Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Right To Know Everything

Americans of all colors and creeds have a right to know everything about American unclassified issues.  By the same token, reporters of print, radio, television  --  and now even the internet  --  have the responsibility to show the entire story, no matter how they feel about an issue.  Bias in reporting has long been a no-no that is now largely ignored. 

I experienced a certain level of rage watching the video of Walter Scott (a black man) being shot in the back by Officer Michael Slager (a white man) when the video surfaced recently.  The officer was claiming Scott had fought him for his Taser, but the video I saw showed no such struggle.  To all intents and purposes all the man did was get out of the car and flee the scene.  And the "yes, but" was that he had warrants out for failure to pay child support.  Well, duh, he won't be paying any child support now, will he?

Then, Time magazine, April 20, 2015, shows several still shots from the video including one that shows Scott struggling with the officer as he reached for his Taser or gun.  Folks, it does give one pause in the righteous indignation.  Scott did resist arrest by fleeing  --  and he did get into a physical scuffle with the arresting officer.

And for what?  Over back child support?  The issue was not worth a violent encounter at all.  Yes, it was regrettable that Scott is classified in the vernacular as a dead-beat dad, but the violent end defeated the purpose of the warrants.

What was presented in the video I saw shows a man totally innocent of anything save fleeing the scene and a police officer shooting him repeatedly in the back.  Now why is it important to see the struggle over the weapon?  I repeat remarks I made in earlier blogs.  When you resist arrest and struggle with officers, in the very least, you get their defensive system activated.  Until tested, even the officer, much less you, has no idea the limits of his self-control.  His fear is very real.  He goes into fight or flight mode to save himself.  If he flees, he risks being seen as a coward.  If he chooses to stay and fight, can he control his response?  I repeat, even he doesn't know until tested.  And if an officer really is a racist, resisting arrest just gives him an excuse.  If he says to the ground, drop.  Hands on the head?  Put them on the head.  Hands on the car?  Do it.  Give no man or woman a reason or an excuse to take you out.

And to you working in the media  --  never buy a doctored video.  Never, ever, edit one to show a particular view.  Show the entire interaction that is available or get another topic.  In the days between the video and the Time article showing a struggle, angry citizens could have pillaged Rome and the producers of the television segment could have been held responsible for a lot of death and destruction.

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