Media Magnifying Glass – More Like a Fun-House Mirror

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Disasters, accidents, violent events, novelties, and scandals sell news.  Human nature compels us to gawk when we drive past an auto accident.  Danger, violence, and death attract us.  We “try on” the situation as if it is happening to us.  If our imagination is vivid enough, we experience what we see.  Our adrenal glands secrete cortisol, which gets us ready to freeze, fight, or flee.  The media know this well, and play to that part of our nature.  The more they succeed, the more fearful and suspicious we become.  Common sense tells us to lock our doors and cars, and take other wise precautions.  But, exaggerated fear-based stories lack context and perspective.

Gun Violence

Fifty-million Americans own more than 300 million guns.  We see the gun violence on TV and read about the terrible incidents of people dying. We hear about the mounting toll of Chicago’s homicide victims.  That does not mean you can expect more gun violence in your neighborhood.  It does not mean that every owner of a gun is a menace to you or your family.  The statistics sound horrific until you realize how vast America is and how many people live here.  The US population is over 323 million today.

Race      Pop.   %
Total 323,515,021 100%
White & Hispanic 232,943,055 73.6%
Black 44,908,095 12.6%
Other 50,663,871 13.8%

Below is a table of firearm death facts.

Firearm Deaths
  Total Black White & Hispanic
Homicide 17,250 7,881 6,576
Suicide 21,000 1,152 16,980
Police      500    233      267
Accidents      800    400      400
Total 33,900 9,666 24,223
% 100% 28.5%   71.5%

I broke the figures down by race because news about guns often revolves around race.  Note that blacks were 28.5% of the victims, which is more than double the 12.6% of the population who are black.  The FBI statistics show that 90% of black homicides were shot by blacks; likewise, 90% of white homicides  were shot by whites.  Gangs were responsible for most of the  homicides, while attacking other gangs, or committing  crimes.

Gunshot injuries 2015 were 85,000, according to CDC.  Total dead and injured 118,900.  Divide 118,900 by 300 million = .04%.  That means that 99.96% of guns did no harm.  That same total divided by 50 million gun owners = .24% were involved.  That means 99.76% of gun owners did no harm.

Police Shootings

Police shot 963 in 2016; 233 were black; of those all but 16 were armed.  The news media make it seem like hundreds of white police officers are shooting unarmed black men. A new study, “Do White Police Officers Unfairly Target Black Suspects?” used details of 2,699 police shootings 2013-2015 from 1,500 police departments around the country to discover:

  1. Black officers killed unarmed black suspects at a significantly higher rate than white or Hispanic officers.
  2. Both black and white police officers kill unarmed black suspects with higher probability than unarmed white or Hispanic suspects
  3. White police officers are not more likely than black officers, to kill black suspects.
  4. Hispanic police officers are significantly less likely to kill black suspects than either black or white officers.
  5. No evidence of significant racial discrimination on the part of white police officers with respect to black suspects.

John R. Lott, Jr and Carlisle E. Moody
College of William & Mary and the Crime Prevention Research Center
July 21, 2017

Here is a link to the study: https://goo.gl/xqI4bu (Unless you are a statistician, their paper can be daunting)

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The “Other” Domestic Violence – False Accusations “Kill” the Accused

As bad as domestic violence can be, false accusations are ruinous, and non-recourse punishment by our injustice system.

The law did not address domestic violence seriously, until recent decades.  Then state legislatures passed current domestic abuse laws in fits of passion without thinking of potential abuse by false accusation.  Now, vengeful women use these laws as weapons in child custody, and divorce cases, as well as for just plain spite.  There is no defense.

The police are required to come and arrest the accused and take him to jail, even if the accuser recants on the spot.  Then, the D.A. charges the accused, even if the accuser continues to recant, (the mean women pile on other wild accusations and get restraining orders.).

Meanwhile, the meter is running on legal bills, and in custody situations, the father cannot see his kids.

If he is found not guilty, he is still out thousands of dollars, may have lost his job, and his reputation.  On top of that, he has zero chance of filing charges against the accuser; they will not prosecute for fear that such charges”might discourage real victims from coming forth.”

My son-in-law is going through this right now.  The accuser claimed he bent her finger, hurt her ribs, and hit her.  She had no signs of damage, did not go to a doctor, and waited 10 days, until he was in back surgery, to call the police.  He was arrested, charged, and subject to a 90-day restraining order, which kept him from seeing his 18-month-old son.  His employer suspended him pending the trial (next February).  Legal fees are over $5,000 so far.

Then, she added more far-fetched accusations:  he tore her clothes off, chased her around the apartment, pulled out and administered a rape kit to test if she had cheated on him, then produced a polygraph machine and tested her for lying.  (She never mentioned the baby at all.)  Since then, she has thought up even more charges; and the D.A. just keeps on adding one ridiculous item after another.  Oh, did I mention she is crazy?

He is not alone, by a long shot.  Look online for stories of false accusation.  Sure, most of the time the charges have substance.  But in this case, I am sure this woman used these accusations to punish him and keep him from his son.

The only way to change this travesty, is to encourage/threaten your elected officials.  If there is clearly no obvious harm to the woman, AND she recants, and admits she did it out of spite/anger, the allegation should be investigated, not ruining the man’s life.

The accused should be treated as innocent until proven otherwise.  Until balance and due process are restored, men can always be guilty until proven innocent, and even then they lose.

Take Time Off from Politics – Flowers for Las Vegas Before Pointless Witch-hunts

Today, Stephen Paddock, a deluded, deranged, depressed, millionaire, from a small town in Nevada committed suicide in a Las Vegas hotel.  Tragically, beforehand, he tried to take 600 people with him.  He shot 586 outdoor concert-goers from his hotel window, before shooting himself.  He killed 59 people and wounded another 527 in the worst mass shooting in US history.  The grief and pain of the victims and thousands of loved ones is unthinkable, and indescribable.

President Trump showed true class in his address to the nation.  His speech held not one shred of politics, only honest compassion for the victims, their families, and friends.

Meanwhile, the political wolves began to howl partisan slogans, about gun control.

Gun control?  How about a CDC campaign against prescription hatred addiction and vitriol overdoses?

Hayley Geftman-Gold, CBS vice president and senior counsel, posted on Facebook: “I’m actually not even sympathetic [because] country music fans often are Republican gun toters,” and, “If they wouldn’t do anything when children were murdered I have no hope that Repugs will ever do the right thing.”

This is heartless, dispassionate, disregard, of death, pain & suffering, in Las Vegas.  She dismissed empathy for the victims and families of the tragedy.  This is a frightening manifestation of a widespread mental illness – ideological, borderline-personality, “left-supremacism.”

Here is a scary question: How many “friends” does she have on Facebook?  She must have felt safe posting her feelings to them.  Who would share, or be sympathetic to, such a soulless, sociopathic viewpoint?

CBS quickly disowned and fired her.  But she and her madness are not gone.  If anything, she now has more free time and a lot more anger, to power her rhetoric and spread the word.   I shudder to think that people with similar beliefs are kneeling next to me in church.  The harm their hatred does is pernicious, poison in the spiritual air we breathe.

She needs our prayers too, to heal herself and her “friends.” But not before we pray for the souls of the dead, and the hearts of the living who mourn them.

Watch Out Memorial Day Weekend Drivers! Texas Police Abuse a Little-Known Traffic Law to Trap Motorists

It is Memorial Day weekend.  You are going to the lake or to visit family or friends. You are not a novice driver.  You have been around for quite a while and you know the traffic laws. You try to avoid traffic tickets by staying close to the limits of speed and safety.

You also know that some towns along multi-lane highways are known as “speed traps.”  The usual speed limit is 60 – 70 MPH; the speed limit drops by 10 – 15 MPH at the city limits.  The local police sit there and write ticket after ticket when motorists miss the sign.  Most drivers know this; radar guns only snare the unwary.

But what about this sneaky trick:  Ticket drivers going at or below the posted limit, who do not know the specifics of one Texas law.

  • You are driving on a tollway with a posted speed limit of 80 miles per hour;
  • Up ahead, you see a police car pulled completely off the side of the highway;
  • You notice there is no accident or car pulled over;
  • You wonder why they have all their lights flashing;
  • You slow down to the speed limit or below as you pass the police car;
  • Suddenly the police car pulls out behind you and makes you pull over.
  • You get a $100+ ticket for a traffic law you never knew about.

I never knew the specifics of this law, but I intuitively moved over to the next lane when passing a police traffic stop, accident, or other mishap, and slowed to the speed limit when I was going faster.

The trap is when you STAY IN THE RIGHT LANE.  That’s right, the rules for passing an authorized emergency vehicle with lights flashing require you to move to the next lane to the left, or slow to 20 MPH below the posted speed.

I have no problem with this law where and accident or traffic stop is in progress.  My problem is when there is no reason for the vehicle to be stopped there except to fine motorists.

Why would a police car be parked, flashing lights on, beside the road, with a radar gun pointed out the window?  If this were incidental, don’t you think the officer would issue a warning to an unsuspecting driver going the speed limit or slightly below?  The real reason appears to be money.

To me this is a scurrilous abuse of power.  Until or unless this is remedied, do not fall into the trap.

FYI:  Texas Transportation Code § 545.157.

(a) This section applies only to the following vehicles:

(1) a stationary authorized emergency vehicle using visual signals that meet the requirements of Sections 547.305 and 547.702;(

2) a stationary tow truck using equipment authorized by Section 547.305(d); and

(3) a Texas Department of Transportation vehicle not separated from the roadway by a traffic control channelizing device and using visual signals that comply with the standards and specifications adopted under Section 547.105.

(b) On approaching a vehicle described by Subsection (a), an operator, unless otherwise directed by a police officer, shall:

(1) vacate the lane closest to the vehicle when driving on a highway with two or more lanes traveling in the direction of the vehicle; or

(2) slow to a speed not to exceed:

(A) 20 miles per hour less than the posted speed limit when the posted speed limit is 25 miles per hour or more; or

(B) five miles per hour when the posted speed limit is less than 25 miles per hour.

(c) A violation of this section is:

(1) a misdemeanor punishable under Section 542.401;

(2) a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 if the violation results in property damage; or

(3) a Class B misdemeanor if the violation results in bodily injury.

(d) If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code or the Penal Code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or under both sections.

(e) In this section:

(1) “Tow truck” means a vehicle that:

(A) has been issued a permit under Subchapter C, Chapter 2308, Occupations Code; and

(B) is operated by a person licensed under Subchapter D, Chapter 2308, Occupations Code.

(2) “Traffic control channelizing device” means equipment used to warn and alert drivers of conditions created by work activities in or near the traveled way, to protect workers in a temporary traffic control zone, and to guide drivers and pedestrians safely.  The term includes a traffic cone, tubular marker, vertical panel, drum, barricade, temporary raised island, concrete or cable barrier, guardrail, or channelizer.