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Untethered on press reaction to Omar Thornton
The grotesque irony of pursuing a homicidal bigot’s complaints of racial harassment is only noticed by the irrelevant (myhand’s raised). ... For the media the event worked like a brain-teaser, where habitual thinking leads one to miss plain meaning. You know:
one of the coins is a nickel; the doctor is the boy’smother; the hateful murderer is the bigot.
No “but of course” moment is forthcoming. Here the press is like the ideal subject for a hypnotist’s lounge act: easily brought under, highly suggestible, shameless in its stupor, oblivious in retrospect.
This defamation of the dead isn‘t without its black comedy: the murderer was wearied, we’re told (by a callow girlfriend as oblivious to shame as the reporters encouraging her, reveling in the attention and enthusiastically adopting, as it were, the role usually reserved for a tearful mother), by the racism that just so happened to find him at every job. The chronically incompetent and stupid typically blame luck or a spiteful world for their misfortunes, and in Omar’s mind racism followed him like a personal storm cloud, manifested, I presume, in charges of tardiness, ineptitude, theft. Perhaps it is me who’s being naïve. After all, what a boundless reservoir of racism white America is!
The media’s appetite would not be sated before we were assured of the gentle nature of this man and his love for family, lovers, and handguns. One newspaper featured a photo spread of the widow (of the killer, not one of the killed), complete with an image of the tattoo consecrating her upper thigh to their love. ...Once the guilt of the dead is confirmed by the standard of federal “civil rights law”—wherein the burden of proof is on the accused (here they can be said to be doubly disadvantaged, compelled by law to prove the negative in a voice rendered silent by their accuser; damn this teacher is strict!) ...