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August 15, 2014

Video of Suspected Strong-Arm Robber Stealing Cigars in Convenience Store

The police, of course, suspect this is Michael Brown.

I'll write more about this later, after I've thought about it more.

One important point is this: I am getting very tired of the "teenager" meme from the media.

Michael Brown was 6'4" and 300 pounds. He was, physically, a full-grown man. (Well, maybe he might have grown a bit more to 6'5", but certainly he was more fully grown than 90% of men on the planet.)

It is time for the media to stop peddling this deliberately misleading descriptor, which they know:

1. the descriptor suggests a thin, awkward whelp, as most "teenagers" are. The description suggests child. Whereas an older teenager is in fact usually a full-grown man.

2. the descriptor further suggests, without actually saying so, that the "teenager" must have been shot maliciously, because certainly a full-grown cop doesn't need to resort to deadly force to restrain a "teenager" -- again, the image in our heads is of a thin, gawky 14-year-old whose voice is just beginning to change.

These situations are always heavily dependent on facts, and it's well past time the media began getting the facts right, without resorting to deliberately-misleading carnival-barking and deceptive hype.

If the media doesn't know if the "teenager" in question was closer to a 14 year old whelp or a full-grown man, here's an idea: Ask. Ask the cops for the suspect's bodily dimensions.

The fact that Michael Brown was a very large man does not prove that he was guilty of anything, of course, nor that his shooting was just.

However, the previous claims -- of him being a "teenager" -- themselves suggested falsely that cops had no conceivable need of using force at all.

What I mean is this: a 14 year old who gets chippy in the back seat is not a big problem. You cuff him on the head and tell him to knock it off.

A 6'4", 300 pound man who's getting chippy in the back seat is more of a problem, and an actual threat to the police.

Again, that doesn't mean Michael Brown was guilty or that the shooting was just.

But we've had a false narrative planted in our brains that suggested the shooting must have bad.

The actual facts are these: Yes, Michael Brown was of the sort of size that if he wanted to make trouble, he could make a great deal of trouble indeed.

Hardly the image conjured up by the misleading descriptor "unarmed teenager."

These are extremely sensitive situations -- stores may be burned to the ground, cops may be injured or killed, and everyday law-abiding citizens may be injured, arrested, or even killed due to the propensity of these stories to inflame passions.

The media must stop making dire situations more dire still.

"First, do no harm" is the first code of the physician. The media should consider adopting this code themselves, especially in highly-charged situations.

Corrected: I said the store being robbed was a QuikTrip, but people are telling me it wasn't, and that the QuikTrip stop is at another point in the day's timeline.

I don't actually know, and I've gotten confused on this point, so I'm going with the non-committal "convenience store."

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posted by Ace at 02:15 PM

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