The Charleston Tragedy And Media Manipulation

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This was not something that I had planned to write about, being that I didn’t really see a need. We have yet another case of innocent people falling victim to America’s crazed gun culture. This crime perpetrated by an extremely racist young man attempting (apparently) to start a race war by opening fire in America’s oldest and most influential Black church.

A crime made all the more disturbing by the fact that the young man had been welcomed into the congregation by its members. Also notable is that next of kin of the victims (as well as survivors) seem to be forgiving of the assailant. That is very admirable (we could all take a page from that book).

But one thing that does bug me (and many others) is how the media is covering this. Well, right wing media anyway. Though this appears to be (and was seemingly confirmed to be by the assailant himself) a hate crime, many sources are spinning it as an attack on faith.

People have taken notice of this trend of the Faux news organizations (and certain politicians) of the right, but many seem in wonder as to why. I suppose that one reason may be that they do not want to have themselves aligned with what equates to a right wing racially driven terrorist.
Like the Las Vegas  rampage couple, accurate reporting of this story may make people question what would influence such grand delusion. Could it be, their chosen news media sources?

But I will not point the finger to the right. Though it may SEEM an obvious connection, I don’t know what his preferences were.  For all I know he may have just grow up in an extremely racially biased household.

However, its hard (at least for me) to miss a bit of a parallel to the coverage of another mass shotting not to long ago. This one involving Craig Hicks, the so called “Atheist Terrorist” . Though that just seems to be a parking dispute that escalated WAY  further then it should have, the media ran with the 2 scary labels that Americans don’t understand (Atheist and Muslim).
This time around, they are not directly reporting this as a secular originated crime, likely because no such claim can be backed up (thus making it a false claim). But the methodology of spinning the story into an “attack on faith” does basically the same thing. Even if these sources are not explicitly saying that Dylan Roof was a “Racist Atheist Terrorist”, the spin of the story inadvertently activates the same distrust of Atheists and Secularism in the minds of the ignorant. The kind of ignorance that thrives on social media memes such as “this is what you get when you take god out of schools!”.

It is another matter if Dylan turns out to be a subscriber of secular beliefs. But if not (and in the meantime), those of us on the side of secularism (or just on the side of honest media reporting!) should be fighting this right wing spin.

Idaho Women Shoot By Toddler Son (With Her Own Gun)

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/12/idaho-woman-shot-dead-by-2-year-old-son-in-walmart-was-a-nuclear-research-scientist/

Yet another unfortunate story involving a gun accident and a minor out of the US. Very unfortunate.

When out on a shopping trip to a Walmart with her children as well as nieces and nephews (using up gift cards from Christmas), the mother Veronica apparently left her purse (containing a loaded gun) unattended. When the mother was not paying attention, her 2 year old son started going though the purse and found the gun. And it seems that he accidentally shot his mother.

Again, a very unfortunate accident. That 2 year old kid, a well as all those who were present that day, are going to have a lot to get over in the next few years. All because of yet ANOTHER irresponsible gun owner.

I don’t really care that the family (parents anyway) are gun enthusiasts. Its Idaho (big surprise!). And it does not matter that they are avid believers in concealed carry laws either. All that I expect of those that insist on those beliefs, is to practice them safely.

In the article, her husband was annoyed that this case has become a talking point for both sides of the gun control debate. Fair enough.

But he also takes offence to the notion being put fourth by many (including myself) claiming that his wife acted irresponsibly, and that part of the reason for her death.
I know your grieving, and its not easy to hear criticism against the dead (especially those close to you). But in this case, I see it as justified.

A purse containing a gun should NEVER EVER be left unattended for ANY length of time, let alone in the presence of a curious and mischievous 2 year old.
Shes not just at least partially responsible for for own death, but also for all the future anguish of her son.

I wish the family well.

And for everyone else, let this be not a talking point of gun control, but a lesson to learn from.

Forget Gun Control, Think Bullet Control

patrioticshellsrect

As most of us have heard by now, there was yet another instance of mass  gun violence to add to the ever growing list. This time at the Navy yard facility, in the US capital of Washington DC. The death toll this time, 12 or 13.

President Obama has wasted no time in using this as an opportunity to once again, call for more through background checks for purchasers of firearms. And though you will once again hear the same excuses coming from the “other” side of the room (“Now is not the time!”, “You are taking advantage of a terrible situation!”), I have to agree.

The 2ed amendment is a handy argument for many. But its a thoughtless (imagine that!) and foolish one. Because background check regulations  ALONE do not involve REMOVING weapons from their owners, nor do they in any way regulate the use of said weapons (beyond what is currently allowed, anyway). It is simply a safety check, one more way to try and keep dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

Bullet Control?

There is one methodology that I do not think I have heard discussed anywhere, that is the idea of bullet control.

Like a gasoline powered vehicle is useless without gas, a gun is useless without bullets. With this in mind, you can turn the whole idea of gun control on its head. If people want to purchase guns, then lets drop the regulations that we throw up, forget about them. Allow the purchase of any and every gun, to be as easy as buying a banana at the supermarket.

But, have VERY strict guidelines and regulations regarding the availability of bullets and ammunition.

For me, this seems a good happy medium. Its still easy to get a gun, and collectors wont have to worry about getting caught up in a mess of paperwork, just for adding a new piece  to their collection. But at the same time, it also gives a mechanism for mitigation of possible damage newly purchased weapons can do. And (depending on the sources of ammunition anyway), this could also apply to illegal weapons.

One of the arguments against gun control, is that it does nothing about the weapons ALREADY in circulation on the street. Which is a valid argument. But controlling the bullet supply, DOES tackle this problem.

And the best thing about this regulation, is it does not favor the MINORITY but overexposed plague of mass gun violence INCIDENTS, over the whole of the problem of gun violence itself. Because it does not matter if the  weapon is in the hands of a gang member, a contemplating mass murderer or an angry and/or depressed person, they ALL have to jump though the same hoops.

Gun control has earned a bad name lately, and though that is partially on the part of the oppositions thoughtless reactions to even the idea of it, it is also because some parts of it, just do not make sense. And if we keep pursuing it from the same angles that we have been, were bound to get the same results that we have been all along.

Which is why I think we need to rethink, and rewrite, our entire argument.

Lets drop the “gun” out of the equation entirely. Bullet Control.

A new term for a newly revamped argument.

Police Fatally Shoot Unarmed Former Football Player Who May Have Been Seeking Help After A Car Crash

Police Fatally Shoot Unarmed Former Football Player Who May Have Been Seeking Help After A Car Crash

Officer Randall Kerrick, 27, of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) in North Carolina is facing charges of voluntary manslaughter after fatally shooting Jonathan Ferrell, 24, a former Florida A&M football player who had apparently been seeking help after surviving a major car crash early Saturday morning.

CMPD officials called the shooting “excessive.” “Our investigation has shown that Officer Kerrick did not have a lawful right to discharge his weapon during this encounter,” said CMPD Chief Rodney Monroe in a statement. “It’s with heavy hearts and significant regrets it’s come to this… Our hearts go out to the Ferrell family and many members of the CMPD family. This is never something easy.”

The Charlotte Observer reports that the car crash was so severe that Ferrell likely had to “pull himself out” of the wreckage. He then walked to the nearest house, about a half mile away, to seek assistance. But the local resident whose home Ferrell arrived at was frightened that he was attempting to burglarize her after not recognizing him.

The resident then made a 911 call and three officers arrived at the scene. According to police accounts, Ferrell, who is African-American, acted “aggressively” and charged towards the officers. Officer Thornell Little of the Hickory Grove division of the CMPD responded with an unsuccessful attempt to fire his Taser at Ferrell. Police say that when Ferrell continued to charge toward the police, 27-year-old officer Randall Kerrick discharged his weapon several times, eventually killing Ferrell.

Monroe said that he did not believe Ferrell had threatened the woman who placed the 911 call, and that Kerrick’s use of excess force was unwarranted, according to the Charlotte Observer. No signs of alcohol were found at the scene of the wreckage, although officials said an official toxicology report will take weeks.

While the FBI keeps detailed information on the numbers and types of crimes that are committed throughout the United States, there is no comprehensive tracking mechanism for police shootings. FBI spokespeople have said there is no mandate for them to keep such statistics and that it would take an act of Congress in order to establish a database. Congress, so far, has refused to ask for one.

This story is unfortunate, and seems to illustrate 3 things about American society.

#1 Racism has NOT gone by the wayside.

Though it may seem premature to pull the race card here, this is one of those cases (alike in the Trayvon Martins case), where one has to consider the possibility. In a perfect world, the victims race will have had nothing to do with the reaction of the owner of the property, nor the course of action taken by the responding police officer.

But in reality, with the attitudes that tend to prevail in many areas of the southern states, I have to ask myself a question. That is, had the male victim been white, would the property owner have had a different reaction, upon seeing him walking up their drive way? And would the responding police officer have regarded him in the same way (apparently a threat), if he seen a white man approaching him?

#2 Gun culture

Though this case is a police shooting fatality, therefore not officially counted with the rest of the nations shootings, one still has to bring gun culture into the equation. Because, had the property owner owned a weapon of their own, its very likely they could have been the shooter.

If they were spooked enough by the man to call the police, chances are if a weapon was involved, the old adage of “shoot first, ask questions later” could very well, have prevailed.

#3 Fear Culture

Another aspect that affects a lot of people in the US, is the culture of fear. Perpetuated because it helps fuel a healthy amount of consumption, it also has its downsides. Which every once in awhile, culminate, as it seems happened, in this case. When the person was scared of someone walking up the drive.

I mention this, and make the connection here, because I have talked to a few people in these kind of situations (in various facebook forums, usually the pro gun and Christian ones ). People that do not realize it (being in the middle of it), but to my eye, are very few steps from being delusional (if not delusional). These are people, whom I would be afraid to walk in front of there homes in broad daylight, for fear that they would perceive me as a “threat”.

In most cases, these people are also proud owners of one or more guns.

Although its arguably to early to be speculative in this case, one can not help but see the simultaneities with hundreds (thousands?) of past cases, both high profile and not.

Gun Violence – My Take

Here, is a piece that I had written not long after the Sandy Hook shooting (im guessing late December of last year, early January of this year). This one was shared amongst friends and fellow forum posters on Facebook at the time, like the previous 2 entry’s to this one. This piece I like, because it captures my feelings in the heat of the moment that was the weeks following (the next piece I wrote on it, Trigger Happy, was penned 3 months later).

When it comes to the recent tragedy that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary school, and all the other mass killings in recent years, it seems to me that there is a bigger picture that most of us fail to see.

While Sandy Hook is not regarded as the worst school shooting in US history (its numbers are over shadowed by Virginia Tech), I personally think that it was indeed the worst, because of the age of the victims. 20 souls that had not even had a TASTE of life, murdered in cold blood. All 26 killed for the crime of being at the wrong place, at the wrong time.

This is a sad, frightening and angering time to be alive. And who can blame people for being angry? While I do indeed feel anger and resentment towards the right and the pro-gun crowd due to there inability to accept ANY blame for the issue at hand, I also must see the bigger picture.

Ill start this off with a few of the common arguments which we all will run into online, or elsewhere. One is that guns do not kill people, PEOPLE do. Another is that the state of mental health of the assailants should be looked at, not the state of current gun laws. While these are strictly to forward an agenda, ill attempt to see this from a higher, more broad prospective. For me, there seems to be at least 3 factors at play here, and ill start with the most talked about one, guns and gun control.

Lets start with accessibility. As I understand it, its harder to pick up a proscription in many places in America then it is to purchase a firearm. All one has to do is go on down to your favorite box store, and your set. And Americans have there “right to bear arms”, the favorite for a great many.

And there is misconception. For example, whenever the topic of gun control comes up, many automaticly assume it means the government is going to take away there guns. Which is likely not true.

In terms of the argument that guns are irrelevant to there operators, that is indeed true. But the fact of the matter is, they are the primary weapon of choice for for these crimes.

That said, an outright ban on firearms would not work, being people have legitimate uses for them, such as hunting, recreation and personal protection. With that said however, is there any reason anyone should need automatic weapons such as assault riffles? Does a civilian REALLY need an automatic weapon for hunting, recreation or personal protection? And most importantly, is your “right” to own such artillery, worth the risk of such weapons getting in the wrong hands?

When it comes to the “personal protection” argument, I personally disagree with the necessity of guns for this purpose PERIOD. There is to much chance for error. Like the fellow out in Rochestor (New York? Minnesota?) who accidentally shot his grand daughter, mistaking her for an intruder. And there is always the chance that panic will overtake you, causing the gun to be dropped, and ending in it being in there hands. Or you may not even get the chance to reach the weapon, as is it seems, is the case of Adam Lanza’s mother.

Now, my personal opinions aside, the reasonable course of action seems to be an outright ban on automatic weapons and new restrictions on the availability of guns. Since we know that guns are only a part of the problem, ill move onto the next part, Mental Health.

Something I hear all to often after these tragedy’s is “We can not make sense of the senseless”. While I am in agreement that the ACT is indeed senseless, I think that we need to know what led up to it. For me, such an act of violence does not seem like an action, but more, a REACTION.

I’ve said it many times before in years past, and ill say it again. In the news coverage of all these past tragedy’s, we always see the shooter get torn down, painted in a negative light by peers, others around them. And I completely understand. You have the RIGHT to be angry at someone who commits such a horrific act.

But I do not think that I have EVER seen followup on the past of any of the said assailants. Of which many will probably think “I don’t CARE about what happened to them. NOTHING justify s the act”. And indeed, you would still be right.

For me however, this piece of the puzzle is important, because someone doesn’t just decide to pick up a gun one day and go on a rampage, be it at a school, mall, movie theater, political rally, place of worship, where ever. There is always a cause, somewhere down the line, be it a reaction to mental illness, bullying, paranoia or who knows how many other possible variables

It is important that we get to the root cause of these explosive reactions, we we can possibly spot red flags in others, before they do anything irrational. While foresight is not always possible, if one irrational act of violence is thwarted by someone noticing a red flag in a person, then the effort into probing past assailants has paid off.

And there is a 3ed branch to this that often gets overlooked, the media coverage. While there is a need to get information out, there is no need for 24/7 coverage and the continual re-visitation of all the gory details, for weeks afterward. While it drives the ratings up for all the networks that do it, it also glamorizes something that should be despised. It posthumously makes mass-murderers infamous.

For anyone whom may be not in there right mind and full of narcissistic rage, this could be interpreted as setting the bar. He killed 10 or 15 people, how can I top THAT.

Not to mention , if you were within the circle of a victim or a survivor of such an event, I think the LAST thing you would want is the details of the event endlessly looping wherever you looked.

So I conclude that while the relationship between media driven “infamy” of past assailants acts and the acts of current assailants is unclear, the potential correlation should not be ignored.

And so thus I conclude, that there is no single factor that governs the “Why?” in this situation. Like all people, every assailant is different. But that said, it is at our peril to look only at the event, as a gauge of the person. And it is also at our peril to not take steps to mitigate future damage by future assailants, as they are only as dangerous as the weapons they posses.

Muslims Aren’t Cornering The Terrorism Market

Muslims Aren’t Cornering The Terrorism market

When Rolling Stone ran a sexy photo of accused Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar “Jahar” Tsarnaev on its cover, it sparked backlash and boycotts. Countless magazine vendors, including 7-Eleven shops, refused to sell a product that seemed to make terrorism look hot.

This publicity wave may ultimately boost Rolling Stone‘s bottom line. Any news is good news when it comes to marketing, right? And it’s also obscuring a more important question than whether it’s OK to run flattering photos of terrorists: What exactly constitutes terrorism?

Too often, the term terrorism is preferred when the perpetrators are Muslim.

When the Newtown and Aurora shootings turned out to be the work of local, disturbed, young men who didn’t happen to be Muslims, they weren’t deemed terrorists. But the local, disturbed, young men almost certainly responsible for Boston’s carnage were Muslim. That qualified them as you-know-whats.

The Tsarnaev brothers instantly became an example of the links between terrorism and Islam. The ensuing media blitz of the cruel attack that killed three and injured more than 260 people stoked that stereotype.

Meanwhile, what about that deadly explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant? It occurred just two days after the April 15 Boston Marathon attack, and got far less news coverage. The primary suspects for the blast that killed 15, injured 200, damaged or destroyed 360 homes, and flattened a public school are corporate negligence and under-regulation.

It’s a complicated story, but West Fertilizer, which belongs to Texan magnate Donald Adair, stored vast amounts of dangerous chemicals at a plant in the heart of a small community. It broke the law by failing to disclose this hazard. When the government did notice the company’s lack of a “security plan” and other signs of negligence, it imposed minor fines. Clearly, Adair required more than a few slaps on the wrist to stop endangering workers and residents in West Texas.

And what about that factory fire in Bangladesh? The owner of Rana Plaza, the building where 1,129 garment workers perished, is in jail.

But what about the people who ran the sweatshops that were torched? What about the US companies that sell the clothing manufactured there with exploited and cheap labor? What about the customers who snap up bargains when they go shopping — just about everyone in America? Who is responsible?

We could try looking in the mirror. Or take a trip to Bentonville.

Most of the companies selling the clothes that were made in the factories that burned down have promised to do something. The US government and European Union are taking some steps. But details, follow-up, and inspection remain someone else’s department.

And whether you’re talking about the disasters that befell those garment workers in a Dhaka suburb or the people of West, Texas, one thing’s for sure: The mainstream media definitely didn’t label any of the capitalists responsible as terrorists.

A week or so ago, I was talking to someone I know about the seemingly glaring hypocrisy of going after Rolling Stone for showing the Boston bomber, yet giving most other major news organizations a free pass for “glamorizing” such things as school shootings.

I now realize, that Rolling Stone was trying to communicate that the 2 brothers in question, were to the outside onlooker, just everyday american kids. I have not read the article in Rolling Stone in its entirety yet, but as far as I can see, its just saying, this surprised people close to the brothers as much as it did the rest of us. No one seen it coming.

If I focus on the Boston bombers first, this turn of events, is not really unusual. Anytime these type of situations happen, even those closest often do not see it coming. But every time, I always wonder, if its a genuine case of surprise . . . . . . . . . . . or a case of, seeing what one wants to see?

We all in our minds, whether we know it or not, develop internal images about people (even those closest to us!), how they must live, ect. I know I do, because I often times find myself surprised, to learn other aspects about people that you would never have guessed (my smarter best friend, has used hard (and I would label, dangerous) drugs?! My good looking old friend, has problems with talking to girls?!). These are just  2 recent personal examples, but I would bet it has happened to us all at one time or another.

But back to my previous train of thought . . . .

Rolling Stone threw a nice photo of the Boston Bomber on the cover, NOT to glorify or in any way condone the act, but more so, to send the message that this was a seemingly “normal” person (I hate the word, but it fits best here). This could be your classmate, neighbor, it could be YOU.

But, like the public does best lately in the age of social media and 30 second attention spans, they react before knowing all the facts. Rather then reading and getting the WHOLE story, they pick an angle and run with it until they find something else to be “offended” by (Memes and Misinformation).

I realized recently, that such events as Sandy Hook, Columbine, Newtown ect, are really terrorist acts. We may call them “shootings”, but really, what is the difference between Newtown and Boston? If terrorism is based on the number of people killed, then im pretty sure every school (and other mass) shooting in recent and past history, fits the definition.

Now if we consider these terrorist acts, and judge the media by there saturation coverage of such acts, then are they not more responsible for “glamorizing” terrorism then Rolling Stone is?

I can name several past gun “terrorists”, just off the top of my head.

– Eric Harris

– Dylan Klebold

Adam Lanza

I can relay to you, in a fair bit of detail, there crimes. And even to a degree, there pasts. Just off the top of my head.
I will admit for full disclosure, I have researched all 3 of the above in a bit of detail for a past piece, but we all have a detail or 2 about these people tucked away somewhere.

But one thing I can not do off the top of my head, is name one victim of any of there crimes. And I don’t think it would be bold to say that only people who lived in Littleton or Newtown at the time, would  be able to name at least one victim of the respective shootings.  Some of you might even ask yourselves, where is Littleton? Its a Denver suburb, home to Columbine High School.

This alone, illustrates the damage caused by the saturating media coverage of these events. The victims are not the ones remembered years down the road, the assailants are. The fact that most of us even KNOW any of the above names off the top of our head, speaks volumes.
It is no wonder that Eric and Dylan have been referenced as “role models” in hundreds of published (and unpublished) later attempts at violence (including Virginia Tech). And I have no doubt that it will be no different for Lanza, in coming years.

So I again, find it interesting that the public are so angry about the Rolling Stone cover, yet are not angry at the activities of almost every other news organization, which have been doing the same thing, only on a MUCH bigger scale. Though the face did sell magazines, there was also a reason for the image placement. A message.

What was the reason for over-covering, any chosen school gun violence situation? To make a point? To inform to the best of there abilities? No, to keep you tuned in.

Ratings mean big money.

Moving on, the “Corporate Terrorism” reference of the article is interesting.  It is not the first time I have heard the term coined, as Micheal Moore referenced it in his book “Downsize This!”.

Micheal’s use of the term, was to showcase the effects of companies “downsizing” in communities all over the US. The intro of the book had a photo of the bombed Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City, and a photo of a long abandoned auto factory in Detroit. Both looked pretty much in the same condition. And his question was “Whats the difference?”.

Though that question is not exactly clear cut on first glance, it is when you look at it with a little more depth.

When the places that have the vast majority of the jobs within these community’s close there doors, the local negative affects (aka fatalities) are not as immediate as a bomb blast, but they eventually play out. Suicides, domestic violence and addiction  are just 3 of the consequences of “downsizing”. It is in understanding this, that you will gain clarity into his question that is “What is the difference?”.

The argument of the above article on the other hand, is more with the immediate destruction caused by corporate  entities. A good example used, is the explosion in West, Texas. The affects due to the negligence in this incident, were immediate.

Both uses of the term “Corporate Terrorism” I would argue, are good and accurate.

But it is interesting, how our use of the term “terrorism”, is so seemingly restrictive. The article portrays it as a possible issue of racial and religious background of the perpetrators. Which is entirely possible, and probable.

Is it possible, that we just have not thought of expanding our use of the term?

And if we did expand our usage of the term to include such incidents as School shootings and disasters of corporate negligence, would the way we treat such events change?

Arkansas High School Arming Teachers With Guns

Arkansas High School Arming Teachers With Guns

A high school in Arkansas has decided that the best way to confront gun violence is to arm teachers and administrators with guns. The Associated Press reports that 20 teachers, administrators and staff are using an Arkansas law in order to arm themselves while working at Clarksville High School–the first time a school district in the state has armed teachers.

The law in Arkansas allows licensed, armed guards in schools. After going through over 50 hours of training, teachers and administrators will be considered guards.

“The plan we’ve been given in the past is ‘Well, lock your doors, turn off your lights and hope for the best,'” the superintendent of the school district in the town, David Hopkins, told the AP. “That’s not a plan.”

The impetus for the arming of teachers was the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut last year. The National Rifle Association has led the battle cry for armed teachers in schools.

State officials are not blocking the plan, though some are not happy about it.

Here’s how the program works: teachers are given a stipend of $1,100 to purchase a handgun and holster. The district is paying $50,000 for training and ammunition at a gun academy. The academy holds trainings that simulate school shootings. Teachers shoot “airsoft” pellet guns while students wear facemasks and jackets.

“There’s pressure on you, because you’re shooting real bullets if this actually happened,” explained Cheyne Dougan, the assistant principal at the school who will start carrying a 9mm gun while on the job. “I was nervous to start, but once it started and I was going through what they had taught us, it just took over.”

I admit that I like the idea of the “real” school shooting training. Though I still find the idea a bit, paranoid.

Im still apt to think that such shootings are but a symptom. And focusing ONLY on the prevention of gun crime, and no other aspects (mental health), is the wrong move.