Sunday, January 09, 2011

Shooting Rampage In Arizona, Bad Reporting And A Even Worse Sheriff

Yesterday was a horrific day for the people of Tucson, Arizona as a deranged gunman opened fire at a congressman's political event and killed six people. Included among the dead was a nine-year old girl, born on 09/11/01 and killed for no reason but being at the wrong place at the wrong time. And the most prominent among the injured was congressman Gabrielle Giffords, fighting for her life at this time.
There are no words that describe the evil of this event. What went through the mind of the suspect, Jared Loughner, is in a sense not all that important. The fact is that this one messed-up dude snapped and took his anger out on a whole lot of people. All innocent of anything this guy had in his "mind".
There are some real heroes that stopped Mr. Loughner before he could continue on his rampage. And we all owe thanks to these heroes. One being

But, there are aspects of this story that are troubling to say the least.
One, as usual, is media coverage. No, not from a bias standpoint. But a rush to be first rather than to be right.
The following is from my e-mail box from Fox News Channel:

BREAKING NEWS: Rep. Giffords shot in Arizona.
BREAKING NEWS: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords fatally shot in Arizona.
BREAKING NEWS: Shooting rampage leaves 5 dead in Arizona.
BREAKING NEWS: Doctor "optimistic" Rep. Giffords will recover.

There was everything that Rep. Giffords had died to being wounded and or not wounded. What was missing was fact. The facts were not ascertained in a way that should have been reported. But, the media reported it anyway. Because at some point, any given network or outlet could have advertised how they were first with the facts. Even if it turned out to be wrong.
What the media needs to do in these cases is not report everything that they hear or conjecture. The media needs to remember in a situation such as this, real people are involved and their families are also involved. Imagine Rep. Giffords husband hearing that his wife is dead and then a "never mind" from the media. Or the family of nine-year old Christina-Taylor green. And everyone else taken from us in this crime.
The media, I believe, did itself no favors, once again, in reporting a live event.
But the prize of buffoonery has to go to the Pima County sheriff, Clarence Dupnik.
Last evening, Sheriff Dupnik held a press conference to, supposedly, provide information about the events of the situation. Instead, Sheriff Dupnik was totally unprepared. He kept saying that five people were dead when by that time it was well known six had died. He did not want to release the name of the suspect when it was public knowledge for hours. He was rambling, unable to answer simple questions. And he admitted that he was a 74 year-old man and that he did not hear as well as he used to.
But what left me cold was taking a situation in which information should have been the key for him to pontificate about why maybe Mr. Loughner did what he did.
Sheriff Dupnik found time to say this in his news conference:

"I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what (we) see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in. And I think it's time that we do the soul-searching,"

And the good sheriff doubled-down on this thought by saying that his whole state, Arizona, was a mecca for bigotry.
Let's be upfront.
Sheriff Dupnik is a Democrat. And a pretty liberal one at that. He is one of the few law enforcement people in his state to oppose the controversial Arizona illegal immigration law, SB 1070, which was to enforce federal laws regarding illegal immigration. The good sheriff is a supporter of so-called comprehensive immigration "reform". And he said that he would not enforce the law. I guess he believes he knows best, right?
And to the heart of Sheriff Dupnik's complaint about the political atmosphere in this nation, it is nothing compared to, oh I do not know, about 1861-65. Yeah, the nation was at war with itself. It is called the Civil War or the War Between The States. No matter what one calls it, I think things were much worse then than now.
What Sheriff Dupnik was trying to suggest, I believe, is that people that are mentally unbalanced hear things a certain way and then react to it. And to some level, there may be a grain of truth in that. But to indict talk radio and television without knowing all the facts make what he said in his news conference last night a political hack statement, not an informational meeting with the media.
And, for the record, it is sort of hard to pin a direct political ideology on this guy, Loughner. He had a wide-range of favorite books from Hitler's Mein Kampf to the Communist Manifesto. And Loughner was big into believing about some nefarious plot for mind control. In reality, Mr. Loughner may have been influenced by this rouge former radio talk show host, Jeff Rense. Take a look at his website, and it is a lot of strange stuff there. And note all the talk of "mind control".
What happened yesterday was a horrible event. It is clearly the act of a deranged man that had a lot of problems. But a media so hopped up to be first and not right continues to act irresponsibly. And a sheriff that should be informing and not pontificating should be voted out in the next election. And better informed the next time he holds a news conference.
And, most important, we need to pray for all those affected by this event. And most important for the family of Jared Loughner. The price that they bear is one none of us would ever want for ourselves.

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