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U.S. news media jumps the shark

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Remember Mama said
Ticking, ticking
Crazy boy, you’ll only wind up with
strange notions in your head
Hear it, hear it, ticking, ticking

Ticking” —  Lyrics: Bernie Taupin. Music: Elton John.

Earlier this month, a crazed gunman lets loose in Tucson — killing six, including a Federal Judge and a 9-year old girl, while wounding 14, among them his target, Democrat Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

Who’s fault was it? Who’d do such a thing?  

The answers aren’t hard to find. Jared Lee Loughner exhales psychosis — that mugshot doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence. The media should be asking questions. On a normal Saturday morning in the animal kingdom, humans in the United States of America manage to keep under wraps evil of such a brutal degree, well, unless it involves a really good parking spot or Apple is unveiling its latest product.


Who influenced him?

Out of the gate, the Tea Party is the only angle considered. Just a few hours into this nightmare, the American news media jumps the shark. Contorting a prejudicial assumption and lacking foundation in basis, an effort is made to insist the story is everything it likely isn’t. The scientific method races from hypothesis to conclusion with only strands of hope holding it all together.

Something poisoned his mind.

We learned it apparently wasn’t talk radio, Glenn Beck, partisan politics or rhetoric from either side (he was a registered independent). He didn’t vote in the 2010 election and didn’t like watching the news. From every personal account, he was unstable and the fact that he did this isn’t a surprise to those who knew him and feared what he was capable of. Many felt it was a matter of when, not if, he would snap.

It was the map — Sarah Palin’s map.

Laying the burden of responsibility on the time-honored tradition of putting ink on paper does not absolve Loughner from the crime nor does it make him a victim. This particular map was designed to take out politically vulnerable opponents before the election. To that I say, bad map. The failure of all coded commands set to engage by the intended timeline as directed from Wasilla would only verify the assailant acted without this as an influence. It’s more likely that he read something that actually interested him.

It had cross hairs over her district!

In a country of 312 million people, isn’t it to be heralded that 311,999,999 didn’t take it to mean that? You can’t find that type of agreement on anything. Odds of 312 million:1 only add to the hilarity behind the conviction that went into the claim. Someone could conceivably print bullets on a map with actual street addresses and we’d still see about 311,999,957 people remaining on the happy side of responsibility. If the mainstream media goal of taking down Sarah Palin is the same as securing Super Bowl tickets and you had a 1-in-312 million chance of winning, would you bet your house on it? Some did.

A direct line can’t be tied between Loughner and political rhetoric from the right BUT

The air leaves this sail almost immediately but the crime fit the template, so be it. Forced to abandon or dig in, they dug. The bell cannot be unrung. Volley left, volley right — fingers are pointed; positions defended; elected officials more than willing to pulse an already feisty Cuisinart. Now, instead of everyone holding hands in complete agreement that the Westboro Baptist Church should get bent, we’re tripping up over slips of the tongue that had nothing do with Tucson [CNN Apologizes For Guest Using Term “Crosshairs”]. The narrative of this individual was purely his own, unrelated to the story the mainstream media wished to tell.

You have no idea what you’re talking about. Have you ever listened to talk radio?

Raise your hand if you’ve ever been exposed to anything whatsoever — absolutely anything — and you’ve not opened fire on a crowd of people in a fit of violent anger. Unless prison readership has increased, I assume most hands are up.

The Tea Party needs to change it’s tone. This is exactly the type of anger they incite.

Loughner was politically opposed to, well, pretty much everybody. He wasn’t influenced by the Tea Party, which was also initially blamed (and later vindicated) for the bomb in Times SquareIRS plane crash in Austin, census worker hanging, New York cab driver stabbingPentagon shooter. You want it to be, we see that now. In the future, it’s difficult envisioning how you are to be believed again.

You must admit, the incendiary language coming from the right has created a hateful climate that serves as an inspiration to violence such as this. 

Some on the left would say the inflammatory rhetoric on the right is repulsive and are only using similar inflammatory rhetoric in order to better illustrate the point. Fringe elements are and always will be. It’s a “chicken vs. egg” thing to say which side started it but pointing fingers with sheer confidence only exposes true colors from a media hand that professes to be impartial and color-blind. “It certainly didn’t cause this,” Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly told Diane Sawyer. “I think you have somebody that’s really, really disturbed, possibly schizophrenic.”

You’re just not willing to connect the dots.

Suggesting influence from one to the other in this particular case would be like … in your Grammy Award acceptance speech for Best Rap Solo Performance, forcing the need to make mention of the importance “The Archies” had on you as a child.

We don’t know what type of music he listened to.

Here we go. If it’s not politically-driven, it’s heavy metal or video games, television or movies. Always the same bands too — Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Motorhead, Marilyn Manson, Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer, Judas Priest, Drowning Pool, Slipknot, AC/DC, Cannibal Corpse. It’s never the music that would truly cause someone to grab mayhem by the head and beat it to death with an iron pipe — The Carpenters, Celine Dion, Ricky Martin, Kenny G, “We Built this City” by Starship, Weezer, Sixpence None the Richer, Air Supply, Ke$ha, Al Jarreau, “Say You, Say Me” by Lionel Ritchie. And it’s the third rail to even hint a rapper’s name even if the song in question ties to an actual event that was specifically recreated in South Central as a gang initiation. No, it’s Black Sabbath and a song they recorded in 1971.

We underestimate how much words and images have meaning.

Should Target change its name? Outlaw dartboards, darts are fine. Eliminate all mapping including GPS. Should a celebrity fashion model cancel a killer opportunity photo shoot for fear she’s becoming a mass murderer? The Washington Bullets become the Wizards and DC’s crime rate actually drops (!!), although most of this has been attributed to the Wizards trading Gilbert Arenas to the Magic.

That trade stacks the backcourt for Orlando.

None of this had a thing to do with Loughner’s motives, put a gun in his hand or encouraged him to pull the trigger. Nothing changes by continuing to react the same way every time.

Did he have a favorite video game?

Oh for Christ’s sake!! Medal of Honor, Halo, Soldier of Fortune, God of War, Gears of War, Duke Nukem, Grand Theft Auto. Never Pong. Hook you and a friend to the original Pong and see which one of you is still alive after 30 minutes. Movies and video games are fantasy that real life can’t provide. In reality, kids don’t chainsaw bad guys in the groin because most don’t have access to chainsaws. You can fight characters with cattle prods, severed limbs, syringes and dispose of their bodies in a meat grinder — where else can you find access to an array of weapons like that?

Your arguments like your ideas, are small potatoes. 

Frustrated adults who aren’t as good at these violent video games as their kids should give the younger generation credit for knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. These adults should stick to Angry Birds and Farmville and enough with the high score notices on Facebook. That type of thing will drive a person crazy.

Sounds like you’re a little crazy. Deny all you want.

The suicide bombers who blew up the USS  Cole didn’t have a PS3 and look how that turned out. As far as I know, nobody in Al-Qaeda has an Xbox 360. If they did, at least three of the 19 hijackers would have missed their flights.

You’re under my spell, don’t resist me.  

These are excuses for disturbed individuals. Video games haven’t become less violent and there are always more talk radio options. Lyrics? Next month at the 53rd Annual Grammy Awards, Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” is nominated for both Record of the Year and Song of the Year. What were you saying?

You can’t escape me. I’m everywhere.

It’s more likely that a piece of pie he was served in 5th grade was smaller than what the other kids received and it haunted him all his life, a moment only he remembers. “They mean to do you harm.”

Everyone needs to tone it down.

The Nazi card was played at least twice last week, this in our new age of civility — and of course it’s always taken out of context. This is the reaction to a presidential call for civil discourse.

Well, something needs to be done.

The usual suspects — limit speech; Fairness Doctrine; stricter gun laws. Some new flavor — Congress can exercise its 2nd Amendment rights but citizens can’t within 1,000 feet of them; a bulletproof Plexiglass separation in the House Chamber designed to segregate the supposed shooters from the alleged targets — whichever side is which; One congressman plans to introduce a bill that would ban symbols like a bull’s-eye or cross hairs on maps or faces of elected officials. And my suggestion — remove everyone’s index fingers so that no one is capable of pulling a trigger.

Do you have any idea how unhinged you sound?

Do a Google image search for “kill Bush rally” and on the first page, you’ll find posters from events with the former president’s face in crosshairs. Add the documentary that hypothesized his murder in painstaking detail. You don’t call this progress?

If you opened your eyes, you’d see it’s more polarized now than it’s ever been.

Ideas, words and images removed from actions do not equal murder. Saying “in the crosshairs” will not put a gun in someone’s hand. Making a documentary of a presidential assassination did not make it so.

The voices will stop if you kill someone for me.

Not buying it. Words won’t force a rational person into mayhem. Considering that Congress — the same people who meet in war rooms to wage fierce campaigns in battleground states where they take no prisoners; who threaten to kill a bill or propose projects for high-speed bullet trains, then appear on “Crossfire” — is set to determine the standards of our decorum in the wake of this tragedy, I’m not holding my breath.

We need to elevate the tone, have a new era of civility.

Words. Different words, some we can no longer use. Now those who laid down this moronic gauntlet of political correctness are being shot with their own gun.

What did you say?

You jumped the shark.

We did not jump the shark.

You water-skied in your leather jacket — as if anyone’s believing this already — and raced up the ramp but before you land safely on the other side, nothing you ever do can be taken seriously again.

The Tea Party is the shark and it eats Fonzie.

You didn’t see the episode.

Sarah Palin put a gun in the hands of a psychopath she convinces must take out Fonzie before he makes the jump. When the job’s complete, Palin shoots the shark.

Not even close but you’re confirming that if one template works, any template will.

Draw your own conclusions. Label me as you wish. It’s your choice. I could care less.

“Money for Nothing” was to blame. One person in Canada was offended by a Dire Straits song from 26 years ago and now the rest of the country’s 33 million radio listeners can no longer hear it.

That’s Canada.

It could set someone off. Huck Finn was to blame. Too many “n’s” in the story and his name too. Get rid of them. We shall call him “Huck Fi” and later realize the hidden F-word is a just short jumble away from insulting someone else, so we’ll remove that too and just leave it at “Hi.”

This is senseless.  

You’re trying to make sense of something that doesn’t make sense. Playmates with big boobs and a working knowledge of firearms are to blame.

I am not a fan of guns below a 38 caliber. I guess if you have 9-12 rounds of hollow points it eventually does the same job. Just sayin 😉    …..   Tiffany Taylor, Playboy Playmate Miss November 1998

Your drivel is boring.

Rick James was to blame. All accounts show that Jared Loughner was not only a freak, uncovered photos of him wearing a red G-string confirm he was most likely a Super Freak, the kind you don’t take home to mother.

I am now officially bored by this conversation. Conspiracy theories bore me to tears.

Rising gas prices, inflation, birds falling from the sky, fish washing up on shores — who’s to say what the Queen of Diamonds is in a particular person’s wiring diagram? I’d remind you again of this, also unemployment, calls dropped by AT&T, Hugh Hefner turning 60 before the woman he’s about to marry was even born — it’s enough to drive someone insane. Rational people hold it together.

Queen of what?

Ask a parent what sets them off … An overplayed Wiggles DVD playing Fruit Salad or Here Come the Reindeer in July; the sight of “Lofty” on Bob the Builder — “that spineless hunk of scrap metal;” Disney sing-alongs in the car; Baby Einstein after the 1,000th showing; the Barney Theme song; Caillou; Absolutely anything to do with Teletubbies; Special Agent Oso’s Three Special Steps — “that song sticks in your head like a rusty ice pick that just keeps boring deeper and deeper into your skull.” Those of sound mind refrain from such action.

Pathetic. Your condescention is a joke.

A person may wind up at an isolated junction after learning Elton John’s baby “Levon” was born on a Christmas Day and took this as a sign to study the rest of the lyrics for clues of what the next step should be. “The New York Times says God is dead and the war’s begun.” Maybe he always felt like a bullet in the gun of Robert Ford. Better ban Elton John’s music or at the very least Bernie Taupin’s lyrics for suggesting a crazy boy might wind up with strange notions in his head.

Ticking.

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© 2011 – 2012, Soapy Johnson. All rights reserved.

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