So, what is a racist then?

A couple of white teenagers got a long, long profile in the Washington Post, which is part of the problem. What did they do to deserve all this attention? They pulled a “prank”, charging into their high school the night before graduation, and spray-painting swastikas and racist slurs on the sidewalks and buildings.

They went on a real spree. There’s anti-semitic, racist, and homophobic crap diligently sprayed everywhere, along with an occasional penis. They worked hard to splatter toxic crap everywhere, all with the intent to shock the families that would be visiting for the graduation ceremony. They thought this would be funny, a good joke, something that would be getting them attention, anonymously, they expected.

Unfortunately for them, security cameras recorded the whole ugly game, and worse, their cell phones automatically connected to the campus network, so authorities had their full identity the next day. It was a stupid act sabotaged by their own foolish ignorance, and the four kids were arrested and tried. That’s where it gets really noxious.

They pleaded innocent of a hate crime and racism. Their parents were in total denial that their good little boy was a poisonous bigot.

His understanding of the KKK was limited, too, he said. “Some people think it’s just a word, or a symbol or three letters put together. . . . But they were lynching people, hurting people for no good reason.”

Now, he said, he knows. But he still doesn’t believe his actions that night make him a bigot.

“I spray paint one racist thing and, suddenly, I become a racist? Just because I did it doesn’t mean I hate Jews, gay people or black people.”

He was standing before the judge, pleading guilty to a hate crime, but he would not admit that he harbored any hate.

All around him, the adults agreed.

“He will forever be known as the racist kid at Glenelg, but that’s not who Seth is,” his father said in court that day.

“I told him that his act was racist, but don’t let it define him as a racist. He can and I pray that he will go on and do better,” Maxwell Ware, the African American pastor he met with, wrote in a letter supporting him.

“He is not a racist . . . he has a good heart,” his attorney told the judge.

It’s such a tired wheeze, there’s even a joke about it. Yes, you spray one racist thing, and you’re a racist. You’ve been a racist all along. It means you trivialize hatred of Jews, gay people, and black people. This is not a hard concept to grasp. These kids are still in denial.

They got a slap on the wrist. They’re “good kids”, don’t you know. Their mothers cried when they got handed weekends in jail and probation and community service.

Six weeks later, Seth backed his car out of his parents’ driveway, headed to his final weekend in jail.

Good behavior during his weekends locked up meant he had to serve only two-thirds of them.

The following weekend, Tyler Curtiss, who had painted two swastikas, would finish his weekends, five in all.

Matt Lipp, whose graffiti attacked Jewish, black and gay people, would serve 11 of the 16 he was sentenced to. He has filed an appeal, still arguing that his First Amendment rights had been violated.

Josh Shaffer, who targeted the principal, was sentenced to the most jail time: 18 weekends. He would serve 12.

All four will be eligible to get the hate crimes expunged from their record when their probation is finished.

Right. The first amendment gives everyone carte blanche to scrawl crude hatred on public property. If you’re white, being racist means you might have some weekends spoiled, but don’t worry, your history will be expunged from their record.

Except that now Seth Taylor, Tyler Curtiss, Joshua Shaffer and Matthew Lipp have their names prominently mentioned in a high-profile article in the Washington Post. Good luck getting that monkey off your back, boys!


  1. zenlike says

    Well, he is, accidentally, technically correct in one thing: he didn’t suddenly become a racist by spray pointing one racist thing. He was a racist all along. And sadly, because he has convinced himself, with the aid of his entire social circle, that he is not a racist, he will not have learned a goddamn thing, and continue to be a racist entitled little shit.

  2. wzrd1 says

    Actually, I’m fine with the punishment, assuming a rightful revocation of their diplomas, to never, ever be issued by the school district.
    Let them enjoy life without a high school diploma, either earn a GED the hard way or enjoy minimum wage life.
    And hopefully, some kind neighbor is ventilating their family homes, due to the unseasonable heat, using a pallet of bricks. Well, after helpfully adding flour to their vehicle’s fuel tanks, to extend the mileage.
    And occasionally, helpfully fixing their lawnmower blades, blunt dissection is more easily recovered from than simple incision. Grind them square.
    With some sand mix concrete added to their sewage vent pipes, to ahem, prevent leaks.
    If they don’t decide to relocate to hell, get extremely helpful. Make the vehicle tires square, then get serious in sending a message that they’re unwelcome on Earth, say, digging up the sidewalk, undermining the foundation and moving on from there.

  3. says

    I have problems with the sentencing. I don’t advocate more jail time — we do that too much — or harsher punishments, but there has to be some way to rehabilitate these kinds of ignoramuses. They’re going on still believing that they aren’t racist, so they’ve learned nothing.

  4. doubtthat says

    How many murders must one man commit, before you call him a murderer?
    How many swastikas can one child print, before his parents intervene?
    The answer, my friends, is posted on 4Chan,
    The answer is posted, my friends…

  5. Akira MacKenzie says

    I have to wonder just how much history, both American and World, is being taught in American schools anymore. Thirty-or-so-years-ago they my high school taught us about the horrors of WWII Nazism and American white supremacy, especially during the civil rights movement. Save for a couple of wannabe skinheads, I don’t think anyone in my class came away from their mandatory history classes not knowing who the KKK was and they they were the bad guys.

  6. says

    My friend’s son (in Germany) has drawn swastika on his hand with ball-pen as a “joke” when he was somewhere around twelve years old. His father did not try to excuse this as “boys will be boys”, but he shouted at him a bit, then he explained a lot about what the symbol means and then, to drive the point really, really into his son’s thick skull he took him to visit a concentration or extermination camp (I forgot which one, I think Auschwitz, but it might be one of the smaller and less known ones).

    The lad was an asshole and an ignoramus and one can only hope he has grown out of it – a few years after the swastika incident he wanted to help syrian refugees. His parents sure did not have it easy with him, but they never were seeking excuses for his shitty behavior.

  7. davidnangle says

    We need another job automated out of existence. We need robots to do the job of judges. Robots without skin color detectors or familial net-worth counters.

    Either that, or make judges judge cases without seeing the defendants, their families, or the potential related money flows affected by the sentencing. We’d see some judges sweat over decisions, wouldn’t we?

  8. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    There is a thing called inherent racism, which is something that get instilled by all the attitudes around one, that a developing mind instinctively instills and makes part of themselves. Their defense seems to think that racism is a seperate thing that one must actively install in oneself with feelings of hatred directly.
    The inherent form thinks they can use these symbols as simple symbols of rebellion, and use the school as the billboard so all their friends can see them as “tags” as a form of sardonic humor.
    When they get caught and called out about it, they stammer “no harm intended, just a joke, ha ha” with head bowed sheepishly. Expecting a little tsk tsk tsk, don;t do that anymore.
    That only works on toddlers during their initial acquisition of the racism permeating their environment. Repeated reinforcement that it is not to be acquired is neccesary to prevent the acquisition.
    Yes, there comes instances that pranks like these need to be slapped severely, to make the point that these pranks are a serious symptom of a serious disease infecting the everyone.
    okay… time to stop preaching. thank you for reading

  9. stroppy says


    Education is undermined by school systems that teach revisionist history of the civil war and that try to sneak religious ignorance into science. There’s also a failure generally when it comes to teaching civics. It seems to me that anybody with a decent grasp of the hows, and especially the whys, of democracy would be alarmed as hell by what’s going on with the “alt-right.”

    Of course it’s also a testament to the laziness endorsed by platitude television and to the effectiveness of modern propaganda and spin purposely aimed to destroy people’s ability to see clearly.

    Sotomayor and civics:

  10. johnson catman says

    I hope that those “good boys” were at least made to clean their handiwork from every surface that they put it on.

  11. stroppy says

    Yeah, vandalizing school property — boys will be boys apparently.

    Regarding shock behavior — ‘s all good ’cause rock ‘n roll ‘n stuff.

    Hell. if they wanted to be shocking they could have painted “Trump supporters are dribbling as holes” or “Nazi scum go fuck yourselves in the head with white hot rebar” etc. /sarc

  12. unclefrogy says

    as slithey @8 says there are kinds of racism. I have run into the distinction before myself in person. some people do not recognize their own or others racism because it is not like the klan or nazis. They think that their own perceptions of others is not based almost entirely on irrational bs and stereo types that are the very roots of racism and have little basis in fact . They do not see that their judgments of others is prejudged by those ideas of what “those people are like”.
    It is extremely difficult to eliminate ideas you acquire from all around you as you as a child they become an almost automatic reaction.
    yes those kids are racist in action and rather stupid and by demonstration rather self absorbed.
    Beavis and Butt-Head?
    uncle frogy

  13. drew says

    “But they were lynching people, hurting people for no good reason.”
    Yeah, we’re not violent bigots. We only believe in justified, reasonable lynchings.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    The teens’ parents had rented them a house in Ocean City, the annual destination for thousands of local students celebrating graduation, and were divvying up tasks: who would drive the group to the beach, who would stock their fridge, who would cook them dinners before leaving them for a week of beer pong, sunburns and meetups with houses full of girls.

    Spoiled, entitled little shits for whom life is a consequence-free lark. What could go wrong?

  15. doubtthat says

    “I’m so dumb I don’t know what the KKK is, but somehow I chose those exacts words, symbols, and phrases for my provocative vandalism. Please don’t ask me how I knew to choose those specific things to spray paint.”

  16. PaulBC says

    The teens’ parents had rented them a house in Ocean City, the annual destination for thousands of local students celebrating graduation, and were divvying up tasks: who would drive the group to the beach, who would stock their fridge, who would cook them dinners before leaving them for a week of beer pong, sunburns and meetups with houses full of girls.

    Future Supreme Court justices I see.

  17. Hoosier X says

    In today’s political environment, racism pretty much doesn’t exist unless a liberal or a Democrat notices that a black conservative said something deeply stupid. Like when Ben Carson is discussing the duties of the department he leads.

  18. karmacat says

    I bet their fellow students have a different take on who they really are. I suggest the parents should be punished by doing community service along with their children.

  19. cyrus says

    Honestly, they’re teenagers, they can change. They got their punishment, they probably thought they were being edgy, but i’m starting to think kids like that are being groomed by adults online, who really should know a lot better, and no-one is looking at alt right adult edgelords going on sites full of teenagers and egging them on.

  20. cyrus says

    I’m not trying to excuse it, but people can be brought or influenced by toxic environments, not knowing any better

  21. says

    And now they’re going back to that exact same environment, with an added pat on the back affirming that what they did was totally not racist. Chances are, they’ll be the opposition that the next generation has to fight.

  22. cyrus says

    I think thats a bit much, they were charged with pretty much racism, yeah they got off lightly, yeah, there will be some scumbags patting them on the back but saying they got away with it is just naive.

  23. KG says


    no-one is looking at alt right adult edgelords going on sites full of teenagers and egging them on. –

    Just because you’re not, and know next to nothing about the topic, doesn’t mean no-one is. For example, the Southern Poverty Law Center in the USA, and Hope not Hate in the UK are continually researching and reporting on such people.

    I’m not trying to excuse it, but people can be brought or influenced by toxic environments, not knowing any better

    That’s an excuse for it. Of course they fucking well knew this was a vile, hateful, thing to do. That’s why they did it. How does it even make any sense to say they “didn’t know any better”? If they didn’t know what those words and symbols meant, why would they have used them? How would they have known to use them?

  24. Saad says

    Guys, they didn’t know the swastika and the racial slur are bad things. It’s just a coincidence they chose those. On another day, they could have used the Nike logo and a peace sign.

  25. berenika says

    “Their parents were in total denial that their good little boy was a poisonous bigot” – Adore when such parents find out that their children are spoiled and dangerous for healthy society. Teenagers do not know the measures, do not know the manners and good breeding. People themselves create monsters. And then they wonder why their children become rapists or murderers. An excess of permissiveness and a lack of the love that parents should give. All roots of evil are in them.