Culture

With No Evidence, Twitter Mob Convicts Bullying Victim of Being ‘Racist’

On Friday, eleven-year-old Keaton Jones’s mother posted a video of him recounting through tears the bullying he’s been enduring at his Tennessee middle school. Over the weekend, his video went viral, and he received thousands of messages of support from everyday Americans and celebrities on social media.

By Monday morning, however, Keaton was being bullied again. As it turns out, his mother had posted two photos of the family posing with a Confederate flag and criticized Colin Kaepernick’s protest in a separate post, leading to a rapid withdrawal of support for Keaton and claims that the family is racist. Then, after 24 hours of misinformation, erroneous reports, and knee-jerk judgments spread throughout social media, the mob concluded that Keaton probably deserved to be bullied. The reason?

On Wednesday, media outlets discovered Keaton’s estranged father, Shawn Aaron White, who seems to be an actual white supremacist — if tattoos reading “White Pride” and “Pure Breed” are any indicator. This discovery served only to strengthen the mob’s accusations that the Jones family as a whole is racist. Is this fair? No, it is not. Not only has White been estranged from the family for nearly ten years, due both to his own choices and to multiple stints in prison, but he also assaulted Keaton’s mother, according to arrest warrants, “wished death upon” a seven-month-old Keaton when the boy was suffering from severe illness. These would be peculiar circumstances in which to visit the sins of the father upon the son.

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