Monday, December 17, 2012

An Unexpected Angle...

I no sooner publish a post about peace taking over my life than the news of the Sandy Hook murders slashes open my envelope of serenity and dumps me unceremoniously back into reality.  A reality that includes the incomprehensible scenario of a troubled twenty-year-old BOY taking up arms and ammunition the type of which belong only in a war zone, shooting his way into a primary school and spraying two classrooms full of first-graders with enough tissue-torturing bullets to silence twenty-six hearts in less than fifteen minutes.  And then turning a gun on himself.  I almost feel, in some minute way, responsible.  After all, what business did I have declaring “peace” in a world where such a thing is possible?

And if the event was horrific, one could almost use the same word to describe the manner in which it was described to the public. If you gleaned your news of the murders from the internet, as I did, you quickly became aware that it was almost impossible to discern the real story from the rumors, conjecture and downright sensationalism.  American journalism has utterly abandoned time-honored methods of responsibly reporting a breaking story in favor of bombarding the public with any and every crumb of information—true or false—which might possibly give a news outlet the dubious honor of scooping its rivals. 

So much of what was originally reported from the crime scene—that the shooter’s mother was a teacher at the school, that the shooter had been allowed into the school unmolested because he “had ties to the school”, that the shooter had been armed with two handguns and left his semi-automatic assault rifle in his car, even down to the identity of the shooter himself—was erroneous.  Hours later, we learned that the mother—the shooter’s fist victim—in reality had no ties to the school; that the shooter had shot his way into the building; that he had in fact done most of the killing with this rifle he had supposedly left in his car; and that he was originally identified as his older brother because he had carried his brother’s ID.  (Imagine being the brother and finding out that you have been identified as the man who just shot up an elementary school in your old home town.)

Basically, our intrepid news media handed us a 24-hour live stream of utter crap.  Every single outlet, from NPR to CNN to FoxNoise.  I wouldn’t have merely received an “F” on this kind of garbage in my high school journalism class.  I probably would have been kicked out of the program.  The media blatantly betray the public trust when they garble the facts so horribly that they spend the next 72 hours trying to REeducate viewers about a story.  By that time, the boat done sailed.  The misinformation is out there; millions of people are going to base their views, possibly even future actions, upon things that never happened.  We already have enough opportunities to choose our own reality in this country.  The least we should be able to expect from our media is the accurate Who, What, When and Where of a newsworthy event. 

The mandate for accurate reporting should not be circumvented by the need for speed.  Just because we can get a story out there in the wink of an eye doesn’t mean we should.  If anything, straight facts are more vital than ever.  Because, almost as instantaneously as the news itself—certainly early on in this grinding-out-a-story-by-inches process to which our media are so addicted—the name-calling, chest-beating and finger-pointing begin, after which all sense of the proportion and magnitude of the event itself are lost.  Let us at least begin the argument with all the accurate facts at hand. 

I’ll bet you expected a completely different take on this from me.  I’ll bet you expected a passionate anti-gun diatribe to flow from my keyboard like the purifying fire of an avenging angel..  Oh…don’t think I haven’t got it in me.  In fact, I spent most of the day Friday online concocting rebuttals to the irresponsible comments of gun-lovers and 2nd amendment perverters all over the country. Egged on by the latest voice to enter the dialogue:  The one that insists that all this gun violence could be curtailed by making sure everyone acquired and carried a concealed handgun.  Oh. My. God.  But before I got into that, I wanted to get this rant off my chest.  I’ll post about the rest tomorrow. 


  1. yes. absolutely. A crazy race to see who gets the news first, who cares if it's accurate. unbelievable.

  2. It amazes me how many people still are spouting off the "facts" from hours after the shooting. They use them in whatever lame ass argument they have.