Sunday, October 11, 2015

Is It Real Or Is It Media-Rex?

by Leslie Fish <;)))><

First off, my bona fides;  as my day-jobs, while working as a folksinger/filksinger and freelance writer, I've worked as an editor for two newspapers, three small magazines, a radio station, and four online publishers.  In that merry career I've learned to spot faked photographs, news propaganda, and a good bit of junk science.  I've learned that all news media are biased, to one degree or another, in one direction or another, and I've learned how to balance the biases so as to get a better approximation of the truth.  I also became a cynic, a practical political paranoid, and an Anarchist at an early age. I'm also convinced that our schools don't teach nearly enough Logic, Critical Thinking, or proper Investigative Journalism -- and our citizens desperately need those skills in an age of shameless public lying.  Bear that in mind.

That's why I didn't want to comment on the Umpqua College shooting until I got answers to three questions:

1) Did this incident really happen, or is it an elaborate Wag the Dog hoax?
2) If it did really happen, how much of it happened the way the news media reported it?
3) If it did really happen, then why -- out of 3000 or 35,000 students (media accounts vary) and several hundred staff -- was nobody on campus armed and capable of taking down the shooter before he'd killed,, 9 (media accounts varied before they settled on an acceptable figure) students?

To start with the first, yes that's a serious question.  We've seen, just over the past half century, several cases of politicians -- and governments at every level, and police departments -- and their media-flacks pulling off hoaxes (not to mention cover-ups) as big as this.  (Sometime watch the movie "Wag the Dog";  it's more accurate than you think.)  To start with, there's the Kennedy assassination;  after 50 years of almost-frantic propaganda, does anyone really believe that JFK was shot only once, and only from behind?  Then there was the Gulf of Tonkin caper, during the Vietnam War, which was thoroughly debunked -- years later, too late to prevent a hell of a lot of unnecessary bloodshed.  Then there was the Abu Ghraib hoax;  anyone who bothered to look up pictures of the real Abu Ghraib fortress could readily tell that those photos were faked -- as both the Army and the Red Cross later determined.  Then there was Bush's claim of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq -- hinting broadly of nukes, having officers come up with supposed clues of nuclear weapons.  The bitter irony of that one is that Saddam really did have a lot of Sarin gas, and had used it previously on the Kurds in his own country, as was readily proved by the survivors;  the lie was unnecessary, but Bush & Co. were so used to lying in public that they lied automatically even when the truth would have served them better.  Yes, we have seen hoaxes of this size before. 

So what evidence is there that the Umpqua shooting wasn't real?  First (as you can find if you search the gods-blessed Internet), students who were in the nearest class -- just across the corridor from that fatal writing class -- did not hear any gunshots.  Neither did they see any bodies or wounded students coming out of that classroom.  The first any of them knew of the incident was when the police came and herded them out of the school, into busses, and away to a "safe" center where their families could come pick them up.  The only people who claim to have actually been in that writing class and witnessed the shooting gave interviews that were distinctly... off.  For one thing, they were carefully dressed and made up and groomed -- after an ordeal like that.  For another, they all smiled and posed and carefully declaimed for the camera -- less like writing students who'd just missed being killed than like C-list actors hoping for their big break.  (Other cynics have already come up with a term for this: Crisis Actors.)  For a third, the story they told -- that the shooter first killed the teacher, then called up the students one by one, asked them what religion they were, then shot them dead if they said they were Christians but only wounded them in the legs if they said anything else -- was first hyped, and then carefully downgraded, by the media.  So was the alleged shooter's (no, I won't mention his name and add to his 15 minutes of fame) race;  first reports showed that his father was White and his mother was Black, and the first photos of him showed him looking distinctly Black -- but in later reports CNN carefully kept his mother out of sight and lightened his complexion.  Fourth, motive: this shooting is suspiciously opportune, and theatrical enough to inject new blood into the Democrats' sinking policy of gun-control.  Note how quickly the media did their usual whipping up of emotion to stampede the public into demanding that politicians DOOOO SOMETHING!!! (the most dangerous words you can say to a politician) to Stop The Slaughter.  Note how the usual pundits, including Obama himself, shamelessly took advantage of the shooting to make the usual vague promises of gun-control, including blatant lies (no, the US is not the "most violent" of countries, or even of "the western nations" or even in North America;  according to no less than the World Health Organization, the US is the 107th highest-ranking country in homicides).  Obviously, this incident was a welcome shot in the arm for the Democrats.  Also obviously, the media have a boilerplate script ready to hand for exploiting any shooting incident that comes along.

And then there's the curious case of Chris Mintz.  When the first reports of the Umpqua shooting came out, a lot of people began tweeting/emailing/phoning queries about why all the students in that class did nothing but sit like sheep, waiting to be called on, questioned and shot.  Even Ben Carson, hopeful GOP candidate, made a point of asking why nobody tried to stop the killer.  Very soon after that, the media started reporting the case of Chris Mintz;  he was supposedly in that class, and though unarmed, he charged at the shooter -- and was then shot seven times: in the back, in the abdomen, in both hands, and "both his legs were broken".  There's even a photo showing him being carried off on a gurney afterwards.  The problem with this story is that he survived being shot seven times with the same gun that had killed nine other students with single shots.  Almost instantly, a website was set up to appeal for money on the Internet to pay for Mintz's medical bills, and it has already raked in over half a million bucks.  The problem, as you can see at a somewhat-indignant website -- -- is that the photo shows Mintz stripped to the waist on his gurney, but he has no visible wounds or bandages.  He's lying on his back, and there's no sign of any bandaging for the supposed wound on his back.  Neither is there any bandaging on or near his abdomen.  Both his hands are visible, and there are no wounds or bandages on either of them.  His supposedly-broken legs aren't splinted, nor are there any support-boards under them.  His head is slightly raised, and the expression on his face has no hint of pain or stress or even paleness, such as would be expected if he'd lost blood from seven gunshot wounds.  How curious.

Apparently a few other people have such suspicions too, because I've already seen accusations of "False Flag" cropping up all over the Internet.  Likewise, the head of Gun Owners of America went through Obama's post-shooting speech, refuting his points and exposing falsehoods, line by line -- at GOA's website on the Internet.  Goddess bless the Internet;  it makes questions about media stories available to the public immediately and unfiltered, in contrast to snail-mail letters to the editor.  The public does not stampede so blindly and thoroughly as it used to, back when the only sources of current information were the official channels.

This might explain why the media have backed away from the Umpqua story and gone howling after an even more recent shooting, right here in Flagstaff, at Northern Arizona University.  Unfortunately for the usual pundits, this story doesn't lend itself to the usual stereotype.  A bunch of drunken frat-boys got into a fight on the frat-house lawn, and one of them walked away from the fight (sensible), but then went to his car and pulled out his gun (not so sensible), came back to the fight and shot four of the other frat-boys before he was grabbed and wrestled to the ground.  One of his victims died, the other three are in the hospital, and the drunken fool -- now considerably sobered -- was arraigned on murder and assault charges the very next day.  He was, his fellow students attest, lucky that he wasn't shot at the scene.  The only lesson to be drawn from this incident is the old, old news that guns (or any weapons) and alcohol make a bad mix -- especially when shaken and stirred in thoughtless young boys.

Now for my part I believe that something happened on the Umpqua campus, but whatever it was, the media hyped it to the sky for political purposes, namely pimping gun-control.  There probably really was a shooter, who really was (politically-incorrectly) half Black and was (although this was carefully not mentioned) probably a fundie-Muslim Jihadist, and he really did do that ritual of asking the students about their religions, killing the ones who admitted to being Christians and just wounding the rest.  That story was too bizarre to make up, and neither the government nor the media would want to invent such an "islamophobic" tale.  Just how he was finally taken down is still something of a mystery, and I don't believe the Chris Mintz story, no matter how much money he's raked in for telling it.

So the question I have left is: why, among all those students, was nobody armed, capable, and willing to take him down?  So far I've managed to find two answers.  The first comes from a student in another class who admits that he had a gun on campus, but chose to walk away with all the others because, if you please, he feared that if he went after the shooter himself, the police would shoot him.  This sounds like a reasonable story, especially considering the other answer: that although the school management had agreed to let students or staff who had concealed-carry permits bring their guns to school, the official policy for this wouldn't go through until next January.  That means, among other things, that the student who did have a gun wasn't quite carrying it legally, and didn't dare use it for another reason: that if the cops didn't shoot him, they'd at least arrest him. 

These answers all make depressingly good sense, given the state of current politics.