Saturday, May 19, 2007

More Signs of the Vigorous Racism of the Mainstream Media

I had heard about this case a couple of years ago, floating around the blogosphere, but of course, it received no mainstream media attention. Read the description of this case, and ask yourself: if victims had been black, and the rapists/torturers/murderers had been white, do you think you would have heard for weeks on end about the Wichita Massacre?
The Carr brothers, 22-year-old Reginald and 20-year-old Jonathan, already had serious criminal records when they began their spree. On December 8, 2000, having recently arrived in Wichita, they committed armed robbery against 23-year-old assistant baseball coach Andrew Schreiber. Three days later, they shot and mortally wounded 55-year-old cellist and librarian Ann Walenta as she tried to escape from them in her car.

Their crime spree culminated on December 14, when they invaded a home and subjected five young men and women to robbery, sexual abuse, and murder. The brothers broke into a house chosen nearly at random where Brad Heyka, Heather Muller, Aaron Sander, Jason Befort and a young woman identified as "H.G.", all in their twenties, were spending the night. Initially scouring the house for valuables, they forced their hostages to strip naked, bound and detained them, and subjected them to various forms of sexual humiliation, including rape and sodomy. They also forced the men to engage in sexual acts with the women, and the women with each other. They then drove the victims to ATMs to empty their bank accounts, before finally bringing them to a snowy deserted football field and shooting them execution-style in the backs of their heads, leaving them for dead. The Carr brothers then drove Befort's truck over the bodies.

They returned to the house to ransack it for more valuables. It was then they claimed their final victim, Nikki, H.G.'s muzzled dog who was beaten and stabbed to death.

Only H.G. survived (thanks to her metal hairpin having deflected the bullet), after running naked for more than a mile in freezing weather to report the attack and seek medical attention. In a much-remarked point of tragedy, she had seen her boyfriend Befort shot, after having learned of his intention to propose marriage when the Carrs, by chance, discovered the engagement ring hidden in a can of coffee beans.

The Carr brothers, who took few precautions, were captured by the police the next day, and Reginald was identified by Schreiber and the dying Walenta. Law enforcement officials ultimately decided that the Carrs' motive was robbery, despite the other aspects of the crime.
At trial, the Carrs' attorney argued that they had tough childhoods. Apparently, not tough enough to kill them, and not tough enough to put even a tiny bit of empathy with the suffering of others.

The national news media in America serve no useful function. They make no serious effort to portray the complexity of questions such as global warming; focus on sensational crimes of relatively little importance--unless the killers are black, in which case the crimes are generally ignored or excused.

If they covered no sensational crimes of little national importance only at a very low level--for example, giving coverage on the day the Duke rape case was first reported, and perhaps coverage when the case was dropped--it would not much matter if they were selective about reporting black on white crime. But to spend the time covering the Duke case--an allegation of rape--while ignoring the Wichita Massacre and these horrifying murders in Knoxville--well, just imagine if the national news media reported in lurid detail, for days on end, every rape committed by a black man against a white woman, and ignored all other rapes. You would correctly recognize that the objective was to demonize black men and foment lynching.

There's a quote often attributed to Thomas Jefferson which sounds just a bit too modern to me:
Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.
I rather doubt that the quote is accurate, but if it is, Jefferson must have said it before the "flowering" of partisan newspapers in the early Republic. (Flowers grow well in manure, and a lot of the early Republic's newspapers aren't even as polite as manure.) I'm afraid that this other quote attributed to Jefferson--which may also be incorrect--is more accurate:
The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.
UPDATE: To my surprise, both quotes are accurate. See here. The first quote is from 1787, and the second from 1807. A lot of experience in that period with a free press seems to have lowered his estimation of them.

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