By John Bear
And Now for Something Completely Irrelevant
The other day a news channel that shall remain nameless ran a story about a nice man who is accused of setting several vehicles on his property ablaze in an aborted attempt to murder his family.
The fire damaged a neighbor’s garage, destroyed a recreational vehicle and ruined an otherwise lovely spring evening. The intended victims suffered minor smoke inhalation and were treated and released from the scene. It was a typical night in a small New Mexican community, nothing special.
But the follow-up story the station ran later that day led with the stunning revelation that the suspect might be an illegal immigrant. Not "is," mind you, but "might be."
This information would normally squat at the end of a news story, a brief reference to an immigration hold, something noncommittal, if it was included at all.
... even a story about, say, puppies can spark an immigration “discussion.”
But since the issue has flared like some political hemorrhoid, immigration status waves a banner up front. It's fun and sensational.
The comments section on the station’s website, of course, was immediately peppered with unpleasantness from anonymous racists. That is nothing special because even a story about, say, puppies can spark an immigration “discussion.”
Check out the thread on a story—any story—if you don’t believe me. More often than not, a few comments down the line, the subject will switch from how cute puppies are to how Barack Obama is destroying America by letting “illegals” take all the sweet biochemical engineering jobs. I’m just kidding about that last bit; Internet racists can't be expected to know what a biochemical engineer is.
I envision most of these commenters to be slithering, frothing at the mouth and utterly despicable like villains in a John Grisham novel but with severe amotivational syndrome that confines them to their computer chairs 23 hours a day. That’s how I like my extremists—fat and lazy.
Insinuating the guy in the fire story is an illegal immigrant, while inciting the e-bigots, is entirely irrelevant. The fact of the matter is the guy is accused of dowsing the perimeter of his home in gasoline and trying to barbecue his relatives.
A grudge arsonist and probable alcoholic is a bad person whether he (or she) was born in Cleveland or Ciudad Juárez or Constantinople.
If the television is going to go for the cheap thrills (and by all means, go for the cheap thrills, I know I do), don’t muck it up with the immigration issue. It’s too complicated for a 30-second sound bite and only serves to get dumb people riled up. Who knows, maybe one of them will read—slowly, sounding out each word—the story and go bomb a busload of school children. I’m betting that Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City Bomber, watched a lot of network TV news. Just a theory. Nice work, guys.
Bottom line: It's fine to be mad at this hooligan for trying to cook his family, as police say. But when the immigration issue gets dragged in, it only serves to make people mad at all immigrants. The press should stop giving right-wing cretins fuel for their hate fire.
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
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