Is the News Media Over-Hyping "The Knockout Game?"

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"The Knockout Game" is a phenomenon where teens assault strangers by trying to knock them out with one punch. Is this a new trend? Is the media making it worse? Jeffrey Butts, director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice at CUNY assesses the patterns behind this story and how it's being addressed by the media.

What We Learned 

  • It's All About the Video Jeffrey Butts says while this is not a new phenomenon, it's getting attention now because there are videos.
  • Are These Hate Crimes? Butts says this is way too early to be attributing this to hate crime. Victims are wide-ranging. 
  • For Teens, This May Not Seem Like a Big Deal Butts suggested that for teens, if violence is a normal thing in your life, punching someone may seem like a minor infraction, and that the media attention is partly responsible for spreading this meme. 
  • Does Race Matter? Several listeners called in to suggest that these crimes seem to racially motivated and mainly a black on white thing. Butts says, "In any kind of criminal behavior, people tend to focus on the race and ethnicity of both the victim and the perpetrator. I think it's just inappropriate to draw inferences from a few cases or even from a dominant pattern because that encourages you to think about this as a racial behavior. I think it's more about the age of the perpetrators; it's probably more about social class."
  • This Isn't A New Thing Butts says that in a search of the Washington Post archives, there was a mention of "The Knockout Game" in 1895.
  • Let's Stop Calling it a Game "If these things were called 'random attacks' or 'sudden assaults' or something other than the word 'game' it may communicate a different message," says Butts.


Jeffrey Butts

Comments [112]

John from America

Speaking as a black man I will say It's not a black vs. white's an idiot vs. unsuspecting innocent victim thing. I saw on the news a white man pulls a gun after a black teen tried to taser him...I applaud that white man...that teen and every other idiot needs to see there are real consequences to this stupid game!

Dec. 26 2013 10:07 PM
David Stein from Brooklyn


Thank you for the segment, it needs to be addressed but your guest Mr. Butts was the wrong person to be interviewing. You did your best but he was would not commit. This is Black on Jew and an assault.
Could you have another segment on this. Your show is the highlight of my day.

Thank you
David Stein

Dec. 03 2013 03:54 PM
Brandon from Charleston, wv

Gubber, you sure are dumb. White people aren't weaker or wimpier than black people are. Black people attack 80 year olds and women, they don't attack real white men. Maybe you should restate your case I am 5-0 in fights against blacks it sounds like you have some racial bias in you. If anything it's because whites are simply more civilized. Whites have controlled blacks throughout all of history.... Lol

Nov. 30 2013 05:13 AM
Hagger from Rutherford, NJ

A lot of them look sort of dressed in a Hip Hop type style, whether they're black, hispanic or whatever. I think that's sort of being underestimated on some a bit. I'm white and I think that even if I saw a bunch of white kids acting kind of nutty and goofy dressed to that effect that I think I would worried. I think we might want to take it a little easier with the black and against white thing though - What about the poor guy from Ecuador, the oriental person, etc...

Nov. 26 2013 03:21 PM

Well, we found out who committed these acts:

"Four Arrested For Possible 'Knockout' Attack On Brooklyn Jewish Man"

"Despite fleeing the scene, the suspects, who range in age from 28 to 38, were caught quickly by cops. The four—three Hispanic men and one Indian male—are facing assault charges, but those may be upgraded, CBS reports."

So you guys gonna blame "the Blacks" for this one?

Nov. 26 2013 12:01 AM
wyte mahn from NY

And when a white guy shoots one of them, It will be the standard cry of racism. Ghetto crap, no class, unemployable fools.

Nov. 25 2013 10:45 PM

I also thought of the very dumb and unfunny Samberg video made on SNL.

And I was really annoyed at this guest from John Jay for playing to role of the over the top lefty who could not bring himself to use race as a motovating factor and insread spun it as a class issue.

Nov. 25 2013 12:36 AM
Tino is 99% of the problem. That site is putrid and it's fans are a disease to the nation. There is no "Knock Out Game", it's not a game. It's just random violence by mentally challenged individuals who grew up sad and angry with no fathers and no hope. They get sideways satisfaction by dragging others into their pain. Those are the facts. I am not racist, but I look at this issue with honesty.

The media hype is definitely making it worse. It makes one wonder if the media has some hidden agenda towards increasing racial tension.

Nov. 24 2013 03:24 PM

Give BLACKS everything they want and you END UP with a

CITY or TOWN near you!


"Does anyone remember how NANCY GRACE CRIED everyday
over the DEATH of TRAYVON MARTIN, and PRESIDENT OBAMA did a several NEWS
CONFERENCES about the TRIAL and ERIC HOLDER is still trying to find ways to

WOW, everybody seemed to give a SHYT when the VICTIM BLACK
and the PERP turned out to be only HALF WHITE!

TRAYVON MARTIN was just the 1st "KNOCK OUT
WHITEYER" to get CAPPED; sadly, many more will follow in his DEADLY






Nov. 24 2013 02:41 PM
Ian Pepper

Its about "social class"??

ALL THE PERPS ARE BLACK, and ALL OF THE VICTIMS ARE NON-BLACK - in hundreds of well-documented attacks across the US.

Thomas Sowell, a leading BLACK writer:

”Reading Colin Flaherty’s book made painfully clear to me that the magnitude of this problem is greater than I had discovered from my own research. He documents both the race riots and the media and political evasions in dozens of cities.”

Nov. 23 2013 06:30 PM
V. Smith from Queens County

They can call it a knockout game, and the news can call it a knockout game, but it's a crime, plain and simple.

I also wonder if this guy has researched how the crimes caught on video break down racially. You know, since he works for the Research Center.

I feel like this segment treated this crime a bit lightly, like it's just what some teenagers do, like it's a meme equal to making a funny animated gif.

Nov. 23 2013 10:12 AM
alex rondo from Brooklyn

Why is it always popular to blame the media for "over-hyping" information? Ask the victims of these crimes if they think the media is over-hyping these random acts of foolish violence. Hopefully, they will still be around to answer.

If anything, these idiots overhype this nonsense themselves by posting videos of their cowardly behavior online as if it is something to be glorified or admired.

These attacks only act to terrorize the community by creating the understandable psychological effect of paranoia that anybody can become a victim at any moment for no reason other than the shits and giggles of the teenage "victims of social class." Folks are going to start arming themselves for protections while "research" continues to determine how this is all actually the media's fault.

Nov. 23 2013 09:31 AM

The indication here is that this has become a big deal in the media because of the recent videos, not because there has been a recent trend in targeting Jews. But here's a knock-out game video from 2009:
Why didn't the media get on this earlier?

Nov. 23 2013 08:26 AM
stanchaz from Brooklyn

You know who’s REALLY throwing the
“sucker-punches” here in NYC?
It’s the conservative media such as Fox Faux News, and the New York Post (which claims to be a newspaper).
And do you know who the “sucker” is?
The target, the victim, the patsy?
Unfortunately, it’s you.
‘Cause some people would like nothing more than to instigate and inflame racial and ethnic tension and fear in this city, and scapegoat young people of color ---for their own ends.
Because they are soooo afraid that incoming Mayor DeBlasio will actually try to treat ALL New Yorkers with fairness, with justice, and with equality.
A refreshing change ....from 20 long years of
Mayor Rudolph Forty-One Shots Guiliani,
and Mayor Stop&Frisk Bloombucks,
and his One Percent Wall Street friends.
Don’t let the scum media use you, or confuse you.
Don’t fall for their irresponsible media wilding.

Nov. 23 2013 05:29 AM
Lesley Heller from NYC

Racism is racism. Also, I don't seem to recall the last knockout "game" fad in 1895. Gosh,could I have forgotten so quickly?

Nov. 23 2013 01:17 AM
Roy Tuck from NJ

Very disturbing. "A Clockwork Orange".

Nov. 22 2013 02:01 PM
Dave K from Manhattan

Both the title of this article as well as the 'dialogue' position this sick predatorial crime as little more than a video game. Your coverage is pathetic. Exhuberant? We have an 'anti snitching culture' ? Grow UP! Show some cajones instead of pandering to the weakest common denominator that has turned most people in New York City into mindless , deliberately ignorant pedestrian cattle, who will look the other way first last and always.
"Is the media making too much of it'?
Are you kidding? You pose of naivety is outrageous. Television news is nothing but Filth and Fear mongering so go plead your tepid POV to ABC, NBC, CBS and the prostitutes who relentlessly report Garbage.
I would hope that if anything, showing the images on the news move onlookers to ACT.
Say a woman can toss her purse to pedestrian colleague, and he might manage to wrap the strap around the perps neck, another pesedtrian can help drag the perp to ground and there, they can step on the strap, either choking said perp to death, or hold his gasping for breath until police arrive and screw it all up.
Sound like a game now?

Nov. 22 2013 12:46 PM
GMeister from Woodside

Are there any incidents where white gangs play the knockout game on a random black victim? The mainstream media would definitely say this was a hate crime. DOUBLE STANDARD!

Nov. 22 2013 11:58 AM
ACC from New Jersey

These violent attacks are performed by people who have no regard for their fellow human beings. Police need to pursue charges against these criminals and people need to stop saying "kids will be kids" We know where the "boys will be boys" excuses have gotten us as a society.

My stepson was attacked in Jersey City - never saw it coming, didn't see the perpetrators even after the attack - and sustained injuries requiring hundreds of dollars in medical care.

Where are the adults? If there is evidence on facebook, where are the authorities?

And no more nonsense about it only getting notice when it impacts white communities. It is a failing of our criminal justice system and the neighborhoods where these criminals live that they can continue to prey on more victims. You sound like the people who say we shouldn't discuss gun violence after Sandy Hook. You're wrong. When criminal behavior gets attention and perhaps gets addressed, it benefits all.

The whole tone of your piece made me furious because it was so light. There are real victims who are paying the price for this violence. Why do you call it a game? Over-hyping violent crime? Is that possible?

Nov. 22 2013 11:46 AM
Chris Zizzo from Northport, Long Island

There can never be an "honest conversation about race" because there is no way to express a personal opinion, no matter how well reasoned as long as there exists an established dogma of political correctness.

An interesting parallel might be found in various professions (medicine for instance) where an established order pooh-poohs newer research or hypotheses in order to defend the dogma in which the established practitioners have so deeply invested.

Before we can have a discussion about racial differences, we need to understand why we hold to the notion that everyone is exactly the same while we continue to tout the "celebration of our diversity". We seem to be suffering from a schizophrenic episode in our history.

Nov. 22 2013 10:11 AM

Re “What We Learned”, I’d say the most important points seem to have been deliberately excluded from your summary, namely that Mr Butts is not just intentionally dishonest but an enabling apologist for the rot in contemporary black culture that has been causing enormous harm both inside and outside that community and that Mr Lehrer shirked his responsibility to bring out the truth of the matter regarding either these knockout attacks or the larger cultural milieu.

The extent to which Mr Lehrer enabled Mr Butts to make obviously false and misleading statements is shown by, for example, allowing him to claim at some points that the ‘knockout gangs’ chose their victims “at random” but at other points to claim that the gangs chose victims ‘who do not resemble people they know’. (My citations may not be exact, remembering from yesterday, but I’m sure the gist is accurate.)

I suppose, Mr Lehrer, that you were bending over backwards in order not to appear biased given that he is identified as a white Jew, but shouldn’t you focus less on how he appears and more on pursuing the truth? (Or were you playing a deeper game, recognizing how obviously false Mr Butts’s statements were and just giving this guest enough rope to hang himself?)

Re black on white knockout punches, why was there no mention of the punching murder in Union Square a few months back, where the black assailant stated explicitly that he was just looking for a white person to punch?

Nov. 22 2013 09:20 AM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

I'd like to concur with Stan Chaz. Just as "Nixon went to China", I had hoped that Obama would be the man to finally address black dysfunction: bastardy, criminality, drugs, low expectations, etc. Of course, equally capable black men such as Bill Cosby have gotten no end of grief ("Uncle Tom") for attempting to do just that over the past generation. Perhaps, Obama's fragile identity as a black man which positively drips from his autobiography, kept him from taking this crucial step. Either way, he clearly has not done so, and black dysfunction continues unabated and has, per impossible, even gotten worse in the Obama era. And the chasm between the races has widened and the hope for a post-racial America has never seemed quite so implausible. These are not the Hope & Change we were looking for. Let me know, Eric Holder, when we finally get to have that "honest conversation about race."

Nov. 22 2013 09:08 AM
Roy from Queens

Nick B. Steves from Jersey:

"Nice trick, Roy. Yeah, that some great moral equivalency ya got there: a) Bigoted crackpots posting stuff; or b) "youths" (who happen to be black) committing senseless acts of grotesque violence against random, almost always defenseless strangers (who happen to be not black)?

A toughy I know.

Yeah, I can see how it is difficult to measure which one is the more morbid social pathology."

Boy, are you asinine. I think you're no help to the problem which is bad enough.

Nov. 22 2013 08:21 AM
stan chaz from Brooklyn

With the advent of the first black President, in some aspects we actually seem to have gone backwards in race relations- in terms the espousal of some sort of grand, imagined black on white racial conspiracy.
When reading the blogs or listening to hate talk radio or TV -both of which I try to avoid - one finds that the worst floats to the top. And as with all cultures from time immemorial, we seek and find scapegoats for what are essentially problems within our society and ourselves - problems that we ourselves have created and fostered in our society, and within ourselves.
What on earth do we expect when and where people are often seen as, and treated as, disposable ....from the homeless, to the young, to the old, to the workers, to the soldiers, to the poor? ...the list is long and shameful.
We are more of a stratified collection of opposing players, rather than a truly compassionate and caring community.
Callous?, brutal? violent?, indifferent?, racist?
Physician, look in the mirror, and heal thyself.

Nov. 22 2013 08:21 AM
Johnny Justice from New York City

Groups of black teens are indeed intentionally choosing to assault and punch out white people, now singling out older Jews. I wish WNYC would stick to the raw facts, and not "ethnically cleanse" the Inconvenient Truth. Its anti-white bias is consistent and insulting. This is why I never contribute.

Nov. 22 2013 07:37 AM
Oooh yea


Are you related to the Gubblersteins of Kentucky?

Elizabethtown, KY -- the town where the authorities recently told the KKK they couldn't where hoods in their marches -- so they just took them off and marched anyway!

Nov. 21 2013 10:56 PM

A true WNYC Classic!

And Professor Butz wins the award for "The Highest number of words used to say Black Male without saying saying Black Male award" -of the Month...

(Note to SNL producers preparing the next "Weekend Update" segment, if they still have that -- name your talking head "Professor Butts.")

Nor can I argue with the goodly professor's intriguing "Kids will be kids" argument. (Perhaps tomorrow, Brian do a follow up segment on the parallel presumed "game" of Jewish kids punching black kids in the face?)

However, if my mouth was not full of popcorn and I wasn't laughing, I could argue.

Nov. 21 2013 10:39 PM
Gubbler Chechenova from Elizabethtown, KY

Jews want to suppress the racial angle of these attacks because such incidents make whites out to be biological victims of stronger blacks. Jews fear the possible unity and rise of the white majority. Thus, Jews wanna control the white masses by morally browbeating them with notions of 'white guilt'. So, the problems of the black community must all be blamed on the 'legacy of slavery'. But if white people realize that black problems and violence are really the result of blacks being naturally stronger than whites, then whites will feel less guilty and they will feel more justified in standing up for their own interests and safety. In time, a united white majority might even challenge Jewish elite power. This is what Jews fear most. This is why Jews who own and control most of the media wanna downplay the problem of black on white violence. It's all predicated on the notion of 'what is good for the Jews?' Jews see whites as a hibernating polar bear. They want it to keep sleeping for they fear the waking giant.

Nov. 21 2013 08:29 PM
FBastiat from NJ

I like to know the statistics comparing areas that allow legal concealed guns to areas that have strict gun control laws. Common sense tells me that there are fewer instances in gun toting areas due to fear of being shot as I read one victim did as he was being attacked!

Nov. 21 2013 07:51 PM
vanderleun from Seattle

One can only hope that Jeffrey Butts and Brian are very soon attacked and put into the hospital by these animals. Then we can wait for their explanation.

Nov. 21 2013 07:50 PM
gubbler chechenova from Elizabethtown, Ky

Why do things like this happen? Why are virtually all attackers black while the victims are mostly non-black?

It's because blacks are naturally stronger than other races, and they know it. So, blacks feel contempt for non-blacks. So, blacks feel confident in knocking such people out since non-blacks are afraid.
But the myth of racial equality makes us pretend that blacks have no physical advantage over other races. But the new book by David Epstein should enlighten you.

Another reason for this phenomenon is the culture of rap music that celebrates this kind of behavior. Furthermore, rich Jewish liberals in the music industry rake in billions by peddling such stuff.

Another factor is blacks are raised to believe they are perfect angels and total victims. The 'legacy of slavery' argument has blacks believing that they can never do wrong. Also, whites are afraid to call out on foul black behavior since they might be accused of 'racism'. (In the current politically correct climate, even criticizing Obama's policies gets you labeled as a 'racist'.)
So, blacks grow up doing as they please and never feeling any remorse since everyone is afraid to call them out on it.

It's not so much the 'legacy of slavery' but fact of biology that is behind this phenomenon. Lot of black Africans have arrived in Europe as free immigrants in recent years, but guess what? Many of them act the same way. They too know that they are stronger and more muscular than white folks, and so, black bullies in both Europe and America go around pushing whites around.
The 'legacy of slavery' argument doesn't work. Suppose US had brought geeky Chinese instead of muscular blacks as slaves. Would geeky Chinese youths go around randomly hitting people? I don't think so. Blacks go around acting like this BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY ARE TOUGHER AND LOOK DOWN ON WHITE FOLKS AS WEAK AND WUSSY. Also, the liberal media and public education, by promoting the 'legacy of slavery' narrative to the hilt, have filled blacks with seething rage at non-blacks.

A lot of Liberals can overlook this problem since they are affluent and live in the nice areas well-protected by the police. But poorer whites who live in integrated neighborhoods face the dangers of black aggression everyday. Indeed, in rapes, robberies, assaults, and murder, the racial violence is overwhelmingly black on white. And it's not an economic issue of poor attacking the rich as most of the violence is poor black on poor white. While rich white liberals can afford to settle in safe areas, many poor whites do not have the same option. Thus, they end up living in close proximity to dangerous blacks. Such poor whites routinely get robbed, raped, and attacked by blacks. If the problem is purely economic, poor whites would be robbing and raping blacks. But that happens very rarely. Even white thugs are afraid of black thugs, but black thugs look down on whites as 'slow white boys' and say stuff like 'white girls bleed a lot.'

Nov. 21 2013 07:18 PM
Gubbler Chechenova from elizabethtown, Ky

We should do a test. Have a bunch of Irish-American thugs roam around and bunch out old Jewish ladies and Jewish boys.

Let's see if Butts still says, "gee, not sure if ethnicity or race has anything to do with it".

Or better yet, have 'white trash' youths 'randomly' knock out old black ladies. I wonder what Butts would say. Gee, not sure if the attacks were racially motivated. Hmmmm.

Meanwhile, we need more youth programs. It's our fault for not providing enough basketballs for misguided 'teens' who seem to be mistaking white skulls for balls. They are just nice kids who are looking for some fun.. by knocking you or your mother unconscious.

So, why don't all the youths who are reading this story just go out and punch someone in the spirit of fun?
And if you punch out Butts, don't worry. He won't contact the police or get angry. He's such a nice guy. He'll understand. (Of course, he's affluent and lives in the kind of place where 'teens' generally don't roam around.)

Nov. 21 2013 06:56 PM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

Currently ~2400 comments on that worldnet story ( BTW. Currently 78 here. So it comes down to this, Mr. Lehrer, WNYC, NPR, let's hear the answer: Are you, the mainstream, the urbane, sophisticated nuanced media going to tell the truth here? Or are you going to let racist cr**ckers tell it?

Nov. 21 2013 06:08 PM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

Mark hopes (as do we all):
"If it's not "racial" then it won't be "racial" when one of those kids ends up like Trayvon Martin, right?"

For sure, Mark. Actually, it already has happened:

Attendant with the mothers pleading that their lovely cherubs were just having some harmless, if misguided, fun.

Nov. 21 2013 06:00 PM

If it's not "racial" then it won't be "racial" when one of those kids ends up like Trayvon Martin, right?

Nov. 21 2013 05:39 PM
Lewis from Rockland County

I heard this on the radio this A.M. Brian's liberal guest sounded as if he'd choke if he had to say that criminal activity was a 'black thing'. He could not seem to admit that the bulk of perpetrators are black, yet if the situation were reversed no doubt we'd be talking about white racist behavior(and rightly so) and overt anti-semitic behavior. Instead he tried to excuse these perpetrators as picking people out because they represent some sort of "other". Well, picking on the 'other' is racist/racial profiling at the least, even if this self deluded guest tries to make it seem otherwise. I have no doubt that these stupid actions don't reflect the majority but we need to recognize what it is and call these people out on it. I hope that this behavior is roundly condemned by politicians,clergy and other responsible leaders. Or maybe Arne Duncan can call upon the schools to fix this problem on top of all the other mandates the feds have placed on the schools. Surely, the schools can fix another problem that couldn't possibly have been enabled by dysfunctional parents.
Great show today Brian. A new record--two knucklehead guests in less then an hour. Neither of these guests have a grasp on reality.

Nov. 21 2013 05:14 PM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

"If these things were called 'random attacks' or 'sudden assaults' or something other than the word 'game' it may communicate a different message," says Butts.

There's always "Polar Bear Hunting".

Nov. 21 2013 04:50 PM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

hjs11211 suggests:
"But how about offering teens after school jobs instead of ignoring them, hoping they will behave."

I think your suggestion ignores a) the unlikelihood that youths of this caliber would be employable under any known free-world circumstances; and b) the immense credibility they get from this in their own (highly dysfunctional) communities. You may as well ask a drug dealer to give up his $500/day proceeds to work at McDs. Surely a small percentage might take the deal, but the rest? You are in a serious dreamland.

The solution to this "game" is serious, widespread, and occasionally lethal self-defense, such that even very stupid would-be perpetrators will think twice.

Nov. 21 2013 03:02 PM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

The Truth from Becky writes:

"It's not about race just because the racial assassins in here say so."

Not sure who "racial assassins" are, but YouTube is free, Becky. Look it up. Find all those videos where it's young white males cold-cocking blacks, hispanics, and Asians for no reason as part of some sick, subhuman game. Work out the percentages for us and come up with a tidy theory that explains it.

I *WANT* to believe you. But I am also constrained by what my lying eyes tell me.

In the meantime, sadly, given the data we *actually* have, it appears to be VERY MUCH about race: Exclusively (until shown otherwise) black (and young and male) perpetrators attacking exclusively (until shown otherwise) non-black (young/old male/female) victims.

It is surely true that 99% of blacks wouldn't play Knockout Game, but that doesn't mean 99% of those who DO play it aren't black. I wish it were otherwise. In fact, I WISH this "game" didn't exist at all, and give so much undeserved credence to racist cr**kers.

Nov. 21 2013 02:53 PM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

Roy from Queens writes:
"I don't know what's more vile: the crime or that it makes bigoted crackpots post inane things here. Some great society, we got here."

Nice trick, Roy. Yeah, that some great moral equivalency ya got there: a) Bigoted crackpots posting stuff; or b) "youths" (who happen to be black) committing senseless acts of grotesque violence against random, almost always defenseless strangers (who happen to be not black)?

A toughy I know.

Yeah, I can see how it is difficult to measure which one is the more morbid social pathology.

Nov. 21 2013 02:39 PM

This has been going on for years. I just find it very interesting that this got attention when the victims of this crime were Jewish.

Nov. 21 2013 01:56 PM
Joel Hubbard from Smithtown, New York

"Knockout Game Attacks" Deadly Criminal Bullsh*t! Using their logic of game theory, I guess Stand-your-ground laws will become Olympic events? Along with Public/private crazies with their legal semi-automatic weapons committing random acts of violence or mass murders!

Nov. 21 2013 01:55 PM
Roy from Queens

I don't know what's more vile: the crime or that it makes bigoted crackpots post inane things here. Some great society, we got here.

Nov. 21 2013 01:33 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@ DTorres:

Years ago, in NJ, when as part of a Central American gang initiation, a young man who happened to be Hispanic, callously killed a group of teenagers who happened to be black, I can't remember that happening. There goes your theory.

Nov. 21 2013 01:14 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ The Truthiness from Becky

I wrote "address within the black community" NOT "address (by?) the black community". You really are a simple soul, aren't you? Trust me Truthy, if you can't even understand a simple sentence you're way, way out of your league. Go back to shouting!!!! It WORKS!!! TO GET!!!!!!!!!!! ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nov. 21 2013 01:08 PM
The Truth from Becky

LOL @ "address the black community" as if everyone in the community is related and by association responsible or have influence over the teens involved. That in itself is a racist statement and the depth of which you people can't seem to grasp!

Nov. 21 2013 01:02 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

@ James

Yeah, the point has been beaten into submission. Any person of any race can be violent. Again, missing the point. You wouldn't go to a black church in the south during the 60's if you were looking for the perps of a KKK led lynch mob, would you? Why? Because not many church going black folks were Klan members or participated in the lynching of other blacks.

The point IS that black kids are doing this so we need to address the issue within the black community, not pretend like its some sort mass movement taking place all over the country across the entire spectrum of humanity. Take off the PC blinders.

Nov. 21 2013 12:56 PM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

@mg - all fair points but you are guilty of conflating a series of facts, stats into a yet unproven theory - so is the nature of violent crime in the US.

Mr. Butts didn't do himself any favors by not giving a more assertive answer but he never denied that most of the perpetrators were black. He simply refused to draw himself into the reactionary theory that these thugs did it BECAUSE they were black.

First you say: "If the identity of the victims and attackers were a function only of comparative racial numbers of the neighborhood, then wouldn’t most of the attackers also be Hasidic?"

Then you say:

"Can Mr Butts cite even one instance of a group of Hasidic youth punching an elderly black man?"

Well, if you listened to Mr Butts' theory, rightly or wrongly, that teenage thugs are more likely to attack "others" - then, why would Hasidic teens attack other Hasids?

To your second point about Hasidic youth and "elderly blacks" - last time I checked, Hasidic youth are, for the most part, not raised in broken homes, in social circles where hyper-violence is ubiquitous and even fetishized, so why would hasidic or well raised kids of ANY race randomly go around punching people?

As I've said before, this sick "game" has been going on for years but like most violent crime in the US, it was practically ignored when the victims were mostly black.

We all know that as Americans, we are trained to see violent crime through the lens of race. A man punching or raping a woman, jars us more if the woman is white and the perpetrator happens NOT to be.

Even in the Trayvon Martin case, I'm still convinced that Zimmerman was probably more of impulsive nut job than a proven racist but the media couldn't see it that way. Hence, people had to pick sides, as opposed to just taking people and their actions at face value.

Nov. 21 2013 12:51 PM

The commentor Stefano has it correct. All cultures are susceptible to this violent behavior.

During Jim Crowe, mobs of white southern men would do this to black men. Emit Till would be an example.

I'm from Chicago. My mom was born and raised near the Robert Taylor homes. She has stories of the police picking up black folks and dropping them off in the near by Italian neighborhood. The game was to see the condition they were in when they got out of the neighborhood.

Nov. 21 2013 12:44 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

I'm reviewing the "what we learned" bullet points and I'm not sure that I agree. Sure, this behavior is mostly driven by economic (class) and age but that is not the whole story. It's a clever way to dissimulate. Trying to turn the question of "who is doing what to whom?" into a question of "why are they doing it?". We all know why they're doing it, they're dumb, bored, thrill seeking kids just like the guest said. All races and creeds have to endure their adolescents - but that doesn't change the fact that it is almost entirely black kids playing this "game" and that black urban youth culture glorifies it far out of proportion to any other. Culture is not a permanent thing which is why I don't see these facts (as I see them) as some sort of covert racist attitude but let's not pretend that black culture and black people are being "victimized" just by pointing out the facts.

Nov. 21 2013 12:40 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Thankfully there are video cameras to record what happens and prove who is attacking whom.

Nov. 21 2013 12:16 PM

The victims are mostly white and the perpetrators are mostly black.
The male in Hoboken, NJ murdered by a knock out punch, was latino.

If the race of the victims and perpetrators were reversed,
it would be called a Hate Crime.

Nov. 21 2013 12:11 PM
The Truth from Becky

It's not about race just because the racial assassins in here say so.

Nov. 21 2013 12:06 PM
Jason from Boulder, CO

Brian, I am sorry to say your credibility (or at the very least that of WNYC/BLS) took a sizable hit today with the way your "guest" handled the questions on race and your general reluctance to address the obviously racial component of these attacks in general. With few exceptions these seem to be black teens committing violent acts on White, Asian or Latino victims. Why is everyone so afraid to talk about the facts?! It will be interesting to see how this phenomenon plays out in states with conceal and carry laws.

Nov. 21 2013 12:01 PM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Neither Al Sharptons "National Action Network" or the "Amsterdam News" have any articles on the "knockout game".

Ignoring an uncomfortable story.

Nov. 21 2013 11:57 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Bravo mgduke!

Nov. 21 2013 11:47 AM
khadija Boyd from Brooklyn

Interesting; read comments, the majority of which seem to refer to the "other", ie, non-caucasian person/s, not reference to age, except "teen".! Geez, our teens are too exhausted cramming, playing video games/X/Wii whatever... They do, occasionnaly venture for concerts in Manhattan [however mostly in Williamsburg]; they have fun,they laugh a lot, they all have 360 degree vision; they pitch in for a cab to come home. BTW, all hues and ethnies and multi-racial across ethnies. Violence is violence; our kiddos know that. We have been fortunate that, thus far, our children have remained safe. & tks NYPD for keeping a keen eye; yes, my child & a few of his friends were S&F. The Officers were rookies, scared out of their wits; our kids were respectful, [tho giggling], all all went ok. as the kiddos would say, Chillax, hey?

Nov. 21 2013 11:44 AM

Mr Butts is clearly being intentionally dishonest when he tries to conceal that the perpetrators have been predominantly if not entirely black, and the victims predominantly if not entirely white.

His absurd pretense that the reason so many victims in Crown Heights are white Jews is only because of the large Hasidic make up of the neighborhood is not just ludicrous but unconscionable. If the identity of the victims and attackers were a function only of comparative racial numbers of the neighborhood, then wouldn’t most of the attackers also be Hasidic? Can Mr Butts cite even one instance of a group of Hasidic youth punching an elderly black man?

As a senior citizen, I find Mr Butts’s dishonesty to be an vicious betrayal of the law abiding population of NYC, trying to conceal from us the identifiable elements of a danger from which we need to be alert to protect ourselves from.

Someone as unconscionably dishonest as Mr Butts has no legitimate place in the American educational system. John Jay should terminate his contract, and he should not be given air on WNYC without being subjected to much more confrontational questioning to bring out the truth.

Nov. 21 2013 11:40 AM
Anthony from Brooklyn

I was appalled by the way this show treated the subject. You are the "media." And you are perpetuating what you are reporting on by your irresponsible use of the term "knockout games." Disgusted with the Brian Lehrer show right now.

Nov. 21 2013 11:35 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Of the savages who are committing this game of violence,

just wait until their father hears about this!!!

Oh, no father at home because the father abandoned his family, the mother kicked the father out, the father is in prison?

Nov. 21 2013 11:33 AM
Steve in bklyn

It happened to me in Boston 1974 when I was a student. 1 on 1 in a fairly empty street in the evening. He punched me in the mouth breaking my front teeth and took off. I was a trombone player at Burklee school of music. I went up to a police car and they left me standing on the corner bleeding.

Nov. 21 2013 11:28 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Ya'know it's funny what people refuse to see if they think for a moment they'll be considered racist. It's like willful blindness. Is "twerking" a white thing? By that I mean did the practice originate within Caucasian as opposed to afro-american culture? I don't think so. What about the Blues? Which white guy was it who pioneered the Blues down in the Delta? Oh, right... so only good things can be attributed to a culture? Not bad? Look, white people are plenty violent, our history bears that out, it's not up for debate but this phenomenon, this "knockout game" certainly originated in the black community and the perpetrators are mostly black, as are the victims, the fact that white people are only now becoming aware of this bears that out.

Nov. 21 2013 11:28 AM

Targeting anyone perceived as"other" is not a hate crime? Isn't that the quintessential definition of hate crime? If this were white on black/minority it would be the de facto narrative. That both you and the guest gave short shrift to the caller who reported he got arrested for defending himself-shows a politically correct double standard;minorities are given a wide berth no matter what they do and majority whites are given a narrow berth -even as victims.

Nov. 21 2013 11:26 AM
fuva from harlemworld

One night a few years ago, was walking in Central Parkand two latino young men just walked up to me and started swinging. I ducked, but they caught me a coupla times.
They then continued on their way, and I followed them, while dialing 911. They saw me following them and started booking. I ran after them with 911 on the line, trailing them to their apartment building a few blocks away. I waited for the cops. When they came, they questioned me, chalked it up to 'gang' antics and asked me if I wanted to pursue the matter since I was basically unhurt. I took a pass...

Nov. 21 2013 11:26 AM

This program is a disgrace.

The attacks are by blacks.

The victims are not black. Jewish, Asian, or white.

This broadcast exemplifies why, though I listen to WNYC everyday, and I donate to many causes, I never donate to WNYC.

Jeffrey Butts was covering his own assets. He didn't want to make a controversial statement.

Who suffers most? Decent African Americans. Whites, Jews, Asians, will decline to enter AA neighborhoods ... businesses suffer ...

All because butts like Butts refuse to address the real problem.

Nov. 21 2013 11:24 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from M

Only the Left Wing Media could call racist hate crime attacks by black punks against Orthodox Jews and older white people a "game'.

This guest was a coward!!!

Nov. 21 2013 11:24 AM
bill from nyc

i had a buddy who referred to this game as "corners," where you'd hide behind a corner and then commence the attack. i was disgusted, not having grown up in the city, but he's an adult now, which means he would've been playing this game over 13 years ago.

Nov. 21 2013 11:19 AM
Mike from Tribeca

It's part of our genetic makeup to find patterns where very often none exist.

Nov. 21 2013 11:16 AM
stefano from 11206

Anyway, it happened to me in Williamsburg in 2005, on Bedford and N6 a group of latin kids i was walking by hit me at random and started pummeling me after circling me. They did not try to rob me at all. They told me I "cursed" Puertoricans, but that was just some bogus excuse as I never uttered a word.

After a few minutes they left (bystanders just ignored me being beaten up). I waved at a NYPD van and I got them arrested, although the experience with the NYPD was negative, as the captain sounded annoyed and kept asking in front of the people that attacked me if I wanted to press charges. The stares I was getting were far from friendly. I could only identify one and he had a criminal record. This kind of stuff always happened. Race should be played down. If it was in a different country - like somewhere in Europe, it could be the kids from the suburbs attacking the person that lives in the city center. or the person from the South attacking the person from the North. the skinhead attacking the preppy or the person wearing the wrong soccer team scarf. Let's not make always an issue about race.

Nov. 21 2013 11:15 AM
tim from NYC

this is definitely not a new thing. it happened to me in chicago about 12 years ago. three guys coming the opposite direction on the sidewalk, i had some grocery bags in my hands. one sucker punch, i was down and they were gone. a bit further up the block another guy had just had the same thing happen to him.
fwiw, they were not black.

Nov. 21 2013 11:15 AM

It happened to me.
McCarren park pool brings a rough crowd into my hood in the summer

But how about offering teens after school jobs instead of ignoring them, hoping they will behave

Nov. 21 2013 11:15 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Well said Nick...This has going on for years. Look on worldstarhiphop and you will see lots of blacks and Hispanics getting knocked out "in the hood."

This has a lot more to do with class and culture than race.

That being said, it's hard to ignore that the perpetrators may very well be using race as a factor in sizing up their victims, because the perps assume their victims will not fight back.

Nov. 21 2013 11:15 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

Yehuda (caller) has provided a thoughtful opinion here. In response, Prof Butthead is working hard on his PC spin!

Nov. 21 2013 11:14 AM
Robert Johnson from Manhattan

When I was in the Army in the '60s, a friend said he was walking on Brooklyn Bridge and got knife-slashed across his butt. This seemed to be a fad in those days because the victim can't sit down while the wound heals.

Nov. 21 2013 11:14 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Yes, this has been going on for a long time in the hood.
Maybe this media attention is because it's now trickling out of the hood or
because there are non-white victims given gentrification...

Nov. 21 2013 11:13 AM
Ed from Larchmont

If they take a swing, are we free to just knock their lights out?

Nov. 21 2013 11:12 AM
Hmm from Brooklyn

Knockout Game: Because you can't Stop & Frisk for a fist

Nov. 21 2013 11:12 AM

Your guest seems to say this is normal, and is the same thing as always, What about the fact that black music used to be about love, and now it's about selfishness and nastiness(hip hop)

Nov. 21 2013 11:11 AM
Alexis from Brooklyn

This phenomena is part of a larger internet-based culture of disrespect and assault. For instance, the meme of sexually harassing women and then recording it---which seems to be an almost exclusively WHITE phenomena:

"Latest YouTube Pick-Up 'Prank' Is Full-Blown Sexual Assault"

"Internet Pranks Are Getting Rapey-er Every Day"

Nov. 21 2013 11:11 AM
Dan from UES

Absolutely agree with Marcia!
Stop calling it a "game"! When reporting, it should be stressed that the young sociopaths perceive it as a "game".
It is an assault. A crime.

Nov. 21 2013 11:11 AM
Joyce from NYC

OK, Brian, now we have to question your choice of guests.

Assault that delivers great harm and could lead to death is EXUBERANT TEENAGE BEHAVIOR ?????????????

Nov. 21 2013 11:11 AM
ivan obregon from nyc

it's been going on since the 70's, is usually under-reported or under-investigated, and is surprisingly often a viciously horrific black mob-girl-on-non-black (white/latina/asian/muslim/jewish) isolated girl scenario...and still a reality on the nyc subway almost everyday.

Nov. 21 2013 11:10 AM

Incredible to me that everyone's outraged that the perps' race isn't being discussed, meanwhile the fact that they are ALL MALE just gets shrugged off as normal, oh-well, to-be-expected.

The incidence of violence committed BY MEN hugely dwarfs assaults by females.

The predators are ALL MEN. Why is it okay to whine about race not being noticed but perfectly okay to ignore this overwhelming fact?

Nov. 21 2013 11:10 AM
Paul Paulson from Hobken

A homeless man was killed here in Hoboken two blocks from my home by two Jersey city kids playing this 'game.' How is this game not 'attempted homicide?'

Nov. 21 2013 11:09 AM
Mr. Bad from NYC

Is it a "black thing"? Sorry but yeah, pretty much it is. Not to say that white kids haven't done it or won't in future but dancing around the truth only makes it more obvious. The practice originated in the black community and is glamorized by websites like worldstarhiphop.

Nov. 21 2013 11:09 AM
dan from Brooklyn

I wish it wasn't about race, but all my life it's been the same story. It's a cultural problem. You can't speak of class alone. There's plenty of poor, peaceful people. The violence comes from a culture that looks the other way. It's clear that the reasons for this are multifaceted, but some cultures are tied to religion, some of country of origin, and some to race. All contribute to behaviors both good and bad. To ignore that is unscientific.

I and my friends, of all races, have been jumped many times in my 40 years in nyc, and the race of the perpetrators has never been a question. My girlfriend and I were just robbed at knifepoint by five 16 yr olds. I caught one, and after we got his name from the police,we later found them glorifying their crimes and loot on facebook!

Nov. 21 2013 11:09 AM
John from Bklyn

Hilarious, these are black boys hitting White and Asian women and men - nationwide.

See: “White Girl Bleed a Lot,” by Colin Flaherty

Black on White crime stories are systematically suppressed by American media. They mean well.

We had to read the Guardian, from England, to learn about Trayvon Martin's thug past.

This guest is flatly dishonest - to comply with political correctness.

If Brian were to present a forthright discussion, he would be fired and unemployable.

Nov. 21 2013 11:08 AM


'Game' is socially progressive.

Nov. 21 2013 11:07 AM
stefano from 11206

in my native Italy years ago some kids started throwing rocks at cars on the highway from overpasses. When it got widely reported on the media the phenomenon really became widespread allover the country.

I think it slowed down when a woman (that might have been pregnant) died when a rock that went through the windshield and hit her as she was sitting in the passenger seat.

I think excessive reporting of knockout like the guest said may create many copycats. Instead of focusing on the perpetrators, the media should show images of the victims. Even on this page: if the photo showed a bruised victim instead of a group of kids attacking a passerby it would discourage copycats and humanize victims.
But the photo / video grab that WNYC used could help enabling imitators.

Nov. 21 2013 11:07 AM
Tony from Canarsie

genejoke from Brooklyn -- "That said, watch your back, everyone."

Why be paranoid about something that, as the guest just said, rarely happens?

Nov. 21 2013 11:06 AM
Joyce from NYC

Dear me -- since we are not allowed to think about race, I guess I will have to watch out for orthodox Jews when getting into my car.

Nov. 21 2013 11:06 AM
Billy D'Blazz from Brooklyn, NY

Any time you see a gang of teens on the street, no matter what race, steer as far away as you can get. Doesn't matter if they're Crips-in-Training or Youth for Christ. Nothing good ever comes from a gang a teens walking around aimlessly.

Nov. 21 2013 11:06 AM

Don't call it a "game"! It's sirious violence. That's a crime. It's assult.
Many years ago friends if mine in middle school where "playing" in "road relate" - running to the road and trying to run away befor getting hit. This is probably comeing from same sorce. Educating+ consiquenses can stop it.

Nov. 21 2013 11:05 AM
Alexis from Brooklyn

Do a few minutes of internet research on WorldStarHipHop and other such sites and you will see that this has been a mostly poor-on-poor, black-on-black phenomena for years and now that there are more white victims, it has generated media coverage. As usual, the racial privilege of the victims is what makes it relevant to the media--not an uptick in crime itself.

Nov. 21 2013 11:05 AM
TSOL from Brooklyn

Boy, these guys are tap-dancing around the racial nature of the attacks. Typical for NPR/WNYC and academics.

Nov. 21 2013 11:04 AM
foodaggro from Brooklyn

It's not about race? Are there members of other races playing this game?
Drop the PC b.s.

Nov. 21 2013 11:04 AM
khadija Boyd from Brooklyn

to the perpetrators of this "antic": U better watch out, 'ya never know who'll KO U...
As well, I do not believe that this is a "Teen" phenomenon. 'nough said, and again, try it on me, babes; & I ain't no Van.D, @ 62. However,you'd wish to god, the universe, whatever, that U never ran into me, nor into my friends, much less my kin, 'cause, there'd be a little bit of this, a little bit of that, etc....

Nov. 21 2013 11:04 AM
Marcia from NYC

The word "game" should not be used to describe this crime. It is an assault. Calling it a game equates it with fun.

Nov. 21 2013 11:03 AM

Well, perhaps my Martial Arts training will serve me well. Master Phipps always sneaks up behind me in the dojo and even outside on the street and grabs me out of the blue - just so I am always on my toes. One of the many reasons I started the training was because as a very short woman I figure may become a bigger target as I age.

The worst thing about this is that now teenage boys will treated with greater suspicion than they already are. Most teenage boys are just fine and don't go around punching people.

I agree with the commentator about shifting the focus in the media about what is shown to focusing on the fact that they will be videotaped and can be caught rather than the punches.

Nov. 21 2013 11:03 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Is the News Media Over-Hyping "The Knockout Game?"

It depends on the ethnicity of the perpetrators / thugs / knuckledraggers.

Nov. 21 2013 11:01 AM
Nick B. Steves from Jersey

Heard the teaser on the way into work today. Couldn't miss that tasty question about whether, now that Orthodox Jews have been targeted, is now becoming a hate crime?

Now? Now??!!!???!!

Let me be clear: Attempting to knock out (and that is the metric of "victory" in this game: one punch, unconscious victim) iss (is and ONLY is) a crime of unspeakable, barbaric hatred.

"Controversial" African-American Atlanta based Talk-show host Tommy Sotomayor diagnoses the real problem and recommends a solution in no uncertain, even if colorful, terms here:

In short, this "game" has been going on for years. It is invariably a black on white, black on hispanic, or black on Asian crime. Hundreds of videos on youtube are available to us thanks to near ubiquity of smart phones, and not a little surveillance footage. The mainstream media has aggressively and quite adroitly ignored this phenomenon. And now that the animals, the "youths", have attacked some Orthodox Jews it finally cannot be ignored, but only because is "might" be a hate crime.

Nov. 21 2013 11:01 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

This reminds me of the scene in A Clockwork Orange when Alex and his droogies beat up an old man for no reason. It is a horrible thought that young people are deliberately executing violence for no reason other than boredom, and the perpetrators of these outrageous activities should be locked up for a long time.

What your guest is saying about the teens not giving this any forethought or consideration of others' feelings or consequences of their actions is typical of teens. All the brain studies of teenagers show that they do not consider consequences, among other things.

Nov. 21 2013 11:01 AM
Tony from Canarsie

Shades of the media creating and hyping "wilding" in the late 1980's.

Last year, the press in Baltimore had a field day with a similar story, but when the facts of the incident came out they had nothing to do with a game or gangs. But by then, the media had moved on to the next headline grabber.

Nov. 21 2013 11:00 AM
Judy from Manhattan, Wash Hts.

My husband was a victim of this on the Upper West Side about 8 years ago. He was surrounded by a group of middle school students in front of the Museum of Nat. History. One kid sucker punched him in the face. He went down and came up ready to defend himself but was grabbed from behind by another kid who told him not to do it. He walked away. Had to go to the hospital. Black eye. Kid was caught and prosecuted. Victim was white, kids were black.

Nov. 21 2013 11:00 AM
Joyce from NYC


News stories should now be "SOCIALLY PROGRESSIVE"?????????

Nov. 21 2013 11:00 AM

So... "a socially progressive story" would not reveal what really happened.

Nov. 21 2013 11:00 AM
John A

Saturday Night Live : Foo Fighters/ Jon Bon Jovi guests.
Absolute match to what this is.
Too bad.

Nov. 21 2013 11:00 AM
Joyce from NYC

Is this really "random?"

Could we get some facts here:

- What percent doing this are black?

- What percent doing this are orthodox Jewish?

Or is this question not permitted?

Nov. 21 2013 10:58 AM
Edward from Washington Heights AKA pretentious Hudson Heights

Is the News Media Over-Hyping "The Knockout Game?"

It depends on the ethnicity of the perpetrators.

Nov. 21 2013 10:52 AM
John A

My first notice of this was an SNL Andy Samberg short made a few years ago. Hope they didn't start this trend.

Nov. 21 2013 10:52 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Reminds me of that Washington D.C case 20 years ago, when thugs taped themselves knocking out a man.

I don't think such a despicable act can ever be over-hyped.

Nov. 21 2013 10:09 AM
genejoke from Brooklyn

These loser kids are such f***ing cowards.
That said, watch your back, everyone.

Nov. 21 2013 09:51 AM

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