By John Grant, This Can’t Be Happening, 10/14/13
For the past week I’ve been talking with anyone I could shoehorn about the shooting death of Miriam Carey on the streets of Washington DC. As with any homicide — and that’s how it would be classified for the autopsy — there are differing opinions and mitigating circumstances to consider.
For instance, the mitigating circumstance most articulated by officialdom and the media to justify the killing of Miriam Carey is that the threat of terrorism is in the forefront of the minds of police officers in the nation’s capital, where 17 days earlier a random gunman had murdered 12 people at the Navy Yard.
In the case of Miriam Carey, 34, the consensus seems to be her killing was a tragedy in which police officers were justified in killing her. They were, accordingly, honored on the floor of Congress for doing their duty during a time of great national stress aggravated by an unprecedented shutdown of the federal government. The capital police officers who killed Miriam Carey were working without pay. The media news cycle has moved on, and the government shutdown remains the big story.
Likewise, we didn’t hear much about John Constantino. The day after Miriam Carey’s killing, the 64-year-old Mount Laurel, New Jersey, man, also an African American, drove to the capital city, and at about 4:30 in the afternoon, on the mall between the Air & Space Museum and the National Gallery, sat down on the grass facing the Capitol building, poured gasoline all over himself and set himself ablaze.
Witnesses reported he said something about “voters’ rights” or “voting rights.” The married father of three grown children died later in the hospital. A lawyer hired by Constanino’s family said his act was not political and that he was mentally ill.
Constantino’s neighbor, Joe Horner, told a different story to a New York Daily News reporter. Constantino, Horner said, “didn’t like the government for some reason. … He said to me, ‘They’re no good. They don’t look out for us and they don’t care about anything but their own pockets.’ ”
One thing the mainstream media does not do is invest time and resources in stories like Constantino’s or Miriam Carey’s. There’s no desire to explain or, more to the point, to dignify such apparently desperate, solitary acts, especially when there’s the suggestion of a political motive. The rule is, a suicide must be labeled the pointless act of a mentally ill person. Unless a politically-motivated person kills other people besides himself, then, of course, the act gets lots of attention. It’s now a senseless, random killer act or, better yet, an act of terror.
This is basic Journalism 101. As the famous New York Times slogan — all the news that’s fit to print — suggests, some news is considered unfit for the minds of decent middle-brow Americans. Mentally ill citizens at the end of their tether are just not news. The rule is: Get them off the stage quickly.
For me, something is terribly wrong when an unarmed, emotionally disturbed young mother with a one-year-old strapped into the back seat of her car is gunned down in broad daylight by police officers.
People I raised this with often responded with incredulity. What was I talking about? She could have been armed. She might have had a bomb. She bumped into a White House barrier and ignored police commands to stop. The way she fled from the police turned her car into a weapon. Of course, she was endangering her child. A US congressman interviewed by Fox News on the Capitol steps said, “Police searched her house and found a white powder. We don’t know, but it could be anthrax.”
Or maybe talcum powder for her one-year-old….
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