But viral racist outrage videos have an ugly side, too. They can be used to target people who are mentally ill and hold them up for public ridicule and cruel entertainment— a modern version, one might say, of the freak shows of times past. They can be used for grift and revenge. They can promote racial polarization more than understanding, encouraging the assumption that every interracial conflict is about race. And they can causes serious harm to their targets.
In this sense, the Karlos Dillard incident points to a real problem. Yet unlike the Amy Cooper/Stephen Cooper Central Park video, it has received no mainstream media attention despite setting off a big social media controversy. Cooper vs. Cooper was about a white woman weaponizing race to punish a black man for crossing her in an everyday social conflict. Karlos vs. “Karen” was the reverse.
The press is understandably leery of feeding the “white victimhood” narratives that the far right loves to exploit. But in a climate of racial hyperawareness, people (and not just white people: Moran, for instance, is Mexican-American) really can be victimized by public shaming based on a misleading video clip.
Perhaps the solution is for everyone — but especially professional journalists — to exercise responsibility before amplifying such content.