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To dehumanize is to create a boundary between yourself and the subject in order for you to feel comfortable violating social norms with this person. Usually in the form of violence.

image(Sorry about the bad shots out of Detroit, no glasses and shaky legs)

In the story below three men were attacked in their sleep by later identified assailants. The NYT article does a spectacular job of showing exactly how our media dehumanizes the homeless, even in an article decrying the dehumanization of the homeless.

How?

Through the simple expedient of making significant details prominent in the portion of the articles about the attacker. While ignoring the same about the victim.

Officer Simon Drobik of the Albuquerque Police Department said detectives had been combing through reports of assaults on homeless people to see if any may be linked to the three suspects accused of the weekend’s killings. He said that the younger boys had “minor stains” on their juvenile records, mostly for truancy and marijuana possession, and that Mr. Rios “had never been in too much trouble.”

“They just seemed to be lost kids,” Officer Drobik said.

The two juveniles had both dropped out of school — the 16-year-old after finishing eighth grade, and the 15-year-old after a middle-school suspension in February 2013, a spokesman for the city’s public school system said. Mr. Rios, for his part, was not enrolled in the school system, and it is unclear if he had been going to any school at all.

The half brothers lived with their father in one of the apartments at the stucco house, in a slice of Albuquerque’s west side known for its limited choices: Some struggle to get by, keeping their heads low and their mouths shut to avoid trouble, and some are lost to dysfunction and addiction. Chayo Perez, pastor at the Door Christian Fellowship, a Pentecostal church across the street from the lot, described his congregation as “a herd of exes — ex-drunks, ex-addicts, ex-cons.”

Think of the last time the police killed someone on video, isn't some of what are listed above being used against him in order to besmirch his character?

Compare to the details we know about the victims someone's father, brother, and son. Who's only crime was to be too poor to secure shelter.

His cousin, whose name he said was Al Gorman, and another homeless man he knew only as Cowboy, ended up dead
One sentence to define two men murdered in their sleep.

And then we wonder how something like this can come about.

Even if little is known about the victims that too can be listed. And the reporter could have simply pointed out the reality of our shelter system to explain how they ended up on a mattress in a parking lot.

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