Unlike Trayvon Martin, pictures of a 12-year-old Michael Brown haven’t been used to portray him as a gentle little cherub. Instead the media has cast him as the “gentle giant.” And they’re at least partially right, say critics. Brown certainly was a giant, as surveillance footage seems to prove, showing his 6’4”, nearly 300-pound self towering over a petrified convenience-store employee, who got manhandled and intimidated for having the temerity to object to his store being robbed.
This characterization lies in stark contrast to the picture painted by Brown’s family, friends, and that sympathetic media. Brown’s uncle, Charles Ewing, who related the gentle-giant moniker, said that the family tried to get the young man to play football, but he “was too timid for the sport,” reported the Washington Post. “‘He had never gotten into a fight in his entire life,’ said Duane Finnie, a family friend. At school, he was that kid who was full of jokes and trying to make others laugh,” continued the paper. In fact, the Post article opened by stating that Brown had just won a “hard-fought victory,” having recently graduated from high school, a note accompanied by a graduation photo of a gown-bedecked Brown.
Now, critics might say that education — even if it is something more impressive than that acquired at Brown’s Normandy High, which had already lost its state accreditation — doesn’t definitively denote goodness. Neither does accomplishment. But isn’t it to be expected that Brown’s defenders will relate facts about the young man’s history in order to establish his character? For sure. It’s also to be expected, however, that his whole history will then be fair game, say critics.
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