The latest dispatches from Slate and The Daily Beast have dismissed the “knockout game,” longtime outrage fodder for Fox News and recent topic of panicked discussion between your suburban relatives, as hype. The reported incidents in St. Louis, New York, and other cities have been significantly over-reported or were misunderstood, they say, and only serve as a means for any bigoted element in the country to continue narrowing their views. Posing as gotcha media watchdogs, publications like The Daily Beast and Slate cavalierly dismiss real violent events on the basis that even bigger media like FOX News are trying to make a pattern where there is none. Everyone who’s ever watched the news knows that the media is prone to making faulty connections and jumping to sensational conclusions–so when some writer on the Internet says it’s not a real thing, this savage game of Knockout being played by urban teens, the better angels of our nature are happy to believe it. But just because the TV news sometimes exaggerates doesn’t mean it always does. Yes, sometimes FOX and CBS news will fan a twig fire, when there is nothing really there. But those writers who claim that Knockout is a figment of the media’s imagination might think differently if they were ever knocked out waiting for a train. Like I was.
On September 25th, 2008, while waiting for a train, I was racially profiled and attacked from behind by three black teenaged boys. Before I could turn to look at my blindspot, one of them sucker-punched me, sending my head into the cement subway platform and knocking me out cold for ten minutes. When I was revived by the police, my iPod was gone and I was on the way to the hospital. The detectives assigned to my case told me that I had been selected to be punched at random as a form of gang initiation and that several similar crimes had been committed recently. The perpetrators were never caught. As a culture, we rightfully shame those who question or dismiss victims of violent crime, of abuse, of rape. Now I’m being told that the event that put me into the hospital and into years of therapy did not happen. Maybe next, Slate will write an article intimating that people like me were asking for it by dressing a certain way or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn’t enough to get knocked out in 2008. Legitimate victims of the knockout game now have to put up with technical knockouts from the media.
—Mike Drummey is an actor and writer living in New York City