published Friday, July 27th, 2012

Media loses perspective

Two recent tragedies spotlighted the absurd priorities that can guide news coverage — coverage that admittedly often reflects the increasingly warped priorities of society in general.

Here is how The Associated Press began an article about a woman whose husband allegedly stomped and killed the couple's dog and beat her with its body: "Police outside Atlanta say a woman was beaten with a dog's body in what they call one of the worst cases of animal cruelty they've ever seen."

Come again? Have we just stepped into a rerun of "The Twilight Zone"?

With all due respect to animal lovers, the main issue here is not the alleged cruel treatment of the dog but the almost unspeakable alleged mental and physical cruelty to the woman.

As a matter of law, the United States does — and should — put a different value on human versus animal life. No one ought to condone the brutal treatment of a pet. That's not in dispute. But when did the welfare of a dog come to be deemed as at least as important — to authorities, the news media or anyone else — as the welfare of an innocent human being?

Those iffy priorities were on similar display in the recent mass shooting in Tuscaloosa, Ala., that wounded nearly 20 people.

The focus after the horrifying attacks rapidly shifted from the 18 charges of attempted murder that the suspect faces to whether he is a racist.

"Witness says Alabama gunman used slur," the AP wrote in a headline used in more or less that form on news websites around the country.

"Wilkins used racial slurs before shooting," read the headline on an Alabama Fox affiliate's website.

Did he in fact utter a racial slur? We don't know.

But other than perhaps to suggest a motive, are the suspect's racial views the primary issue after a shooting that left 18 people wounded -- some of them seriously? Only some quick investigative work by police, which led them to rule out racism as any sort of key motive, prevented the predictable flood of demands for "hate crimes" charges -- as if a mass shooting were less tragic when motivated by personal animosity rather than racial hatred.

The responses to these sorts of incidents say something about our society's ability to make important moral distinctions. And that something isn't very flattering.

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Well, your priorities are certainly right on topic. A totally lost perspective. You've got to criticize a reporter, not you know, say anything meaningful about either of the real tragedies here.

It's not very flattering to you.

The dog was viciously killed. The woman? Still, fortunately alive, not that you much care. You didn't even mention that salient fact. You're much more worried that some reporter wrote something you could get upset about in a feigned bit of outrage in a tiny bit of news copy.

But let me ask you this:

When did your protests over what you think other people should feel become more important than the life of an innocent animal or even another human being?

Quite some time ago it seems.

But do keep trying to find reasons to dismiss concerns over racism. That really shows your worries. Namely an attempt to downplay racism and render it to be a fault of the person complaining.

That way you can eventually end up never having to deal with it.

July 27, 2012 at 12:19 a.m.
Yano said...

A hate crime is more severe than a similar act not motivated by hate because it affects more people and makes any crime an act of terrorism.

Burning a piece of wood is arson. Burning a cross on a black family's lawn is intended to frighten and oppress black families for miles around. Spraying graffiti on a building is vandalism. Spraying swastikas on a synagogue is an attack against all Jews. Beating someone up in a bar is assault against someone. Hunting and targeting gay people to beat up causes the whole gay community to be in fear of attack.

Hate crimes have more victims, and should therefore be punished more severely. This is obvious to most people except perhaps to those whose sympathies are rather suspect.

July 27, 2012 at 4:13 a.m.

A dog is just a dog, and the motivation to murder is unimportant. Don't get me wrong, I like dogs and am amazed by their intelligence and loyalty, but they are just animals.

Yano, your "blankets of hate" argument is dumb. I liked the part where you said burning a piece of wood is arson. Genius, those boyscouts are all raging arsonists. Don't even get me started on the strike anywhere match users.

Easy, if you want to talk about racism, explain to us all how telling an entire race they aren't good enough to compete with white people without help isn't racist. Racism would all but disappear without the liberals constantly beating that drum. It is getting old and a look at society in general proves it really isn't an issue anymore.

July 27, 2012 at 9:59 a.m.
Lr103 said...

What? FlyinPP? The motivation for murder is unimportant? What isolated island are you living on? Murder investigators always look for a motive for murder or a series of murders. Where do people like you and the author of this piece get your sense of priorities?

July 27, 2012 at 10:17 a.m.

Let me explain. If the crime is designated as a murder, the reason is unimportant. Motive has to be determined prior to calling it murder. Investigators look for motive in order to classify a death. If it is self defense, it isn't murder. The same goes for accidental death. The reason it is designated a murder doesn't make the crime any more onerous. The punishment should be the same for all murders.

July 27, 2012 at 11:34 a.m.
Easy123 said...

FPSE,

"if you want to talk about racism, explain to us all how telling an entire race they aren't good enough to compete with white people without help isn't racist. Racism would all but disappear without the liberals constantly beating that drum. It is getting old and a look at society in general proves it really isn't an issue anymore."

This is the most moronic paragraph I've ever read on this site. You are truly a fool. This paragraph alone should destroy any credibility you ever had.

July 27, 2012 at 11:56 a.m.

Why is that easy? Please explain.

July 27, 2012 at 12:02 p.m.
Easy123 said...

FPSE,

If you don't know already, explaining it won't help. You're mind has been compromised. I pity your ignorance.

July 27, 2012 at 12:07 p.m.

Typical progressive dismissal based on insults instead of substance. Pitiful.

July 27, 2012 at 12:10 p.m.
Easy123 said...

FPSE,

You have provided all the substance anyone needs with your own words. You provided the rope and hung yourself.

July 27, 2012 at 12:12 p.m.

FlyingPurpleSheepleEater, intent is very important both in investigation and sentencing. There's a reason why there are so many different kinds of murder found in the law (and even more under the banner of homicide, which is the word we should probably be using as the initial term as murder is indeed more specific). And just the punishment should not be the same for all homicides, even just limited to "murders" it's still inappropriate, that's the kind of single-minded thinking that leads to more injustice. Judges and juries actually are instructed to consider the intent of a crime for a purpose.

But your attempt to blame LIBERALS for being racist ones is just hysterically funny. I know, it's the dogma of the conservative movement to try to use some fancy sophistry to try to say "Oh no, we believe they can compete, that's why we say giving them a hand up is degrading" in some sort of pseudo-Darwinian philosophy.

A real look at society shows racism, and that the right-wingers just want the complaints to go away so they can discriminate in peace.

But keep trying, it's a hoot.

July 27, 2012 at 12:40 p.m.
Stewwie said...

sadwitholdbulbs,

Here's a scenario for you...Person A kills Person B because he doesn't like Person B's race. Person C kills Person D because he doesn't like the shirt that Person D is wearing. All other things equal, should Person A and Person C receive different sentences? (Hint: The answer is no.)

July 27, 2012 at 1:54 p.m.
Easy123 said...

Stewwie,

It would actually depend on what the shirt said or had on it. But I don't think there are many people being murdered over their t-shirts.

You're reaching.

July 27, 2012 at 1:58 p.m.

Yeah Stewwie, it has to be more complicated or you won't be able to slip any injustice or favors in.

All the cloudiness and complication caused by hedging justice with shades of grey is what causes most of the injustice in our country. It doesn't matter what the shirt said. It is covered in the 1st amendment. Your shirt can say anything you want it to. Is Easy saying he thinks it's O.k. to kill someone if you don't agree with their Tshirt?

July 27, 2012 at 2:36 p.m.
Yano said...

If you kill your poker buddy in a fit of rage, you cause one death. If you lynch an "uppity" black man, then you cause one death, and IN ADDITION to that you terrorize a community.

More crime, more time.

Again, most people understand this.

Also, the law takes motive into account all the time, that's why there's a difference between 1st degree and 2nd degree murder and reckless homicide.

July 27, 2012 at 2:37 p.m.

Terrorize a community? Only if the community is corrupt and there are no consequences... Kind of like fast and furious and the dead border patrol agent. Maybe even the pass the black panthers got when they intimidated people at the polls. That is terrorizing a community.

July 27, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.
Easy123 said...

FPSE,

Are you having reading comprehension problems?

This was the question presented by stewwie:

"All other things equal, should Person A and Person C receive different sentences?"

If the shirt had some type of pro-gay, pro-black/white/etc./anti-women picture or slogan on it, then the murder could be seen as a hate crime.

Would you like to try again?

July 27, 2012 at 2:42 p.m.

Murder is murder regardless of intent. The person is no more or less dead regardless of the intent.

July 27, 2012 at 2:44 p.m.
Yano said...

Fplmnoop

Lynching only terrorizes a corrupt community??? Because lynching is always a response to corruption and never motivated by hate?

Wow. Do gays deserve to be bashed? Did the Jews deserve the Holocost?

I can guess why you don't want longer sentences for hate crimes!

July 27, 2012 at 2:50 p.m.

Hate crime? That is stupid. The term hate crime is based in the P.C. stupidity of self censorship. I don't ascribe to Political Correctness. I could care less if you don't like what I am saying as I am sure you could care less if I don't like what you say.

Crime should not be judged by how much hate someone had before they commited it. That is stupid. The crime isn't the hate involved, it was the action taken because of the hate. It is still the same crime even if there was no hate at all involved. I believe that was the point Stewwie was making.

Yano seems to be the one with the comprehension problems. Let me explain it to you a little more simply. When a crime is committed and the person is not punished for it, it terrorizes a community because there is nothing to stop that person from doing it again. If the criminal is caught and punished for the crime, there is no terror for those who weren't victims.

July 27, 2012 at 3:21 p.m.
Leaf said...

I don't think hate crimes or affirmative action are black and white issues as some of the commenters here have portrayed. I'm fairly liberal, but I'm also of the opinion that affirmative action has probably served its function and in many cases should be dropped. There is still some prejudice, but nothing like in the sixties. Now it might be better to just ignore differences instead of highlighting them.

The concept of hate crimes sentencing is a fairly new one, and while I understand it, it does sometimes get applied with a broad brush. Why not just handle it in sentencing as usual? The step between a regular crime and a hate crime is a huge one in terms of penalties, but the actual crime might be a gray area that could go eather way.

Sometimes the law is a bludgeon. Take the case of statutory rape. Under the law, an eighteen year old girl having sex with her seventeen year old boyfriend is the same as a forty year old man having sex with his fourteen year old neighbor. Or the three-strikes law. There are people in jail for life for three small nonviolent offenses alongside murderers and rapists.

In general, I'm not in favor of legislators trying to game the system to force judges to sentence in particular ways. A lot of times those lawmakers are just grandstanding and trying to seem tough on crime in an election year, or it's a knee-jerk reaction to some sensationalist news story.

July 27, 2012 at 3:27 p.m.
Yano said...

I agree that crimes should be punished based on the result of the crime. Stealing ten thousand dollars should be punished more harshly than stealing a dollar.

A so-called hate crime is a crime that is worse than a similar crime because it does more damage, causes more harm, hurts more people.

Furthermore, motive makes a difference with all kinds of crime. If you run over someone accidentally with your car, you will be punished less harshly than if you run over someone on purpose, even if your victim is equally dead in both cases. Premeditated murder is punished more than reckless homicide.

Crime in general "terrorizes" all potential victims. But so-called hate crimes aimed at a group disproportionally terrorize, harm, victimize that group. If you do that to people on purpose, you are causing an additional harm on purpose and deserve additional punishment.

No one should be punished for hating, only for making groups feel fear or terror, an act that we know is motivated by hate.

July 27, 2012 at 3:35 p.m.
JustOneWoman said...

When there is a concerted effort to hate men, and men start getting harrassed, we will see some outrage about hate from these jerks. The trouble is it has never affected them. Women make up 52% of our population. More women are running for office this election cycle than ever before. I have a feeling it is going to start affecting them soon. So let's just be patient and watch the schooling of these neo cons. It will be fun!

July 27, 2012 at 4:14 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Well said, FPSE.

July 27, 2012 at 4:19 p.m.

JOW, What world do you live in? The white male is the most hated and maligned creature on this planet. You must have mixed your genders up. Just look at which member of society isn't covered in affirmative action. Hint: It isn't women.

July 27, 2012 at 5:11 p.m.

Leaf, Great point on the statutory rape issue. Common sense would go a long way toward making our system fair. It is a shame that we punish so many people with the letter of the law instead of considering the spirit of the law.

July 27, 2012 at 5:22 p.m.

Stewwie, well given that person C seems insane, I'd say that person C needs mental health treatment and merits a different sentence than Person A, though they may still end up in lifetime confinement. Oh wait, you're going to say he's completely sane? Then why did he kill the person? Racism has a good bit more recognition and understanding (except for those willfully ignorant who choose to pretend it is the victims fault or other self-delusions), whereas your second example? Lacks details. You're just positing a strawman. A terrible one.

Really, you come up with a bare analogy like that and you expect the reasoning to be persuasive? Hardly. It's actually demonstrative that you haven't considered the situation.

Fortunately for the rest of us, the law has. There's a lot more situations than just your concocted example. Let's say that you killed somebody because of their shirt, namely it had a picture of a deer on it, and you were hunting. Would you punish that person the same as somebody who exploded in rage on their spouse.

Far-fetched? Considerably less than your example.

Leaf, actually, no, statutory rape is not locked into that example of yours. There are many different laws in many places, some of which are refined enough to consider that situation appropriately. If you want to complain about some specific jurisdiction that operates under the terms you presented, fine, but you are mistaken if you believe it applies everywhere. Tennessee, for example, has a four-year consent window.

Believe it or not, some thought has gone into things in some places. I'm not saying the laws are perfect, but there is consideration of various problems.

FPSE, ah, trying the persecuted white male strategy. Keep trying to push that myth on us.

July 27, 2012 at 6:03 p.m.
Stewwie said...

[Stewwie, well given that person C seems insane, I'd say that person C needs mental health treatment and merits a different sentence than Person A, though they may still end up in lifetime confinement.]

I would argue that both Person A and Person C are insane. Someone who chooses to murder somebody (regardless of the motive) is not sane.

[Really, you come up with a bare analogy like that and you expect the reasoning to be persuasive?]

I think that it helped with the discussion.

[FPSE, ah, trying the persecuted white male strategy. Keep trying to push that myth on us.]

What part of what FPSE said was incorrect?

July 27, 2012 at 8:15 p.m.

Then your definition of insanity is not congruent with the law or science.

But no, it didn't help with the discussion, except to show how useless such a flawed attempt is.

And FPSE simply claimed that the white male is the most hated and maligned. That would be the myth and it's false. There is no part of it that is based on any facts, so there's no way to segment it out either.

Sorry.

July 27, 2012 at 8:59 p.m.
Stewwie said...

Webster defines Sanity as: "The quality or state of being sane; soundness or health of mind." The mind of a murderer is anything but sound or healthy. And no, you don't have to be medically diagnosed to be considered insane.

So you disagree with FPSE's statement about the white male. So how can you call it a myth and false if you have no facts or figures to support your position either?

July 28, 2012 at 12:01 a.m.

Actually a medical diagnosis is required, in this context, as the law doesn't allow for just random declarations of rhetoric, but requires precision for a reason. If you want to declare as a principle that you consider it to be insane to murder, well, you can use that rhetoric if you like. It won't find its way into a courtroom. Because it's just too imprecise. As I said, not congruent with law or science.

And I gave FPSE exactly the same effort he presented. He claimed persecution with no attempts at facts or figures, so what exactly am I to refute? When somebody just declares something, without cause or reasoning, it's rather impossible to do anything further, though in this case, since it's a recognized bit of hyperbole, it's easy to dismiss due to its character. And yes, you can find people who have refuted the "facts" presented to perpetuate that myth, but since FPSE didn't even bother with the "facts" I won't bother with them here.

July 28, 2012 at 1:13 a.m.
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