10.18.2007

hate crime charges dropped in beating case

This is some crazy news out of Florida... Prosecutors plan to drop hate crime charges against several young men arrested in connection with an alleged beating of a black student at Florida International University during a late-night brawl last month: Hate-crime charges dropped in beating case. The victim told prosecutors he never felt the Asian American teenager who used a supposed racial slur targeted him because he is black. What? The teen, known as "Chino," apparently uttered the "n-word" more in the hip hop way than the Michael Richards way, making it difficult to prove it was a hate crime. It's kind of stunning, and stupid, but I can believe it:
The victim, freshman Stephen Barrett, 18, told prosecutors he never felt the teenager who used a supposed racial slur targeted him because he is black.

That Asian-American teen, whose name was not released, uttered the word "nigga" more as a hip-hop cultural slang than racial insult, prosecutors believe, making it difficult to prove it was a hate crime.

The drama began on Sept. 23 when Barrett and two pals were returning from a keg party on an island off Haulover Park Marina.

On the way back, the boat was too crowded and the operator told some people to get off.

The teenager, known as Chino, yelled out at Barrett "Nigga get off the boat, nigga" and swung at Barrett, who swung back, Barrett told prosecutors.

Words were exchanged. Someone yelled that they should fight one on one.

Barrett and his pals got off the boat and 15 minutes later, the teenagers were at the marina waiting. A series of brawls broke out, but authorities now say no one ever tried to drown Barrett.
Okay, this situation is weird already, with the crowded boat and stuff. But if the victim believes the altercation wasn't racially motivated, what actually happened here? I'm afraid this guy Chino has appropriated the "n-word" into his vernacular in a way that I'd never touch with ten-foot pole. Jesse Jackson's worst nightmare.