Tuesday, September 8, 2015
Misrepresenting and Stereotyping Black Lives Matter while ignoring solutions
The media has been having a field day with the video of Black Lives Matter protesters chanting “Pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon,” using it to demonize the protest movement without putting it in it's full perspective. They have done little or nothing to report on the root causes of crime and how to prevent it nor have they done much if anything to try to understand why they might have been so angry with police. There have been numerous stories about police brutality and shootings coming out one after another and thanks to grass roots efforts they're finally getting more attention, even in the traditional media that is beginning to realize that if they continue ignoring it they will lose their audience to alternative media outlets.
They have even criticized the protesters for chanting this while the police were protecting them, or so the media and conservative critics say, over and over again. The police are, of course supposed to protect citizens as part of their job description; however the way they protect them is based on laws that provide an enormous amount of preferential treatment to one segment of society, primarily campaign contributors, at the expense of the rest of society, especially the poorest, including minorities, which often get the least protection and are subject to the worst economic inequality.
Even if the media does spread enormous amounts of propaganda about the police protecting people equally those that are routinely targeted by the police instead of being protected by them know it isn't true.
This isn't limited to police shootings. When there are protests about the destruction of the environment, even when there is evidence that corporations are profiting off of pollution that kills thousands, instead of preventing the environmental destruction they arrest the protesters. When they ship jobs overseas to suppress wages and there are protests instead of addressing legitimate concerns they arrest protests. When there are protests about outrageous and abusive labor practices, instead of addressing legitimate concerns they arrest protesters.
One example after another where poor are not receiving nearly as much protection as the propaganda indicates and the police, even good ones that intended to protect people equally, are being used to enforce a rigged system. what receives little attention in the media is that some of the good police do speak out in favor of reform although they aren't nearly as outspoken of the Black Lives Matter movement because they face retaliation from a political system that caters to campaign contributors.
If the public understood this then it would be understandable that people who live with this all their lives might get angry. Unfortunately the media is ignoring an enormous amount of background information they rarely cover at all.
They're also latching onto a couple of the highest profile shootings of police and glorifying them without trying to find out the most effective way to prevent shootings of both police and citizens, including black lives which are disproportionately targeted. The rhetoric coming from the media strongly implies that there is a shocking increase in shootings of police, perhaps even an epidemic. This conclusion is based on a very narrow look at statistics while ignoring the vast majority of historical shootings of police. They only compared shootings for 2014 and 2013 and found an increase.
In a previous post, The threat to police is greatly exaggerated I checked the statistics and found that 2013 had the lowest number of shootings of police in more than sixty years and if you look closer on a per capita basis it was about as low as it has ever been. In order to find statistics that are even close you have to go back to the Civil War era and even then they weren't much if any lower per capita. The highest rates by number were in the 1920s and 1970s; however per capita the 1920s were much worse since the population was much lower then.
For a long time I didn't see the media mention these statistics at all, while covering selective statistics that made it seem like a dramatic increase compared to 2013; however recently they did briefly mention some of these statistics. They didn't repeat them often though and the propaganda making it seem like a dramatic increase continues to be repeated over and over again drowning out the more accurate statistics that only a few pay attention to. The increased threat to police is a media creation; however, by refusing to report on the root causes so they can be prevented, it is conceivable that the threat could become real.
Not that I think it isn't still a problem and that there is a chance at reversing this trend but misrepresenting the history and refusing to look at why the figures have been going down and what other causes could be causing it to reverse, at least temporarily. Looking at the numbers raises the question about whether the bigger increase might be the rhetoric from the media not actual shootings. If they did a better job reporting on root causes and decisions were made on that it is virtually guaranteed that more could be done to keep the numbers going down for both shootings of police and shootings by police, even more.
We don't actually have as thorough records for people killed by police since the government hasn't been tracking it very well, if at all; and it is only recently that grassroots efforts have done a much better job, which might give the impression that police killing are on the rise. However without thorough data from past decades there is no way of knowing whether it is rising or not.
Regardless of the past statistics there is enough evidence to educate the public about contributing causes of crime and how to prevent them. If the media did a better job educating the public and the political establishment used this evidence to make decisions then there should be no doubt that shootings of police and by police can be dramatically reduced, in additional to other murders and violent crime. I did a series of posts about Contributing causes to crime and how to prevent them over the past several years that explored these including Ignored evidence linking corporal punishment, poverty and crime grows and Politicians increase crime; Grass roots efforts reduce crime; Politicians steal the credit. these include rough statistical reviews of my own, which aren't peer reviewed however they also include additional studies that have and they come to similar conclusions.
Unfortunately this research doesn't fit in a thirty second sound bite or on a bumper sticker. If we had a credible media instead of appealing to emotion with propaganda they would take the time to explain things, at least to those willing to listen; and there are a lot more of them than the media implies; not only that if they provided good education the number of people willing to listen would almost certainly increase dramatically. Instead they use infotainment to increase ratings and sell deceptive ads for maximum profit regardless of the best interests of the public.
Instead they use reporting on this as entertainment like Brooke Baldwin interview where she confronts a representative of the Black Lives Matter movement from Minnesota with an accusatory tone as if the video of this chant is all there is to it in #BlackLivesMatter Organizer, Ex-DEA Agent Clash on CNN Over ‘Pigs in a Blanket’ Chant. (08/31/2015) It is difficult if not impossible to explain all the details behind it in the short time they allow for any given segment, especially when it is set up to be a one way interview; however after the initial shock Rashad Turner managed to get a few points in about how this doesn't reflect the whole movement and that much much more black people were arrested than whites even though they're the minority and that they're more likely to be killed by police. he was more respectful than the ex-DEA Agent who seemed much more confrontational.
There didn't seem to be nearly as much concern with the rhetoric that David Katz came out with accusing the shooter in Texas of being racist and implying that it was incited by the Black Lives Matter movement. As far as I know they don't have evidence to indicate that and he even admitted that it was to early in the investigation to determine that, saying that if people from the Black Lives Matter movement accuse police of being racist that he should be able to accuse the shooter of being a racist.
Another Sheriff from managed to come up with rhetoric that was much worse, yet the media didn't pounce on this nearly as much. According to #BlackLivesMatter New Chant: ‘Pigs In A Blanket, Fry ‘Em Like Bacon!’ Watch Sheriff Clarke PUNCH BACK! (09/01/2015) Sheriff David Clarke said, “I’m tired of hearing people call these people black activists, they’re not activists, this is black SLIME, and it needs to be ERADICATED from the American society and the American culture.” and he added, “I need every law abiding person in the United States of America to stand up and start pushing back against this slimeness, this filth, that’s disparaging the American law enforcement officer within these communities … demand these organizations get out of their town, there’s no room for it!”
He did absolutely nothing to try to figure out the root causes of crime that leads up to escalating conflict with the public; nor did he make any attempt to figure out whether any of the protesters had any legitimate complaints that should be addressed. Instead he is advising that the critics of the police abandon their first amendment rights and assume that authorities are always right in spite of the enormous amount of cases of police brutalities that keep coming out, even while there are a much smaller number of police being shot that the media is focusing on.
This rhetoric without addressing many of the contributing causes should be considered as antagonistic as the chant by the protesters. It is hard to imagine how they can consider one of them antagonistic without the other. According to the Wikipedia article about David A. Clarke, Jr he has a history of authoritarian views that aren't supported by research, including "a series of public radio ads that said citizens could no longer rely on the police for timely protection and should arm themselves." If more efforts were made to address the root causes in the studies cited above then the police would be much more able to respond to crime as it happens, since there would be much less of it.
One of the studies that I did indicated that states with better gun control have lower murder rates and it like the other studies it is backed up with peer reviewed studies that support this. In the interview that he did with Piers Morgan at that time he was asked if he had any statistics to back up his claims he said, "I don't have those statistics, I don't think we need to go there, to be honest with you." Piers Morgan responded by saying "You haven't got a clue," but the media, including Morgan, has done little if anything to inform the public about the statistics which do indicate that states with reasonable gun control have lower murder rates, and especially lower suicide rates. Sheriff Clarke has been demonizing protesters and those that shoot police as if they were one and the same, while simultaneously advocating policies that make it easier for violent people to get guns that could be used to shoot police and ignoring all the problems with the police.
The crime rates from Milwaukee, Wisconsin where Clarke is sheriff doesn't indicate that he has done the best job in the country handling crime, including murder. Murder rates and other violent crime have been going down across the country for years and when he first took office in 2002 that included Milwaukee, but it is much higher than most of the country including other big cities, rising back up to 17.3 murders in 2013 which is more than three times the national average.
It is even higher than most cities, which typically have higher murder rates, including even Phoenix Arizona which has one of the other most authoritarian Sheriff's in the country; they have a murder rate of 7.9, which is surprisingly low considering the tactics used by Sheriff Joe Arpaio. By comparison, in Madison, Wisconsin where they have much more progressive practices and David Couper was police chief for several decades before retiring they have a much lower rate, 2.1 per 100,000. David Couper (Blog, Improving Police) has dramatically different views on reform, unfortunately he hardly gets any coverage from the traditional media.
Perhaps practical solutions that might reduce crime doesn't make good entertainment that sells ads for profit.
If so we need a media that is more concerned about educating the public then making profits at the expense of the majority with their propaganda.
What is happening in the media is almost entirely propaganda instead of providing the public with the information they need to make decisions. They present the chant as if it was typical of the movement but expect us to believe that when the police get caught doing something outrageous it is a rare isolated incident. It would be just as justifiable to present a story about an Officer who shot his own patrol car, Massachusetts police say 09/04/2015 as being typical of police as it is of claiming that all Black Lives Matter protesters are calling for the shooting of police.
If police were targeted as badly as Black people they not only would call for the shooting of those that target them but already are. There has been plenty of rhetoric from police claiming that they should have more latitude to use force against people without addressing legitimate concerns and a lot of it comes from David Clarke including recent efforts to label Black Lives Matter as A 'Murder' Movement, or 'Hate Group.' (09/07/2015)
If they thought things through then they might realize that troubled people might be more enraged by the rhetoric of the police that refuse to address legitimate concerns than the people in St. Paul that hardly anyone would have known about if the media hadn't turned it into the obsession du jour. If they're so concerned about this rhetoric inciting violence why would they do that? If these troubled people saw honest efforts to address root causes of crime instead of spreading enormous amounts of propaganda they might be much more likely to reconsider extreme measures.
Edit: Since I posted this there have been growing doubts about the investigation of Lt. Joe Gliniewicz's murder. According to a Washington Post story, Coroner: Illinois police officer killed by single gunshot, (09/09/2015) the coroner "said Wednesday that he can’t yet rule whether the death was a homicide, suicide or accident." Several other reports have also raised doubts about the investigation including a CNN report that said they can't rule out "homicide, suicide or undetermined. They also said that there has been no corroboration of the report called in by Lt. Joe Gliniewicz about two white men and a black man. They claimed that people fitting this description were interviewed and released and are no longer people of interest.
I first heard about this possibility a few days after it happened from Fox News in what sounded like wild speculation, which is common in traditional media now, especially at Fox. They reported on the incident that happened about the same time in Massachusetts where a Mills police officer shot his own cruiser, then reported an update about the Illinois officer who was shot and speculated about the possibility that he might have also faked it and even committed suicide. It sounded like wild speculation at the time; and if he didn't have additional information that he wasn't reporting to come to this conclusion it was. Now, however, it is beginning to sound like a possibility and the reports on this seem increasingly questionable.
For additional information see, 'Single Devastating Gunshot Wound' Killed Fox Lake Police Lieutenant: Coroner 09/09/2015 “This whole thing is getting a little sticky as far as the cause and manner of death,” Lake County Coroner Thomas A. Rudd. One of the comments in this article says that his wife worked as a dispatcher and that standard operating procedure was that he would give a plate number before pursuit and most reports say he was a by the book cop. If this is true them most police can confirm this procedure. Also if it was a planned suicide as some people are now beginning to speculate about, a rural area would be the most likely place for him to get away with it.
Edit: no an Ex-Chicago Cop was charged with threatening officials in Fox Lake officer shooting case. 09/13/2015 One of the reports indicated that Joe Gliniewicz was shot in the torso in a manner that might have been extremely awkward. Many of these reports don't seem to have the best credibility but this investigation is beginning to look more suspicious.