Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Don't Let the Facts Get in the Way of a Good Story

It's unfortunate the way that pundits, politicians, and the press all like to generalize what are essentially local stories, taking sketchy preliminary information as gospel, and jumping to conclusions that they view as exemplars of broader truths. This happens again and again, from the Duke lacrosse matter to Tawana Brawley, Terry Schiavo, and now Treyvon Martin.

Often, what appears to be one particular narrative starts to unravel as new facts emerge. Tawana Brawley was raped by a gang of white men - except that she made it up. The Duke lacrosse team raped a young black woman - except that, as the facts emerged, the victim turned out not to have been victimized. Terry Schiavo's husband was happy to pull the plug on his comatose wife to get an insurance payoff and to live with his new girlfriend - except that the facts were a little more complicated than that. And these examples, as false or loose with the facts as they all were, were intended to be little morality tales for a larger agenda.

Now we have another essentially local story - neighborhood watch guy shoots and kills young man - that is national news, used to support any desired narrative, from "white people get away with murder" to "we need more gun control laws" to "young black men shouldn't wear hoodies." And yet the facts and allegations change from day to day. People try to shape and take control of the narrative even as key facts are in dispute. In a nation that places high regard on due process and the rights of the accused, we're happy to condemn the shooter as a trigger-happy vigilante or the victim as a vicious hoodlum without regard to what really happened. People like race-baiting hucksters Al Sharpton - how, in God's name, after the Brawley hoax, is he taken seriously by anyone? and hiring him should be beneath even MSNBC's standards - and Spike Lee - who apparently tweeted an incorrect address for the shooter, thereby endangering the woman who lives at that address fan the flames of feelings of racial injustice. It's a potentially explosive issue, but these pundits don't care about finding the truth, only about maximizing their fifteen minutes of fame by exploiting a tragedy.

Shame on them.


Anonymous said...

Excellent post and far more sensible than anything we've heard from either "side" on this tragedy. The way the media and politicians will feast on this is so predictable and the consequences so unfortunate that it is sickening.

Rhianon Jameson said...