Salon's coverage of the Central Park attacks

By Salon Staff

Published June 29, 2000 7:29PM (EDT)

Read Salon's coverage

Kudos to Salon for being the only media outlet I've seen that has addressed some of the more important questions that arose from the Puerto Rican Day Parade in Central Park. Do people other than whites sometimes get away with treating women badly in the name of cultural tolerance? I'm sure of it. Would there have been race riots if the police had taken strong action to stop the attacks? I think the answer is yes. Did the cops back off in part to show people that there is something to fear? It wouldn't surprise me. Are there any easy solutions to these problems? No. But we can't even get started unless media outlets address them openly and courageously.

-- Mick Shultz

I watched the videotapes of the Central Park attacks, and I saw the same things Kathy Dobie did. Some young men were attacking women, and others, in the same crowd, were protecting them. Both instincts seem ineradicably part of male nature.

As a former U.S. Army sergeant, I learned long ago that young men in packs can be dangerous when their blood is up. These are their most tribal years, when their greatest physical strength coincides with a societally-approved irresponsibility. But this is also the period when they can be most easily led, as can be verified by any NCO who ever ordered them to take a hill in the face of withering fire. They want duty; they want responsibility; they want to be appealed to through "the better angels of their natures."

Dobie's final question was right on. The impulses are at war in all of us, and particularly in our young man years. At any given moment, young men make choices, and at any given moment, a young man might choose either way.

-- David Kraut

Salon wants me to know that not all dark-skinned men are rapists -- despite the apparent evidence from the recent Central Park anarchy. Well, imagine my relief!

Wrong. The problem is not race, it is culture. Misogynist cultures, that is. Most of the males arrested come from misogynist cultures and hate women for the freedom they have achieved in the United States.

Congressional measures for the protection for women should end the ridiculous diversity lottery which brings 50,000 annually from cultures which approve of slavery, female genital mutilation, bride burning and many other atrocities. Immigration should be re-examined in this regard and the importation of misogynist cultures must end.

-- Brenda Walker

I am so glad that the term "wilding" has entered our glossary of multicultural behavior. I was glad to hear of it few years back, when that lady stockbroker was attacked in Central Park. It seemed that she had been gang-raped and beaten nearly to death, until I learned that it was only a "wilding," like in that children's book by Sendak. Unlike "gang rape" -- which is cowardly, vile and a crime -- wilding is merely an ethnic custom of black (and sometimes Puerto Rican) teenagers. You can tell that it's not a crime, because the New York police stand around and watch.

Ladies, if you don't want to be part of a wilding, you should buy a gun and adopt our ethnic Southern custom, "plinking."

-- Mark Virag

What this article points to is key to understanding human motivation -- a thing as varied and convoluted as an individual. The racial/socio-economic generalizations suggested by group behavior often mean very little. I've been in a situation like the one in Central Park with white males. I was one of the men handing over my shirt over and defending women. Why? Not because I am a moral person or a hero, but because my life's experiences led me to feel the way I did at a deep and unquestionable level.

-- Mark Tatara

I am a black woman who has lived in a racially mixed black and Hispanic neighborhood in Harlem for 15 years.

The real story is that white New Yorkers were subjected to the same hostility and indifference that too many members of the NYPD demonstrate to New York's communities of color.

Police behavior sanctioned and condoned in one community will sooner or later be meted out to others.

-- Margaret Walton

Jonathan Foreman left out one critical possibility in his theories about why the NYPD failed to respond to the recent attacks on women in Central Park -- fear that if they had responded, the incident would have been twisted into "Cops Turn Violent on Puerto Rican Revelers" and once again, the cops would be the bad guys.

In a time when the NYPD can't get a break and cops are second-guessed every time they do their jobs, why should we be surprised when they fail to respond to an incident that is ripe for charges of police brutality and racial discrimination? This, I think, is far more likely motivation for the lack of response than Foreman's charges of class resentment and "Let's show people why they need us." The police have been reduced to trying to protect their own butts from the media and special interest groups, and so public safety suffers.

-- Geri Clark

As I recall, there were similar incidents that occurred at the recent Woodstock festival -- incidents that resulted in convictions of white people of the same age as the Central Park attackers though, admittedly, of a different socioeconomic status. I wonder if the tactic of speaking out for a class of people other than oneself -- in this case black and Latina women -- entitles one to voice bigoted opinions. Is this something they teach people in journalism school? Or perhaps it just makes for "good copy."

-- Lewis Lock

I'm glad Foreman had the courage to broach the race/ethnicity element of the horrifying event that took place in Central Park several weeks ago. Though one may not agree with Foreman, the fact that he has raised such salient questions and concerns is one critical step towards having an honest dialogue about what happened that day and why it should not be allowed to happen again -- ever.

-- Leah Rosenberg

Salon Staff

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