Part 4—Basic facts lost, stolen and strayed: We started our current report with an award-winning question.
Our question went something like this:
If someone staged a well-designed survey, how many people would say that none of the others were shot and killed by police in recent years?
Please understand! We wouldn't be asking if enough others have been shot and killed, based on their share of the population. Our question would be different:
We'd be asking if any of the others were shot and killed—if any were killed at all.
(In an alternate part of our survey, we'd ask a different type of question. We'd ask respondents to estimate how many others were shot and killed, as compared to the number of people shot and killed within the demographic on which press reports and political activism have focused in recent years.)
According to Yevtushenko, "not nothing" is lost every time a person is shot and killed! Whatever the demographic!
Very few people will agree with such an unusual claim. That said, we the people hear a great deal about certain killings, and we don't hear about certain others at all. We wonder how this selective coverage may have affected the public's understanding of certain basic statistical facts.
On a national basis, people won't hear about Bijan Ghaisar, whose death we cited on Monday. They didn't hear about John Geer, who was shot and killed in broad daylight while standing on his front porch.
They didn't see the videotape of Gilbert Flores being shot and killed in Texas. They didn't see the videotape of the "other" kid who got shot and killed as he held a toy gun outside a convenience store.
(You can find such killings on YouTube.)
Our question on Monday was simple. As the deaths of these others have been disappeared, we wonder how many people may have ended up thinking that none of the others have been shot and killed by police in recent years.
Many such deaths have been disappeared. Then too, there's the key role embellishment has played, in recent years, in the deaths which do get widely discussed on a national basis.
In principle, it may well be well and good that these shooting deaths get discussed. It seems to us that embellishment, and flat misstatement, may not be gigantically helpful.
What kinds of embellishment do we mean? Consider something which happened when C-Span asked Kirsten West Savali to discuss the topic of "Race and Police Shootings."
(To watch her appearance on Washington Journal, you can just click here.)
Savali is an associate editor and senior writer for The Root. Shortly after the 8-minute mark, she was asked what the federal role should be in the area of police shootings.
In reply, Savali made an interesting comment:
SAVALI (3/31/18): Well, I would like to see action as far as—you know, under the Obama administration, there were all these reports done under Eric Holder's DOJ, and we still did not see police officers being charged with hate crimes.Under Holder, the Justice Department did produce some major reports about police shootings. It was interesting to see Savali praise these reports, because the DOJ's report about the shooting of Michael Brown explained, in great detail, why the police officer in question wasn't charged with a federal hate crime.
There were a lot of great reports, there were a lot of information, so at the very least, if you're supposed to represent this country, you should be able to speak out on the violence we see in these communities.
Indeed, the DOJ report went much farther than that. It explicitly said that every shot the officer fired had been justified. Holder specifically said that he endorsed this report.
Was that a sensible, sound assessment? We can't answer that question. But we can tell you this:
That report has been widely disappeared within our liberal "community." Indeed, at the 3-minute mark of that same C-Span tape, Savali had already made these comments after C-Span's Paul Orgel specifically mentioned Ferguson:
ORGEL: Why does this happen in the way it happens these days? And has anything improved since Ferguson?Larry Payne was shot and killed in Memphis, in 1968, in the aftermath of one of Dr. King's marches on behalf of the city's sanitation workers.
SAVALI: Well, you know, I don't think we can say "these days." You know, let's talk about Jimmie Lee Jackson, who was assassinated by a state trooper in Alabama in 1965 trying to get voting rights.
We can talk about Larry Payne. You know, this is the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King. Larry Payne was sixteen years old. He also had his hands up. They were also saying, "Don't shoot him."
He was sixteen years old and he was shot by a police officer. So when we talk about what's happened since Ferguson, you know what's happened since then, what's happened since the inception of police departments, there's a continuum of slave patrols who were meant to bring enslaved black people back to plantations...
For more information, click here. Now let's return to the more recent past:
By any normal interpretation, Savali is still saying, in that passage, that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot and killed in Ferguson, with onlookers saying "Don't shoot him."
One of the Holder reports—reports which Savali praised—explicitly rejected all such claims about the death of Michael Brown. But within our modern liberal world, "embellishment culture" is very strong when it comes to such events.
We liberals! We disappear the deaths of the others—and beyond that, we rearrange basic facts concerning the deaths we do choose to discuss. Basically, our rearrangement of basic facts takes three basic forms:
Basic elements of modern embellishment culture:Hillary Clinton's chapter about black shooting deaths was larded with these behaviors. Unless we liberals have decided to embrace a very brave new world, it seems to us that such behavior is just extremely unattractive and bad.
1) We invent inaccurate facts which make the event more horrific.
2) We disappear accurate facts which would make the event less horrific.
3) We stress wholly irrelevant facts, thereby adding pathos to our novelized storylines.
Let's set those slave patrols to the side and consider our own more recent behavior. It seems to us that own own behavior is often very bad.
We've created a liberal embellishment culture. We'd like to see a survey of the kinds of false belief our behavior may have caused.
Tomorrow: Let's take a look at the numbers