Sunday, November 30, 2014

Race and Yellow Journalism

The opening lines of Wikipedia provides this definition of Yellow Journalism:
Yellow journalism, or the yellow press, is a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers.  Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism.

This well describes the condition of our mainstream media, particularly TV news which has been all too eager to repeatedly broadcast the fire and destruction of a lawless mob in Ferguson, Missouri.  In an effort to appear objective, this same press peppers the news with background sound bites relating to race to establish a rational case for the anger and hostility of the few.  (Yes, I know black males are disproportionately incarcerated when compared to white males...but guess what?  Men are disproportionately incarcerated when compared to should we put more women in prison to even it out?  Of course not!)  While I have seen the fires and brick throwing mob numerous times on TV, I have yet to see a single TV station play the clip of Michael Brown robbing the store prior to the fatal shooting.  Yes, I know our yellow press will be quick to point out that the clip from the convenience store does not show what happened during the fatal altercation and they have chosen not to run this clip out of sensitivity to Michael Brown's family.

Sensitivity to the family?  What about the store that was robbed or Officer Wilson?  Moreover, what happened to truth and balanced reporting?  The truth is today's TV reporting reflects not only the yellow press of sensationalism; selling flashes of mob driven fires, destruction and mayhem, but also reflects the historic usage of “yellow” as in cowardice.  Our mainstream media is cowardly, politically correct media.

While the robbery clip does not show what happened during the fatal altercation, it speaks volumes of the character of Michael Brown.  The clip clearly shows that Michael Brown was not some shy teenager, but rather a very large individual who was not shy about using his physical brawn to get his way.  Mr. Brown brazenly steals from the store and shoves the store clerk to the side in a dismissive manner when confronted.  In short, Michael Brown was a thug.

What seems apparent now is that Michael Brown laid hands on Officer Darren Wilson.  This is not a black issue or a white issue...anyone who lays hands on a police officer is headed down the wrong path.  In viewing the pictures of Brown and Wilson, it is not their skin color that shouts at me but their size difference.  I had originally guessed Michael Brown's weight at around 240.  I heard a later report of 292.  My guess of Officer Wilson's weight would be around 170.  What is our expectations of our police?  Do we want them to return to the station and report, “Well, I saw the suspect but he was too big.”  This is not a race issue.  If the suspect had been a 250 pound Hell's Angel member on a Harley, wouldn't we want our law enforcement to intervene?

Another fabrication that is going around and which has been given repeated air time by our yellow press is this chant of “hands up, don't shoot.”  I have little doubt that if Michael Brown had put his hands up and cooperated from the get-go, the outcome would have been different.  The person most responsible for Michael Brown's death is Michael Brown.  This was not a shooting based on race, but a tragic outcome driven by lawless arrogance and contempt for authority.

Tragically, shortly on the heels of the decision not to indict Officer Wilson there was also a shooting of a 12 year old black child who was in a public park pointing a toy gun at passersby.  These toy guns are sold with a color marker to identify that they are not real; unfortunately, the safety coloring of this toy gun had been removed.  Officers responded to the call and in the interaction that followed the child was fatally shot.  I say with all sincerity that my heart goes out to any parent who loses a child.  Sadly, defense mechanism surface when tragedies such as this happen and among them is a tendency to blame others.  Unfortunately, once again the race shingle is being hung and ugly cries of racism being uttered for this shooting by a white cop of a black child.  More tragically, once again our yellow press does not have the courage to explore some of the obvious but more delicate questions such as who removed the safety coloring from the gun?  Why are parents allowing their 12 year old to take this toy gun that looks very much real to the park to terrorize passersby?  Were they not aware?  If not, then why weren't they?  If they were aware, why isn't the judgment of the parents questioned?  Once again, it seems we have a tragic event that has less to do about race and more to do about individual actions.

Of all topics, I think writing on issues of race is my least favorite.  Yes, I believe there is much left to be done in regards to race relations in America and there are many instances of racial injustice.  Justice for all includes justice for those business owners victimized by the lawless in Ferguson.  I believe in fairness for all; everyone should have the opportunity to be heard – even this white guy.  If you disagree with me; good, please feel free to post your rebuttal on and by all means demonstrate but when it comes to your civil rights keep in mind the eloquent words of Chafee, "Your right to swing your arms ends just where the other man's nose begins."