Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Well, no nap.

Rather, watching the aftermath of a terrible tragedy.

About the time I posted that last post, I turned on the television and FOX6 was reporting that several Birmingham policemen had been shot at in the Ensley area (west of downtown Birmingham).

After it was all said and done, it appears now that three officers were killed while either trying to serve a warrant or answer an emergency call.

In the intervening time, about two hours of coverage as the local news stations jockeyed back and forth trying to get their stories out.

FOX, NBC13, and ABC33/40 quickly had two or more reporters on the scene, each one demonstrating both the advantages and disadvantages of television news. Advantages--immediacy, and motion pictures. Disadvantages--absolute chaos in trying to piece together any sort of coherent idea of what's going on. In the same way that reporters imbedded with troops could only give a cloudy view of the action, the same with local emergencies. The reporters' obvious unfamiliarity with the locale, with police procedures, and with just plain critical thinking were out there for all to see, as well as was the fallback position by reporters and anchors of filling up time with mindless platitudes and misinformation.

As always, all of the anchors and reporters were breathlessly panicked about the weapon the murderer had used. It was initially reported as being an SKS "assault rifle," and then when they got information that it might have been an AK-47 "automatic assault rifle," they went into hysterical overdrive. Despite the fact that both use the same ammunition. And despite the fact that the round, although obviously deadly, is nowhere near as powerful as any of dozens of deer rifles. But so what, eh? Evil looking guns are by default deadlier. Then there was the spiel about how powerless the police bulletproof vests are against such powerful military rifles. True(ish)--it's not the rifle, though--most officers wear a vest designed to stop pistol rounds. Bulletproof vests that will stop rifle fire are big and bulky, and in 90 degree heat and humidity, are worn only when it's known that they will be facing someone with some firepower. One reporter grimly stated that it appeared the Birmingham police were just greatly outgunned. Oh, such crap.

Especially when the footage came up showing scores of shotgun, sniper rifle, and M-4 carbine-wielding tac squad officers when they arrived on the scene, helmeted and capable of taking on a small army. Thankfully, they did finally capture a suspect (as well as several other folks somehow connected to the case) after a search through a huge area of densely packed homes.

Notable by their absence in the coverage was the local CBS affiliate, who have lately made a big deal about their intentions to provide much more local coverage than ANYone else. Not a peep from them, not even a station break.

Of them all, probably the best (such as it is) was NBC13, who also managed to trump the other two with a companion story about an arrest going on at the same time in North Birmingham in Collegeville, possibly in connection to the shooting in Ensley. Not really better reporting, just a bit more timely.

Anyway, a very sad afternoon, and my thoughts and prayers to the families of the men who gave their lives in service to their community.

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