A Stones Throw 1-1-15

23

I have a New Year’s wish: I wish the world – especially as reported by major media – will regain a semblance of sanity and abandons the need for biased sensationalism.

I know this is an impossible dream, but just think how different things might be.

I know there will always be those who do not value human life – sometimes not even their own. I know there will be assaults, murders, and untold horrific violence. But, I also know the reaction of the media often determines the reaction of the public.

A case in point is the brutal ambush assassination of New York police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjuan Liu as they sat in their patrol car on Saturday, December 20th. The two officers had not been in any confrontations with the public. The two officers were simply sitting in their patrol car, observing life in the neighborhood.

Neither officer saw the gunman coming. Neither officer saw the gunman raise his gun. Neither officer felt the bullet enter his head.

Both officers died immediately.

And the media responded immediately with cries of distress over the unwarranted assassination of two police officers.

The media responded the way I think they should.

The headline didn’t read “Young Black man ambushes two police officers without cause.”

Instead, if it were not for a picture of the shooter, I would not have known he was Black. So, I had to wonder: why was the media showing sensibility and responsibility with their reports of the death of two New York policemen while showing just the opposite when a young Black man is killed in a police action?

I found it interesting as I read about the assassination, I also read about the thousands of protesters who were shutting down stores and entire malls on the busiest shopping day of the year. These protesters were carrying signs and shouting “I can’t breathe” and “Black lives count” while holding their hands up in surrender mode.

I had to wonder how these protesters could justify destroying the business for many that depend on holiday sales for the success of their business. I wondered how those demonstrators could justify ruining Christmas for parents and children alike (Many of them African-American).

I had to wonder how closing down the Mall of America in Minneapolis had anything to do with a police action shooting in Missouri or a police action that resulted in a man choking to death in New York.

Then, I read about the murder of the two New York police officers. I read the headlines and the articles.

And I watched the reaction of the public.

I didn’t see riots that destroyed lives and property.

I didn’t see hundreds of people marching in protest.

I didn’t see highways shut down by demonstrators – malls closed because of protesters.

I didn’t see Attorney General Eric Holder announce an immediate federal investigation into the assassinations or into the assassin’s neighborhood.

Instead, I saw quiet and respectful neighbors, both Black and White, mourning the loss of the two police officers. I saw a neighborhood response not unlike those I see when a teenager dies in a traffic accident, or a death occurs for any reason. There were flowers, there were memorials, and, there were tears.

Then, the media moved on to Florida where, on Sunday, December 21st, 45 year-old police officer Charles Kondek was shot and killed. The media reported the shooter was in custody.

The media did not report the race of the shooter. I have not seen any pictures of the shooter, so I don’t know the race of the shooter.

And, it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that another police officer has died while doing his duty. Another police officer is dead while trying to make his city safe for all who live there.

As with the New York assassination of Rafael Ramos and Wenjuan Liu, the media presented the death of Officer Charles Kondek with a straight forward, objective news report.

Perhaps a return to media sensibility and sanity?

This is wishful thinking.

Last week I was watching CNN. The panel was discussing the murder of the two New York police officers and why it happened.

A couple of those on the panel excused the action as that of a mentally unstable individual who had not planned the assassination, but just reacted when he saw the police officers. Those same talking heads said that race was not a factor.

I didn’t hear a contradiction, even though news reports showed that the day before the assassinations, the shooter had posted on Facebook that he wanted to kill policemen.

The shooter (he doesn’t deserve to have his name mentioned.) in his Facebook post claimed the need to kill the police was a result of the killing of Michael Brown in Missouri and of Eric Garner in New York.

So much for spontaneous – non-racial – action.

Then, the state of the media – CNN style – was revealed. The host of the panel gave a report of a police action shooting where a Black teenager was shot and killed and the Grand Jury “failed to indict.” She went on to say she wasn’t talking about the Brown case or the Garner case – she was talking about a case in Wisconsin where, on the previous Monday, the Grand Jury had “failed to indict” the police officer who fired the shot.

With this, she said while she abhorred the death of the two police officers in New York, she could certainly understand why retaliation against the police would happen.

“Failed to indict.” By saying the Grand Jury “failed to indict,” the insinuation is that the Grand Jury “failed” in doing their duty. Instead of recognizing the hard work and the difficult decisions a Grand Jury faces, a “no-bill” becomes a “failure” in the eyes of the media.

And by saying she understands why retaliation against the police would happen, in my mind she is saying both that all police are guilty of inappropriate actions and that any action against the police can be justified.

This sounds like the Taliban or the Islamic State.

I guess if the Taliban can justify the killing of 143 school children because they might grow up to be soldiers who oppose the Taliban, then some in the U.S. media can justify the killing of police officers.

I know many will say that the above comparison is not appropriate. There is no connection. There is no relationship between the Taliban and “oppressed” minorities.

I totally agree.

There is no connection. There is no relationship.

Just as there was no connection – no relationship – to a police action in Missouri and the assassination of two police officers in New York.

That is, there was no connection – no relationship – other than those police officers were trying to make the neighborhoods a safe place to live.

A safe place to work.

I hope as we enter 2015, all people – especially the mass media – recognize this. I hope that all people – especially the mass media – treat all people and all actions equal.

I think racial and many other problems will calm if the media does not continually fan the fire.

Unfortunately, this is too much to hope.

Sanity and sensibility don’t sell excitement. Responsibility is just a word in the dictionary.

In other words – 2015 looks to be another challenging year.

- Mike Cooney

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PS: I personally want to thank each and every police officer in Switzerland County for all you do to make Switzerland County a safe place to live. The same goes for every police officer in Indiana, and throughout our country.

Thank you!