Sunday, April 21, 2013

The rocky nook with hilltops three/Looked eastward from the farms

So, what is our takeaway from the Boston bombing? Three people were killed, and over 170 people were injured. What should we do about it?

Well, Senator Lindsey Graham (belle of the ball and well-known Scarlett O'Hara impersonator) believes we should take away the rights of American citizens, skip having a trial entirely, and pull out the whips and cattle-prods.

Wonkette published a list of people who they suggested should eat a bag of dicks on the subject. But I'm pretty sure Lindsey has dreams like that, and I'm not in the business of making him happy.

Over on the openly-insane side of the argument, we have Alex Jones of the conspiracy-theory site saying that the Obama administration staged the whole thing in order to establish martial law and take away our rights. (On the other hand, a blogger at Forward Progressives makes an equally persuasive argument that Alex Jones’ desire for farm animals fuels his distrust for the government.)

Jones wasn't the only conspiracy theorist to go completely bugnuts over this whole thing. There was just too much misinformation out there for their tiny little brains to process. For one thing, the media certainly failed to do anything except look like incompetent idiots (here's a visual representation of who said what and when, if you're curious.) The most egregious lies, of course, came from publications owned by Rupert Murdoch: the New York Post, Wall Street Journal and Fox "News" Channel.

Easily the worst of those three was the tabloid NY Post, who decided to devote their front page to two bystanders who the Post implied were the bombers. Because, hey, they had dark skin, right?

One of them, a high-school track star, turned himself in to the police because he didn't want to get attacked by people who still believe that the NY Post covers the news.

Social media wasn't much help - Twitter and police scanners allowed the innocent people to end up smeared as "suspects," or sometimes, to create people who didn't exist.
Meanwhile, at 2:14am Eastern, an official on the police scanner said, "Last name: Mulugeta, M-U-L-U-G-E-T-A, M as in Mike, Mulugeta." And thus was born the newest suspect in the case: Mike Mulugeta. It doesn't appear that Mulugeta, whoever he or she is, has a first name of Mike. And yet that name, "Mike Mulugeta," was about to become notorious.
One of the things that spurred many a paranoid rant, of course, was the fact that a Saudi man was (or wasn't) taken into custody (or to a hospital, or escaped) after being seen planting a bomb (or running from the scene, or acting suspticiously), and then was released (or disappeared, or was taken up by the alien mothership).

Yes, "facts" became remarkably fluid over the course of last week.

What basically happened was a simple combination of paranoia and racism.
A twenty-year-old man who had been watching the Boston Marathon had his body torn into by the force of a bomb. He wasn't alone; a hundred and seventy-six people were injured and three were killed. But he was the only one who, while in the hospital being treated for his wounds, had his apartment searched in "a startling show of force," as his fellow-tenants described it to the Boston Herald, with a "phalanx" of officers and agents and two K9 units...

Why the search, the interrogation, the dogs, the bomb squad, and the injured man's name tweeted out, attached to the word "suspect"? After the bombs went off, people were running in every direction—so was the young man. Many, like him, were wounded; many of them were saved by the unflinching kindness of strangers, who carried them or stopped the bleeding with their own hands and improvised tourniquets....

In the midst of that, according to a CBS News report, a bystander saw the young man running, badly hurt, rushed to him, and then “tackled him,” bringing him down. People thought he looked suspicious.

What made them suspect him? He was running — so was everyone. The police reportedly thought he smelled like explosives; his wounds might have suggested why. He said something about thinking there would be a second bomb — as there was, and often is, to target responders. If that was the reason he gave for running, it was a sensible one. He asked if anyone was dead — a question people were screaming. And he was from Saudi Arabia, which is around where the logic stops.
He was cleared by the authorities. But not by social media. And he has now become another puzzle piece for the paranoid to obsess about.

And our right-wing media continues to fan the fear. We have columnists ranting in national outlets that this attack (which, as I mentioned above, killed 3 people and injured 170) was literally worse than 9/11, or the Oklahoma City bombing, or any attack ever, all the way back to the Great Flood!

Huh. If you think about it, the Biblical Flood was just another mass killing. What does that make God?... It is the Old Testament, so it could be argued that He was Middle Eastern...

Sorry. Seem to have gone off on a tangent, there...

So, what should we take away from this experience? Well, while there were more injured, there were less people killed than there were at Sandy Hook. We should probably react to this tragedy just the same way we did to that one. Just as much should get done because of this, as will get done because of that.

And maybe, just maybe, the media can get its head out of its ass, and go back to reporting facts, instead of rushing to get something (anything!) out there to the public, and to be first!

Somehow, I doubt that any of this will be the case. But we can hope.

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