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White Rage Privilege in Judicial System

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Many skinheads and racist whites have been prosecuted for violence against African Americans, Asians, and other racial or religious minorities. People are not aware of any of them arguing that they should be acquitted because of their hatred of other races or religions. However, there is a famous case in which white rage was a determining factor and which allows us to explore with the viability of a white rage defense. The case took place in Hawaii in 1931 and involved U.S. Navy lieutenant, Thomas Massie, who was accused of murdering Joseph Kahahawai.

The major contributing factors to the distorted system are someone’s position in society and their ethnicity. Andy Martin, a writer for the Independent News Letter, mentions ironically that the Massie case was defended by Clarence Darrow, who delivered “a four-hour closing speech begging for the sympathy of the jury”. As a result, Darrow lost the case and Thomas Massie, Grace Fortescue, and the rest who were involved in the incident were found guilty, but instead of receiving a “ten years apiece” they were instead given a “one hour and a glass of champagne in the governor’s office”. Clarence Darrow was then criticized by the Hawaiians as taking the side of the racial prejudice. The fact that Darrow’s defense of Lieutenant Massie and cohorts put him on the wrong side of the most racially charged trial in the history of Hawaii. The values one is defending and the messages one is sending to the public are critical to a lawyer embarking upon a white rage defense. Examining Darrow’s actions can shed some light on these issues and help advocates think through their political responsibilities when choosing to defend someone.

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Just like the case in 1931 when Joseph Kahahawai was murdered and accused of a crime with a lack of evidence, there are still in society today many people who are arrested or imprisoned based on their appearance or ethnicity. Another prime example would be the case of the death of 17-year-old, Trayvon Martin, who was fatally shot on February 26, 2012, at Sanford, Florida by the 28-year-old, George Zimmerman. Nick Summer, a writer for the Daily Beast, mentions that Zimmerman confused Martin of doing “suspicious activity” and claimed that “it was self-defense”. The jury found the accused not guilty for both second-degree murder and the lesser charge of manslaughter. George Zimmerman was not charged with anything regards to the law, he was free of all charges and seen as not guilty for the crime that he committed. It was ruled that he acted in self-defense and that the shooting that took place that night was not premeditated. After the case, millions of people including family and friends of Martin protested to demand justice for Trayvon Martin and Zimmerman not receiving some sort of punishment for his actions. Zimmerman has not been arrested or charged due to insufficient evidence and self-defense as of today.

Privileged circumstances and influential connections is a massive advantage in the Judicial System as we can find a correspondence between the Thalia Massie Case back in 1931 and the Travyon Martin case back in 2012. These crimes happened several years apart, yet they seem to be cut from the same cloth. When will society evolve into something habitable?

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White Rage Privilege in Judicial System. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
“White Rage Privilege in Judicial System.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
White Rage Privilege in Judicial System. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 22 Sept. 2023].
White Rage Privilege in Judicial System [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Sept 22]. Available from:
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