Mob Punishments Never Weigh Equal With the Crime, and Amy Cooper Is a Good Example

AP Photo/Seth Wenig
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Two people walk a dog through Central Park on a rainy day in New York, Monday, April 13, 2020. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York’s death toll from coronavirus has topped 10,000, with hospitals still seeing 2,000 new patients a day. The death tally hit the milestone only about a month after the state recorded its first death. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Yesterday, I wrote on how the mob is one of the lowest depths to which humans can sink. You can read it by following the link below, but the gist of it is that the formation of a mob allows people to turn their ignorance into power and force it on their victims.

As an example, I used the lady who was harassed and intimidated by a group of people in a grocery store simply for not wearing a mask.

(READ: “The Mob: The Dregs of Human Intelligence”)

As I was writing that very article, a story began developing surrounding a woman named Amy Cooper. To give you a rundown, Cooper was allowing her dog to run around a park without a leash. Cooper was confronted by a black man who said that she needed to leash her dog and take it somewhere else. Upon refusal to do so, the man began trying to attract her dog to him, resulting in the altercation blowing up with the man filming Cooper and Cooper threatening to call the cops because an “African-American man was threatening her.”

I want to be very clear about something before I continue. I’m in no way on Cooper’s side about this. Her behavior was idiotic and calling the police to make it seem like a black man was attacking her when he wasn’t was a horrible thing for her to do. I think, however, those two things pale in comparison to the fact that she was abusing her dog by keeping it on its hind legs while holding onto the collar around its neck, effectively choking it.

Cooper became public enemy number one almost immediately. She was deemed racist and an animal abuser. Her name became a top trending topic on Twitter. She offered a public apology and voluntarily gave up the dog back to the rescue shelter where she got it from.

“I sincerely and humbly apologize to everyone, especially to that man, his family,” Cooper said. “It was unacceptable and I humbly and fully apologize to everyone who’s seen that video, everyone that’s been offended … everyone who thinks of me in a lower light and I understand why they do.”

That should be that. Her apology was given and accepted by the birder she had the confrontation with. He acknowledges that it was a stupid thing done in a moment brought on by stress, partly because of his race and sex. Sadly, it’s not the end. Cooper has since lost her job and is a high-profile public pariah. She’s told CNN that her “entire life is being destroyed right now.”

The woman is apparently receiving death threats. At this point, the black man she was fighting with has had to ask people to stop sending her death threats.

Did she deserve all of this?

My readers know how I feel about Karens, and Cooper definitely is one of them. She definitely deserved some measure of shame for her actions, which were atrocious. However, in every person’s life, there is a moment where anxiety, stress, anger, sadness, or something will take over and you will act like a complete idiot. We’ve all been there. Cooper just happened to have hers on camera.

We don’t know Cooper. We don’t know if she acts like that regularly. We don’t know if she was just having a bad day. Maybe she is just a horrible, entitled person who doesn’t like to hear the word “no” and will go to great lengths to make people give her what she wants. Maybe she was just lost in a moment of stress and anger.

We don’t know. More than that, it’s not our business to really know. We shouldn’t know who Amy Cooper is, even now.

It’s this lack of knowledge that, in part at least, should cause us to refrain from forming a mob and going after her.

More importantly, it should also be said that the punishment that was netted out doesn’t fit the crime. Since we don’t know Cooper we shouldn’t be so ready to be pleased with the dogpiling that happened to her once the incident turned viral. Even if we did know Cooper, having an entire nation turn on her, get her fired, and make her feel afraid to step outside her own door is a step too far.

This leads me to my ultimate point.

Mobs are often ignorant and hypocritical to boot. They aren’t concerned with justice because a mob consists of angry people looking to mete out punishment, not restore balance. Cooper’s life has been destroyed by people who will never meet Cooper and will never have to think of her again after this week. They can move on while Cooper cannot. The mob can move on without any guilt because it thinks it righted a wrong, but really all it did was try to correct a wrong with another wrong, doing more damage than was necessary in its shared madness among its members.

Cooper is still the bad guy in this situation but now so are the people who went after her. She acted childishly, but you don’t punish a child for acting up by beating them nearly to death. That’s called abuse. The mob is an abuser in this situation.

These same people who took part in mob action should hope that no one ever catches them having a bad day on camera.


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