beyond me–oh, wait, did I say something about his audience’s mental state?

  11. NoVaRunner says

    Riehl may be wrong in this particular instance, but accusations of lightening or darkening photos to make the subject more or less “menacing” are not uncommon. Probably the most noteworthy instance was Time Magazine’s June 27, 1994 cover, the O. J. Simpson mug shot, which had been considerably darkened. The magazine’s managing editor issued an apology after accusations of racism.

  12. harold says

    This is actually no more repulsive than most of the stuff I have seen.

    Apologies for the long comment, but there is a lot of crap out there, and I want to summarize it.

    Incidentally – cops wanted to charge Zimmerman with manslaughter, prosecutor intervened and shut that down. Zimmerman’s father is a retired white judge (his mother is a Peruvian immigrant). The shutdown of the investigation and failure to charge Zimmerman could have been about cronyism and social class as much as about race.

    However, the repulsive side of the response has been 100% about race. Remember – armed Zimmerman in a car followed unarmed walking Martin, against law enforcement advice, Zimmerman initiated a confrontation, and Martin ended up shot to death (fact, not in dispute). The protest has primarily been about lack of arrest and lack of adequate investigation. In fact I strongly suspect that Zimmerman is acutely mentally ill. But the issue is that he was set free without even a charge, not that he is guilty of a specific crime. It is for the courts to decide if he is guilty of a specific crime.

    I have seen the following types of obnoxious rationalization.

    1) Trayvon Martin wasn’t perfect. What is described in the OP fits in that general category. He was six foot three, he has been suspended from school, he was wearing a hoodie, he owned gold tooth caps. This is all grotesquely absurd; if he had been an actual criminal with a serious record and known gang affiliation, for example, gunning him down when he was unarmed would still have been worthy of serious criminal investigation.

    2) Crimes are committed by blacks against whites. This has tended to focus on two crimes, both of which have been actively investigated, and resulted in fairly serious charges against the perpetrators. In one such crime, a serious one, a thirteen year old white boy was set on fire. This occurred in Kansas. He recovered (I don’t know the extent of permanent injury), his attackers, who were juveniles, were arrested, and it is being treated as a hate crime. In a far less severe but still disturbing incident, an 18 year old black girl repeatedly punched a white girl during a soccer game. This occurred in South Carolina. The girl has been charged with battery but not with a hate crime. Neither of these incidents has any relevance to the Martin case, and Zimmerman has not been charged with ANY crime, let alone a hate crime. Homicide wanted to charge him with manslaughter but the cops were over-ruled.

    3) Various unpopular figures are “involved”, typically Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Spike Lee. Spike Lee has in fact behaved repulsively (no surprise), tweeting a supposed address of Zimmerman that is actually the address of an uninvolved elderly couple (I don’t know their ethnicity, and to be fair, Spike Lee has subsequently issued fairly sincere sounding apologies). I have no idea whether Sharpton or Jackson has had any “involvement”. Anyway, this is pure dog whistle bullshit.

    4) Trayvon Martin’s family is imperfect. This mainly involves discussing the fact that his mother has tried to trademark some “Trayvon” phrases (which was breathlessly reported as Brietbart style “breaking news”). This seems distasteful but the given explanation is that she doesn’t want others profiting by selling t-shirts at rallies. Anyway, it’s irrelevant.

    As far as I’m concerned, anyone who uses any of these illogical rationalizations should be deeply ashamed.

  13. Chris from Europe says

    Zimmermann’s father complained about Obama’s response to the situation and his “hate”. It’s laughable, but at least it informs us where Zimmermann’s attitudes are coming from.

  14. juice says

    Ok, lets get all the info straight here. The caption reads, “A photo of Trayvon Martin wearing a hoodie was used on banners and signs carried by protesters in New York City on March 21, 2012. MARIO TAMA / GETTY IMAGES”

    It doesn’t say that the photo used in the story was taken from a banner or sign.

    If you look at the lighter picture, it looks shooped for sure. It’s also a slightly different aspect ratio than the darker one, which looks more like the other images of Martin. Neither one looks particularly menacing or innocent since he has a pretty bland expression on his face.

    IMO, it’s a reasonable question to ask why the photo was altered, though. And one can speculate as to the reason. And one can legitimately criticize various media outlets regarding how they’ve handled this story.

  15. juice says

    Probably the most noteworthy instance was Time Magazine’s June 27, 1994 cover, the O. J. Simpson mug shot, which had been considerably darkened. The magazine’s managing editor issued an apology after accusations of racism.

    No. No. It’s racist to point it out and question it.

  16. says

    As we get more info, it’s looking less like the cops fucked up and more like the prosecutor and maybe police administration did.Bottom line is this is fucked up and leaving things alone won’t get us any answers.

  17. harold says

    If you look at the lighter picture, it looks shooped for sure. It’s also a slightly different aspect ratio than the darker one, which looks more like the other images of Martin. Neither one looks particularly menacing or innocent since he has a pretty bland expression on his face.

    IMO, it’s a reasonable question to ask why the photo was altered, though.

    It’s borderline reasonable. However, the question presumes that you have correctly identified alteration. It’s fairly common for people to believe the something has been altered more extensively that it actually has.

    The idea that a photo was altered to make Trayvon Martin look less dark-skinned in order to make him appear less “menacing”, by a person sympathetic to the idea that Zimmerman should be more rigorously investigated and charged, strikes me as unlikely. I can’t rule it out, but almost all of us who feel that it is not appropriate that there was no serious investigation or arrest, despite the fact that Trayvon Martin was shot, while unarmed, by someone who followed him and initiated the confrontation (a group which includes members of the local police force that attempted to start an investigation), feel that Martin’s skin tone is irrelevant. (Note that I am not at all presuming Zimmerman’s guilt of anything, I just think it is obvious that he should have been more rigorously investigated, and been charged, “stand your ground” laws notwithstanding. I’d be satisfied to have a judge and/or jury determine his actual guilt.)

    A more likely reason for alteration, if there even was any, would be simple formatting issues.

    And one can speculate as to the reason. And one can legitimately criticize various media outlets regarding how they’ve handled this story.

    Yes, but can I ask, what is your specific criticism?

    I do criticize outlets that have rationalized the shooting on irrelevant grounds, as I noted above.

    What is your specific criticism, of which specific media outlets?

  18. juice says

    harold,

    You’re looking for something to be outraged over so you want me to say something outrageous (to you).

    This blog post was about how unreasonable and racist it was for the other blog poster to point out a photo alteration (which looks to me like not much more than an increase in contrast and then some smoothing around the shadows).

    But media outlets actually do alter images to make a person look scary or stupid or innocent or smart. All the time. One example is noted above. Remember a particularly egregious example when Fox News altered the images of some reporters (or something like that) and the faces were all distorted to make them look evil? That one was widely discussed because it was so blatant and badly done, but it was nothing new.

    This blog post seemed to saying something to the effect of, “Can you believe this guy? He thinks that the media alters photos to push certain angles on stories! Come on, that’s ridiculous.”

    It’s ridiculous to believe that they don’t.

    Is that Reihl guy racist? I don’t know, maybe. That’s not the point. The point is that you’ve got to be blind to believe that the media never does these sorts of things with people’s images.

  19. harold says

    Why didn’t you answer my question? I’ll repeat it at the end of this comment.

    But media outlets actually do alter images to make a person look scary or stupid or innocent or smart. All the time.

    This is vague and over-generalized. However, having said that, of course media do sometimes use flattering or unflattering images (usually alteration is not required) that reflect biases.

    The question I asked you is, specifically which media outlet do you criticize for their treatment of the Trayvon Martin story, and what is it about their treatment of that story that you criticize?

    One example is noted above. Remember a particularly egregious example when Fox News altered the images of some reporters (or something like that) and the faces were all distorted to make them look evil? That one was widely discussed because it was so blatant and badly done, but it was nothing new.

    What about the Trayvon Martin story? Which media treatments do you criticize over their treatment of that, and why?

    This blog post seemed to saying something to the effect of, “Can you believe this guy? He thinks that the media alters photos to push certain angles on stories! Come on, that’s ridiculous.”

    No. You seem to have misunderstood the OP. There is no generalized claim about whether or not “the media” uses doctored photos.

    Even if it is true that “the media” sometimes alters photos to create bias, that does not mean that Riehl’s claim that this particular photo was altered in this particular way is accurate. And even if Riehl is right that somebody lightened Trayvon Martin’s skin tone, a claim I find absurd, that does not change the fact Riehl expresses clearly racist sentiments.

    The OP is not about “the media”, it is about what it is obviously about.

    Is that Reihl guy racist? I don’t know, maybe.

    You don’t know? He thinks that darker skinned black people look more “menacing” than lighter skinned black people. That’s not in dispute, he takes that for granted. What’s in dispute is his paranoid-sounding claim that others, on whom he projects his own belief that lighter skin tone is “less menacing”, altered photos of Trayvon Martin to make the skin tone lighter.

    Furthermore, it is obviously implied that if Trayvon Martin had a more “menacing” appearance, than killing him was more likely to be justified. Otherwise, why would a darker-looking image of Martin be more damaging to Zimmerman?

    That’s not the point.

    Actually, it is the point. Racists have tried to rationalize the lack of investigation and charges in the Trayvon Martin shooting with irrelevant bullshit. This is an example of this.

    The point is that you’ve got to be blind to believe that the media never does these sorts of things with people’s images.

    Now read this very carefully – neither Ed Brayton, nor I, nor any other commenter here, has in any way shape or form denied that the media sometimes uses biasing images. I don’t think that actual doctoring of images is common, but use of biasing images probably is.

    The issue here is that Riehl is making the claim that the media photo-shopped Trayvon Martin to make him look paler, on the grounds that everybody finds lighter-skinned people less menacing. That specific claim is being disputed on several levels. First of all, it seems unlikely, and second of all, whether it’s true or not, it’s racist (although perfectly legal) to consider dark skinned people “menacing”, and it’s illegal, or should be, to kill people because, although they were unarmed and not bothering you until you bothered them, you felt “menaced” by their appearance, whether dark skin, a wearing a hoodie, or anything else.

  20. Michael Hoaglin says

    Anybody who could possibly believe that the sharp, lighter picture was derived from the obviously blurrier, darker one (instead of the other way around) needs to have their eyes examined.

  21. dan4 says

    Off-topic, I know, but Libelous Loesch should have been fired from CNN for those tweets implying that Johnson is a child molester.

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