John Boehner. I do not watch late-night television. Not only has my bedtime moved up with age, the self-righteousness of modern comedians is not nearly as much fun to me as the humor of Johnny Carson.
However, a friend sent me a clip of a late-night host, Stephen Colbert, interviewing John Boehner, the former Speaker of the House of Representatives. Boehner wrote a book with his political insights. He is making the rounds of television shows to promote the book.
Boehner is direct, honest, blunt, forthright. He praised and skewered people on both sides of the political aisle. It was an entertaining interview. In addition to the entertainment, I paid special attention to one insight he offered that I believe to be very important.
He is said the ability of Congress to work together has disappeared. He had praise for past Democrats, with whom he had political differences, but who would work together for what is in the best interests of the country. In his opinion, the failure of Congress to get work done in recent years and the big divide in our country is tied to the rise of the internet, social media, and the development of extreme commentators on both sides of the aisle.
Social Media. I strongly agree with Boehner. In my opinion the internet, social media and the general media portray events in ways that distort our perception of reality. Each side portrays events in ways that support their bias. Highlighting of a single extreme incident leads the ignorant to believe the single incident represents the whole of society. The highlighting occurs on the left and the right. As Boehner notes, the problem is on both sides of the aisles.
I would argue the failure to understand scope in the face of a single event is one of the biggest problems we face in America. We need our educational system to teach people that a single major incident is not an accurate portrayal of reality. The incident can be very important, but there is usually much more going on in reality.
Colbert was not happy with the idea both sides are bias. He would like to put all the blame on the right and believe the left does not contribute to the problem. I agree with Boehner – both contribute. I have in the past shown distortions on the right. Today I focus on the left and how social media and other media can distort reality.
Makhia Bryant. This week 16-year-old Makhia Bryant was shot and killed by a police officer in Columbus Ohio.
Immediately. in response, LeBron James tweeted on social media “You’re next. #Accountability#”. In another response Cornell Brooks, former head of the NAACP, on a national media outlet, asked — What if it were your child, a member of your family, killed in what is essentially a schoolyard fight? The portrayal of the event in relationship to the Derrick Chauvin case was swift and strong across the internet and other means of communication.
I saw coverage of the event on every major network and in ways that fit a left-wing view of the police and their treatment of people of color. While I believe that policing is an issue worth consideration, today’s blog is about whether or not bias portrayal by the left can distort reality.
Nyaira Givens. To make my point I turn to an incident that happened this week 100 miles away from Columbus in Cincinnati, Ohio. In that event, 13-year-old Janiah Pate stabbed Nyaira Givens in a “schoolyard fight” and killed her.
LeBron James and Cornell Brooks have not made a response to the murder. I did not see wide-spread coverage of the event. I did not see interviews with Nyaira’ family asking if this was just a schoolyard fight. I did not see interviews with Nyaira’ family asking if a policeman had shot and killed Janiah would they be thankful for saving the daughter’s life. The interviews may have happened but they did not find their way into the national left-wing media.
My question is straightforward. “If both incidences were highly publicized, would we have a more balanced understanding of the difficulties of policing? Would we have a better picture of reality?
In my opinion the straight forward answer is yes. Again, that in no way is a claim we should not try to develop better policing. It is saying our understanding of policing needs to be a realistic understanding, and not a slanted view. I would also like some people to use their bully pulpits to suggest to teenage girls that anger and knives are not the best ways to settle disputes.
Val Demings. Val Demings is a black female Democrat in the House of Representatives, who was given strong consideration to be the vice-presidential running mate of President Biden. She was also the Police Chief for Orlando, Florida before her election to the House. Her view of reality includes understanding the reality of policing and the problems for people of color. She was asked for her response to the Makhia Bryant shooting.
Demings said Bryant’s death was “a sad moment” for her, both as a former patrol officer and a former social worker who worked with foster care children.
Demings also said that based on the “limited information” that’s been released, and having viewed footage of the shooting, “it appears the officer responded as he was trained to do, with the main thought of preventing a tragedy and a loss of life of the person who about to be assaulted.”
Notice, she did not tweet a condemnation or threat. Notice her caution that her thoughts were based on limited information. Notice her concern for both sides. In my opinion, this is the wisdom we need in the thoughtful manner we need on both sides of the aisle and all forms of the media. This is the thoughtfulness John Boehner points out is missing. This is the thoughtfulness we need if our country is going to move in a positive direction.
We are excited for the first of our grandchildren to get married this weekend.
I encourage those who know Tom Oyan to pray for him. He had surgery this week.