• Carmen Milligan

Fake shock, blame, and murder: In the News


When I am driving, I usually listen to NPR programming. It is basically the news, but has left-of-center reporting bias. That brings me to a roundup of yesterday's news.


First, I laughed out loud several times during the "expose" of NRA conference call tapes, recorded right after the Columbine school shooting, capturing how the American gun rights advocacy group was going to react to the tragedy. But not only how they were going to react, because they had a bigger fish in the frying pan: their annual convention was a few days later and a few miles away.


Why did I laugh? Because the program host (I don't know if it was Audie Cornish or Ailsa Chang) started by saying that the NRA "huddled in private". First of all, "huddled"? An emotional word, and an interesting one used here. It invokes visions of bending over, whispering to one another, with a sense of deception. And then, "in private". Yes, it was a conference call. And it wasn't too damn private if NPR has acquired the tapes, recorded by someone on the call.


The other thing that was interesting is that the host kept verbalizing (fake?) shock that the group was trying to determine the best positioning for their convention. What does anyone expect an advocacy group to do when their only platform is used in a heinously murderous way? They are going to get together to determine their messaging. She says, a bit breathless, "Such an interesting window into this time." What is so interesting? Have you never been to a marketing meeting?


And yes, a few of the people on the conference call even disparaged some of the attendees of the convention. If you have followed the NRA from even the remotest distance, you know that some of the members are extremely radical and are against any type of compromise when it comes to owning firearms. The fact that the more moderate of the leadership sees these members as "nuts" and "fruitcakes" and "hillbillies" is not only completely honest, but also completely correct. Again, the host was incredulous.


Examining this NPR story, at just less than 8 minutes would be a wonderful session for a journalism class. In what to avoid.


Next was a story on the Oklahoma Supreme Court dismissing a $465M opioid ruling against Johnson & Johnson. In an almost unanimous decision, the court decided that the manufacturer is not liable for fueling the opioid crisis through its marketing and advertising.


It's an interesting notion to sue a manufacturer for deaths resulting from the prescribed use of its product. It is akin to suing Honda for the actions of a drunk driver. Or suing Jack Daniels Distillery for marketing their product in a way that promotes drinking. It is not the manufacturers' responsibility to ensure that people do not abuse their product. While the opioid crisis is a tragic reality, I agree with the decision.


Last is the most heart-wrenching story of all: the trial of the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man. He was jogging in a Georgia neighborhood when a 67-year-old man saw him running and assumed that he was the burglar who had been breaking into new construction. You know, 'cause they're both black men.


The old white man grabbed his .357 Magnum hand gun, his 35-year-son grabbed a12- gauge shotgun, and the two hightailed it after him. In a truck. At one point, the old man got in the bed of the truck because the passenger side had a child's car seat in it. So, they take off in the truck, armed, and at some point, the son stops the truck so the dad can get in the bed of the truck. So he wouldn't have to mess with trying to sit around the car seat. Riiiiggggghhhhhtttttt. Sounds legit (sarcasm).


They drive up beside the jogger, two wild-ass white men holding guns, and start yelling at Arbery to stop running. Would YOU stop running? Hell to the NO. But wait! By then, an unarmed neighbor had jumped in his own truck and joined the chase, even taking cellphone video of the killing. I guess so he could play it at the klan rally later.


The son pins the jogger between his truck and a truck parked on the street, getting out of the truck with his pump-action shotgun. What did Arbery then do? Tried to get the shotgun away from the wild-ass white man who had just chased him around the neighborhood in his fucking truck, pulling over and stopping once to let his crazy-ass dad get in the bed of the truck. What happened next? Crazy-ass white son opens fire. They claim self-defense.


There should be a murder charge for the son, and the father and neighbor should be charged with accessory to murder. Plain and simple. To see something out of your window and get into a vehicle to chase a person based on speculation is the stuff that civil rights movies are made of. Oh, and that scene would be in the movie to show how the crazy-white-racists-with-guns try to rationalize their hate crime when the black victim is lying in a pool of blood with shotgun casings littering the street.


With a jury of their "peers" comprised of 11 whites and 1 black, I am very curious to see how this will play out.


Basically, the news sucked yesterday.


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