During Richard’s first court appearance, the press corners his family, asking them multiple questions. “What kind of boy is he?” they ask, and “Why do you think he did this?” Richard’s aunt tells the reporters that Richard was only “joking around” and that “he’s not a bad person,” but the news outlets see it differently. Setting someone on fire isn’t a joke—ever—and many of the online papers “seethe with outrage.” People take to Facebook and condemn Richard and Jasmine. “Lock him up,” they say. “Throw away the key. Lock up the mother too while you’re at it.”
While lighting someone on fire is clearly not funny, Slater suggests that the issue is not so straightforward, which further underscores the danger of binary thought. Richard never intended for Sasha to get hurt and condemning Richard as a criminal full of hate does not accurately describe his actions. Richard’s situation is bit more nuanced than that, and the interaction between his family and the press reflects this.