Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Narrative vs. Information

 I was wrong about something.  I wrongly thought the Kenosha police officer who shot Jacob Blake made a mistake.  He did not.  I made the mistake of watching the television news and accepting the narrative the newscasters assembled from carefully selected facts.  

Fact:  There was an altercation on the street in a neighborhood in Kenosha, WI.

Fact:  Jacob Blake was involved in trying to settle the dispute peaceably.

Fact:  Police arrived on the scene.

Fact:  One of the police officers shot Blake seven times in the back.

Fact:  Blake's three children were in the car at the time.

Even if all these facts were true, only a couple have any material bearing on the story -- cops were on the scene and shot Blake.  The rest are "scene setting" and cause viewers to define what they see in the video in terms of the narrative the corporate news wants to convey.  This is one of the reasons I prefer to read my news.  

Several facts were left out of the narrative which has resulted in rioting, destruction of property, injury, and, possibly, death.     

Fact:  Blake was wanted on an outstanding warrant related to domestic abuse.  This was conveyed to the police officers enroute to the scene.

Fact:  Officers were going to arrest Blake on that warrant.  He resisted.

Fact:  Officers deployed a Taser on Blake which proved ineffective.

Fact:  Officers claim Blake was armed with a knife.  They repeatedly told him to "drop the knife".  

Not A Fact:  I have looked at a still from the video.  He does appear to have what is known as a karambit knife in his hand.

Fact:  He turned his back on arresting officers and attempted to enter a vehicle.  The officers could not have known whether or not he had a firearm or other weapon in the vehicle.  

Not A Fact:  Given the circumstances, it is not unreasonable for an officer to assume Blake intended to go for a gun.  

Back to what was conveyed by the corporate newscasters, Blake was shot seven times in the back.

Now I am going to tell you what I think.  You can decide whether or not you believe that I am still mistaken, that the officer did or did not do the right thing.  

Should they have tried physical restraint on Blake?  If he did have a knife in his hand, the answer is no.  A knife is dangerous in close contact even for someone wearing body armor.

Right or wrong, the person who could have stopped all this is Jacob Blake.  Blake acted like a fool.  Maybe he is a fool.  Maybe he was having a bad day.  Maybe he's a low-IQ thug.  Maybe he's an upstanding, peaceful, productive citizen who was the victim of an ex-girlfriend's jealousy.  None of that matters.  Blake could have cooperated.  He would not have been shot, and Kenosha would not be burning.  

Here's another possibility.  The last few years of narrative pumped by the press has so terrorized people like Jacob Blake that they assume arrest is a death sentence.  Kind of like how the media has convinced Americans that a strain of influenza that has killed 0.05% (at most) of the population is the Black Plague.  We can give him the benefit of the doubt there.  If he watched the cable channels' with their 24-hour hysteria, I can see where he would be worried.  

Maybe Kenosha should sue CNN.