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by Peter Moskos

April 5, 2009

What's News?

Why were the Oakland police shootings front-page nationwide news and the Pittsburgh police shootings not? I don't think it's just the difference between 3 versus 4 officers killed.

Somehow an angry violent black killer makes for better headlines than an angry violent white killer. Am I supposed to believe that white killers just flip out and lose it while black killers are somehow symbolic of deeper problems of race and the community? If the media were really so liberally biased, wouldn't it be the other way around?

(On the other hand, I don't hear of anybody in Pittsburgh heckling officers or setting up a shrine to the killer.)

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has a lot of good coverage on the latest tragedy:

Deadly ambush claims the lives of 3 city police officers

Devotion to badge was slain officers' common thread

Hundreds of bullets fired in shootout with suspected cop killer

Police risked their lives to rescue downed officers

Suspect in officers' shooting was into conspiracy theories


dave h. said...

That's an excellent observation, Peter. People who knew the killer in Pittsburgh say he had fears (however irrational) that Obama was going to take his guns. So he will be portrayed as one of those angry militia types. No sympathy for him (except among angry militia types, of course). The guy in Oakland is somehow a symbol of struggle, if only to ignorant, black nationalists. To turn a violent parolee into some kind of Rosa Parks figure is a sign of a truly sick, extremist ideology.

In a way, these black "radicals" have put a new twist on the old philosophy of the imperialist and the slave owner: "We are black, and due to historical experiences, we cannot be held to the same standards of behavior as Europeans. You have to give us a little slack, and excuse the occasional multiple homicide cuz us "brothers" have had it so tough."

In truth, both of these killers had characteristics in common. They were losers that couldn't deal with life and didn't want to go to jail/prison. They were bullies, yet considered themselves to be victims (an attitude that shows up again and again in criminal etiology). They were also selfish assholes who were willing to kill to accomplish this even if they had to die in the process. Again, they aren't "brothers in struggle," they are losers and they got what was coming to them. F*$k 'em both.

Anonymous said...

You also did not hage crowds taunting officers at the scene in Pittisburgh, and Pittsburgh did not happen after a string of high-profile mass shootings within the space of a couple of weeks.

Anonymous said...

Rather, I should have said Oakland did not occur after several high profile shootings.

Anonymous said...

I really think it's as simple as the Pittsburg incident occurred on the heels of a larger killing spree. Why should the media give air time to a "gun rights wacko" when they can give it to a higher body count that they can tie to the economy?

One Time said...

I agree. I think Oakland stole the thunder.