“The black boy was somewhere he shouldn’t have been”

“THE BLACK BOY WAS SOMEWHERE HE SHOULDN’T HAVE BEEN”….Mark Kleiman follows up today on the story of Billy Ray Johnson of Linden, Texas. Two years ago, a gang of good ole boys

drove the 42-year-old mentally retarded black man to a cow pasture where a crowd of white youths was having a party. They got Johnson drunk, they made him dance, they jeered at him with racial epithets.

Then, according to court testimony, one of Johnson’s assailants punched him in the face, knocking him out cold. They tossed his unconscious body into the back of a pickup and dumped him by the side of a dirt road, on top of a mound of stinging fire ants.

The town’s mayor says none of this was racially motivated. “The black boy was somewhere he shouldn’t have been,” he told the Chicago Tribune, “although they brought him out there.”

Conservatives complain relentlessly that the mainstream media is too focused on its coastal enclaves and doesn’t do enough to introduce its audience to heartland America. I agree. They really ought to pay more attention to this stuff.

Washington Monthly - Donate today and your gift will be doubled!

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation