“DEVELOPING: The people who write stories for Fox 4 News are toilet scum.”
Botham Shem Jean was shot dead in his Dallas apartment last week by an off-duty cop, Amber Guyger, who said she thought it had been her home. Hours later, the Dallas police obtained a warrant to search the victim’s house. They found weed.
The discovery was reported by Fox 4 News on Thursday.
— FOX 4 NEWS (@FOX4) 13 September 2018
That the local news outlet took this detail — which by right should be discounted as a non-sequitur — and turned it into a blaring, all-caps headline struck most observers as either galling insensitivity or an overture for victim blaming.
As someone pointed out-Did anyone check HER apartment? Drug test HER? She killed HIM!
— Patricia Arquette (@PattyArquette) 14 September 2018
The tweet provoked furious responses decrying both the portentous pot seizure and its absurd coverage by Fox 4 News.
DEVELOPING: The people who write stories for Fox 4 News are toilet scum https://t.co/k2KwDik2FT
— maura quint (@behindyourback) 14 September 2018
And underlying it all is a feeling that things wouldn’t have turned out this way if the racial image — a black victim and a white cop — were reversed.
What would happen if…
A black male cop entered the wrong apartment,”thinking it was his, then shot and killed an innocent white woman…
— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) 14 September 2018
Commenting on the raid and its coverage, Lee Meritt, a lawyer for Jean’s family, accused the police of fomenting a smokescreen.
“They went in with the intent to look for some sort of criminal justification for the victim. It’s a pattern we’ve seen before,” he told The Associated Press Thursday. “They went out specifically looking for ways to tarnish the image of this young man.”
Among liberals you’ll often hear condemnation of apparent racism exhibited by an increasingly militarized police toward black communities, and of the legal impunity which officers increasingly seem to enjoy. But conservatives often seek to play the role of skeptics.
In the Jeans shooting, though, the grotesque specifics — Guyger was at the end of a 15-hour shift when she claims to have accidentally entered the 26-year-old man’s home and, mistaking him for a burglar, shot him dead — combined with the attempts of law enforcement officials to mitigate the horror, have made even right-leaning commentators uneasy.
The fact that Guyger has been only charged with “manslaughter” (defined in Texas as “recklessly” causing the death of another person) was remonstrated against by National Review writer David French, who saw it as a stain on the impartiality of justice.
“We ask police officers to be brave. We ask officers to face a much higher degree of danger than civilians. We ask them to show restraint…,” he wrote. “But we also ask something else: that police officers be subject to the very laws they’re sworn to enforce.”
The totality of recrimination was reflected in the irregular ratio of likes (around 2,000) to comments (almost 40,000) on the original Fox 4 News tweet, which is usually suggestive of torches-and-pitchforks-based engagement.
Alex Griswold, a reporter for the conservative outlet Washington Free Beacon who has seen his share of internet hate, thinks the ratio might be a record.
Is this the record? pic.twitter.com/AKRrqT6AsP
— Alex Griswold (@HashtagGriswold) 14 September 2018
It’s insane to hope that social media outrage will be the thing to ultimately save us from our partisan cages. But there’s a modicum of reassurance in seeing that we can all still agree on some first principles.
Some things actually deserve the outrage they incur. Some things are just wrong.