Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Jeanne Assam, and Turning the Stampede
Who is Jeanne Assam, you say? She's a middle-aged cop who was working as a volunteer security guard at the New Life Church in Colorado Springs on December 9, 2007, when a murderous lunatic named Matthew Murray, who was wearing a flak-vest and toting two pistols and a rifle, began shooting up the parishioners as they left the church after services.
He killed two church-goers and wounded three others while the rest of the congregation fled back into the church. Jeanne Assam moved against the tide to get to the church door just as the lunatic was coming in. She drew on him and announced herself as a cop. He fired at her but missed as she ducked into cover. She fired twice, hitting him in the flak-vest, which knocked him down. He fired and missed again, she fired at him again -- higher, above the vest -- and took him down.
She was hailed as a hero in the local, county and state (not national, for some reason) media, but that didn't last long. The police department she worked for subjected her to sexual harassment, then fired her for trivial reasons when she filed a complaint. The state media then did an 'expose' about Assam losing her police job. An agent supposedly helping her write a book about the shooting 'accidentally' revealed to the New Life Church's pastor that she was a lesbian, whereupon the church she had rescued asked her to leave. The local media glibly reported that, too. The book deal dried up, no other police department in the state would hire her, and she wound up on Unemployment. To all accounts, she's still there.
For some reason, no other church seems to have drawn the obvious conclusion from this story. On June 17, 2015, a vicious racist named Dylann Roof sneaked into the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, shot up the church, killed nine people and wounded several others. He escaped, though he was caught and arrested later. There was no armed security guard, no Jeanne Assam, at that church to prevent the slaughter. The mass media never drew the connection between the two incidents, but commentators on the Internet did. A large and growing number of them spread the story, and there are rumors of churches making tentative offers to hire Jeanne Assam full time. Let's hope this is true.
But perhaps this is the reason that the national media haven't quite treated the Charleston church-shooting quite the way they usually cover mass shooting cases.
Oh yes, the papers, TV and radio stations have done the usual -- in fact, downright cliched -- emotion-stirring articles about the Horrendous Tragedy, with thumbnail biographies of the slain, weepy interviews with the survivors, et al. But this time there's a difference in direction. Usually, when following up a multiple-shooting story, the media quickly move into editorial demands for "reasonable gun-control", steering all that stirred-up emotion into political support for ill-thought-out and at least partly unconstitutional laws. This time, instead, the media homed in on Dylann Roof's blatant racism -- then broadened that into decrying modern racism in general, and finally narrowed their aim onto, if you please, public showing of the Confederate flag.
Now just how banning a piece of cloth, which has not commanded any troops nor had any power for more than 150 years, is supposed to reduce racism in America is a really puzzling question. All that this media campaign has done, really, is provide a target for all the emotion they so thoroughly stirred up. It has the feel of a stampede that the media started for one purpose, and then suddenly decided they had to turn away to another, harmless, use.
Could it possibly be that all those stories in the unofficial media -- blogs on the Internet -- about the 2007 shooting and Jeanne Assam, actually made the managers of the media stop and think? Could they possibly have realized that all recent polls have showed at least 57% of the population opposed to further gun-control laws and instead insisting on arming potential victims? Could they have guessed that the same old tricks wouldn't work in this case, and would actually make the public distrust them further? Could it finally have dawned on them that The Fourth Estate doesn't really have power -- the ability to force others to do one's will -- but only influence -- the ability to make others listen seriously to what one has to say -- and that if they continued to lie and manipulate so obviously, in the face of facts that everyone knows, that they just might lose that influence altogether? It has, after all, been more than a century since Hearst's newspapers were able to manipulate the US into waging a war; Americans today have a lot more sources of information, and are a lot more jaundiced and cynical, than they were back then. We'll know if they continue to pull in their horns on their formerly-cherished campaign for disarming the public.
It will also be interesting to follow up the story of Jeanne Assam in the next few weeks and see if she got a job again.
--Leslie <;)))>< )O(