Crucifixion, Anyone? Untruths in Journalism or How We Sacrifice Humans for Our Viewing Pleasure

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We all love a good crucifixion, don’t we? It’s all we can do to stop from gasping and cheering as we look on at the criminals hung before us. Finding satisfaction in watching folks pay their debt to society seems to be part of the human condition, however, the other part of the human condition we often fail to remember is sometimes those debts were never really owed. Sometimes the wrong person is prosecuted, and what’s equally as bad, many times the media convicts a person before they’ve actually been accused of a crime, just as happened this week with Jared Fogle.

Just as Danny Funt mentions in his Columbia Journalism Review  article, when the media published this week that Fogle had many instances of contact with children, the underlying connotations are “startlingly presumptive”.  They cannot say in so many words that Fogle is a child molester, but they can definitely intimate that idea for the world at large to see and absorb. The story then changes from what is really happening to whatever some large mouthed media guru would like it to be.

Social media was awash with Fogle news stories claiming his affiliation with his accused colleague was more than just business. There were stories claiming he must be guilty of harming children  and jokes even surfaced. What my newsfeed lacked were any real intelligent pieces bringing the public back to the realm of reality where a man is still considered innocent until a court of law convicts.

What I saw this week were thousands of people who, up until this week, were average citizens just like myself, but upon reading Fogle’s unfortunate story, attained their PhDs in criminal justice and law with a few clicks of their chosen news carriers and wiki links.

Fogle has not to this day been arrested or indicted, and yet folks sans privy to the minute details of his case hoisted him up on the cross, anxious to drive the last nail home. Jared Fogle became the media’s sacrifice to the world this week simply because the boring truth that his business associate had been in deeply disturbing trouble, but the jury is still out on Fogle just doesn’t garner too many clicks.

Nope. The media wanted another feeding frenzy, and so they ad libbed, dressing their words as a crown of thorns to sit neatly upon Fogle’s head. “Child molester?” “Kill him.” And so they did.

Sadly, we may never hear whether Fogle’s story ends happily. Retractions and apologies don’t make front page news. We will only know the outcome if the media can walk us up onto a sacrificial Hill of Shame when and if Fogle is, in fact, indicted. Until then, the media is happy to spin its own tale of what many will assume to be truth because it was on Facebook, Twitter, or the news.

There is little ethical journalistic reporting anymore. No one wants a feel-good story, or even just the plain old truth. Everyone wants Hollywood, and until we actively call for truth in reporting, we will continue to see humans sacrificed by the media, deserving or not.

Is Fogle guilty? Hell, I don’t know. When Quantico decides to confer with me, I’ll let you all know. Until then, I assume what I know is too little to decide his fate in court, on tv, or on social media.

(Image source:http://resources.alljobopenings.com/jared-fogle)

Understanding Racism and the Perpetuation of Racial Stereotypes: Why Did Ferguson Happen?

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Today, a friend shared a video of a speaker in her UU church. Although I didn’t know it before I began watching, I needed desperately to see this video. The message was so profound, I was nearly in tears when it ended.

The speaker began to highlight some recent hot topic events, including what is happening in Ferguson. His message reached beyond guilty/innocent, and into the depths of why we are even experiencing this atrocity—something I believe we should address head on until it is no more.

He spoke of the racial stereotypes embedded in our collective mind so deeply that we often act before our better judgment changes our actions. These stereotypes of which he spoke are age old. They didn’t come about by any truth, but were perpetuated during what is known as the postbellum period in the United States.

That time of reconstruction after the Civil War found many with a sour taste in their mouths. They were upset they’d lost the right to own slaves—their source of profit. So, they concocted a string of lies to scare people into discriminating against people of color in order to keep people of color in indentured servitude. Some of those lies were created out of fear—former slave owners really thought slaves would revolt and kill them if freed. What we see today in our media is an outgrowth of the web of lies these angry, fearful white southern sympathizers created.

In the documentary film Ethnic Notions by California Newsreel, we are shown several stereotypes created to defame African American people, as well as other people of color. Early filmmakers concocted images of African Americans who were “lazy,”  “shiftless,” “violent,” and African American women who are not sexually attractive. Each of these stereotypes served a purpose.

By showing African Americans to be less than the ideal human beings and perpetuating prejudices, white Americans could retain the control they so desired. Beyond that, these stereotypes also created a group of “others” who barely functioned as “true Americans,” therefore making it “acceptable” to exclude them from the “in” group. These stereotypes were the bedrock of Jim Crow laws—the dastardly laws enacted to form segregation, justify lynching, and the other atrocities that happened pre-Civil Rights Movement.  Why would we still subconsciously submit to these false stereotypes? Have you ever watched TV?

In the media, nearly every person of color fits into some stereotype. African American men are portrayed as either only successful because they are athletes, or lazy criminals with no job. Moreover, no matter which role they portray, they’re shown to be violent. We, then, are subliminally told to fear them, not to admire them, and definitely not to respect them.

African American women are often portrayed as having children they do not want—or worse, need. They are shown to be loud mouthed, disrespectful, and either sexually unattractive or promiscuous. In that way, white men would never “want” to be with them sexually, and if they are with them, it is because the women are “giving it away”—the men are led on by sexual prowess and promiscuity. Sadly, this stereotype was born of the “Mammy” figure in order to cover the sins of white men who raped African American slave women.  Male or female, these stereotypes are dangerous and damaging to the African American community. Yet the media perpetuates them over and over for us to view—although this is improving, somewhat.

Bringing this back to the issue of Ferguson, Missouri and the death of Michael Brown, we can see that we cannot separate this tragedy from racism. What happened there is so deeply intertwined with racism that we cannot tear them apart. Although people want to deny that and argue only that Michael Brown was a “criminal,” a “thug” who “got we he deserved,” we must ask ourselves why Darren Wilson thought it necessary to use deadly force. For one, he was not carrying a Taser—a fact released after the grand jury decision, but why did he think he needed to shoot and kill Michael Brown, a young man who was unarmed and who had not committed a violent crime such as murder?

By his own account, Wilson was afraid. He thought Brown was a “demon”.  This man towering near 6’4” and 210 pounds, a man who was carrying a gun and had access to call in back up, feared an unarmed teen—a Black teen. But why? Was it so embedded in Wilson’s subconscious that black men are “demons,” that they want to kill all white men, that his better judgment was lost?  Is this the world we have created, and continue to perpetuate? Are we going to continue to allow groups like the KKK to feed this toxic disinformation to us?

We need to remember from where these stereotypes are born—they are born from hate filled white men, who feared loss of their patriarchal power, and sometimes even their lives, to those they had enslaved for hundreds of years. These stereotypes have no scientific basis—ethnology was disproved decades ago. We must end these lies in order to save lives and procure peace.

If you take nothing else from Ferguson, please at least recognize why this tragedy happened, and why it happens over and over again. It’s not just about one police officer, one child killed, or even one community at odds with itself. This is about an entire group of people seeking no more than the same rights we white people enjoy every day. This is about understanding our fellow human beings as actual human beings who are as capable of being moral and upright as we. We cannot let this fade away, known only as “that time some protesters set some buildings on fire”. No. We need to make this known as the time we all finally came together to change our world—both black and white—for the better. If we want to prevent more Fergusons from happening, if we don’t want more parents to feel the pain the parents of Michael Brown are experiencing, then it’s time to demolish the walls we’ve built, once and for all. Let’s put Jim Crow to rest. It’s long past time to say goodbye to him, the only real demon here today.

Tonight on TV 11-09-14

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Because I’m too sick to write about anything truly important, let’s talk about tonight on TV.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta Season Premier

My guilty pleasure (Don’t Judge) is the Real Housewives franchise. Tonight’s season premiere of The Real Housewives of Atlanta has been much anticipated with the news of Apollo Nida’s prison sentence making its rounds on social media in past weeks. All I can say about tonight’s episode is: hold onto your hats for this season because all the drama!

Poor Phaedra. Her love, Apollo, disappointed her so much. Here she is out working, going to school, raising babies, and loving him, and he’s just out bilking millions from folks. I love that Phaedra is so strong to make the hard decisions and stay composed for her sons. Many women could take a few lessons from her.

I have to say, I don’t know Apollo’s circumstances, and I’m not too judgy because I sort of love Apollo, too. I mean, he’s sketchy as shit, but damnit, he seems nice enough. (Not to mention he has alllllll the hotness.) But seriously, Apollo seems like a loyal dude, honestly. I’d be his friend….not like a send him money in prison kind of friend, but I’d write him a letter or something.

Loyalty is in question, however, concerning Phaedra, but honestly, I get what she’s doing, too. Her name and business is at stake. When you’re trying to establish a business, you don’t need people thinking you might be involved in some shady shit like Apollo was involved with. And let us not forget she is an officer of the court. Her clients rely on her being responsible and trustworthy. I don’t know if I’d feel right retaining an attorney who had dealings with someone involved in criminal activity unless she was representing them. There is also the fact she’s raising two little boys. They have to know criminal behavior is not acceptable. If they see mommy condone it, then they’re going to believe it’s okay.

I feel horrible for Apollo. It made me sad to see him standing alone on what must have been a terrifying day. On the other hand, he had to know the risk he was taking. This isn’t his first whirl around the prison block. He gambled and he lost, simple as that. Unfortunately, it looks like it might cost him his family—not to mention a professional future and 8 years of his life (5 with good behavior).

I have no idea how stable their marriage was. I don’t know what went on when the cameras stopped rolling. All I can say is I wish them the best, and that I hate to see Atlanta’s best looking couple breaking.

Miss Nene Leakes. Does she ever not shine? I love her so much. No matter where the cards fall, she picks them up and moves on. Haters gonna hate, and Nene’s gonna do her thing regardless. I can’t wait to see how this season unfolds with the tension surrounding her and other cast-mates. Loved her look on Watch What Happens Live tonight, also.

It’s so great that Kandi and Todd finally tied the knot no matter what Mama Joyce said. I’m sure Kandi wouldn’t like anyone hating on her mom, and I’m not really hating on her….I love me some Mama Joyce, but she seriously needs to chill out for a minute. Todd seems like a great guy, and Kandi is more than happy with him. It seems to me like Joyce would be happy to see her daughter happy. But we all know how moms can be—too much time, too little to do. So, there they are all up in our business.

I don’t have much to say about Cynthia or Kenya. To me, Cynthia needs to reevaluate her friendship with Kenya. Kenya just wants her fame, and she’s going to use Cynthia now to try to work her way into being someone relevant. She’s not. She won’t be, but she damn sure will try. Better listen to Nene, Cynthia.

The Walking Dead

In other less “reality TV” news—was anyone else snoozing through tonight’s Walking Dead episode? I’m sorry, but other than Glen and Maggie, this group annoys and bores me.

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I think we all pretty much knew Eugene was no super scientist, and his creepy peeper scene tonight was too much. Okay, Creeper McPeeper, now that we know you’re meaningless can you just go stand over there and let us get back to some Daryl? Can we go check on Beth and Carol now?

Abraham is now a man without a mission, but at least he’s not the dead weight Eugene seems to be. I just want Glen and Maggie to find the group, help save Beth, and be done with the weirdos. I also want next week’s episode to redeem the snoozefest that was this week’s. And hey, we all know that pesky mid-season break thing will be coming soon. So it better get back to good quick.

To all my fellow #RHOA and #TheWalkingDead fans—thanks for reading. See you next week on Twitter—follow me for live tweet convo!