ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.
“The news is what someone else doesn’t want you to know.” — Attributed most often to William Randolph Hearst
“In a totalitarian society, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell
I’ve railed often against government or corporate control or manipulation of information, but an event this week clearly illustrated the consequences of this foul practice.
Those who have been reading Townbroadcast know I have had problems with simply accepting what authorities, whether public or private, provide with information when something happens that should or might raise eyebrows. I often give examples so often provided by the corporate sector when some official resigns abruptly, explaining, “He (or she) left to spend more time with his (her) family.”
There are other developments with explanations that don’t seem to pass the smell test. It feels too often like the official line is just dancing around the issue and trying to make a controversy go away as quickly and harmlessly as possible.
I’ve gotten into trouble in my checkered past in community journalism for simply attempting to tell the truth. It seems Jack Nicholson in “Few Good Men” was right when he told Tom Cruise, “You can’t handle the truth!”
I even got fired for telling the truth unsolicited more than 13 years ago. Most recently, I aroused the ire of at least two readers for telling what was said widely around town when school officials did a poor job of explaining why an English teacher suddenly left in the middle of an academic year.
But the George Floyd trial brought this issue front and center once again, throwing the spotlight on why so many corporate and public officials are not trusted and even suspected of lying.
I hope I am clear in stating I believe most police officers are honorable and brave in what they do. But sometimes…
Though everybody now seems to know what happened on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis, the following was the press release attributed to the local police department, with many thanks to the reporting of CNN:
Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction
“That was the headline of a Minneapolis Police press release on May 25, 2020, in the hours after an unnamed man in his 40s died. Absent from the nearly 200-word post is any mention of officers restraining him on the ground, a knee on his neck, or any sense of how long this ‘interaction’ lasted.
“Thanks to video from a 17-year-old bystander, we now know what really happened: Former police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, by using excessive and unreasonable force when he kneeled on Floyd’s neck and back for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
“Chauvin was convicted Tuesday on two counts of murder and a count of manslaughter in a Minnesota criminal court.
“In light of his conviction, that original press release is worth revisiting to understand the ways that police statements can hide the truth with a mix of passive language, blatant omissions and mangled sense of timing.”
It should be noted that the Minneapolis Police Department press release did not tell falsehoods. Its “crime” was leaving out a lot of damning and important information.
It’s this kind of development that makes me fearful about public and private control of information, and makes me skeptical about unconditionally supporting the “Thin Blue Line,” which sometimes actually serves as a “Wall of Blue” to protect officers accused or guilty of wrongdoing.
And as the now late Attorney General Ramsey Clark once asked, “Who will protect the people when the police violate the law?”
As I have insisted before, we as a nation have paid dearly in thousands of lives because we were lied to. And lately, this sin seems to have grown into an epidemic.