Monday, January 18, 2016

Missing the point: Pacific Centre edition

Holy hell, what a mess.

I know the adage that you should never read the comments section on news sites or YouTube, but with the Pacific Centre photographers still making the news, I couldn't help myself.

Today in the CBC article about a meeting with Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, the comments section made me pull my hair out, with popular posts seemingly missing the entire point of why Robertson was there, or why what happened was wrong:

Everyone has read something like this. Yes, they could be trolls - then again, how many people in your own life say the same things? How many media personalities, politicians?

Here's the thing: I'm as liberal as the next PC-loving SJW, but I have zero problem with the police following up on suspicious activity. Taking photographs at a mall, some pointed towards doorways and such? That would raise some alarm bells for me - and yes, I know, the "they wouldn't have been suspicious if they were white!" line comes out often, and maybe that is true and if so its an issue that should be addressed, because terrorists come in every colour and belief. Then again, that doesn't excuse the fact that it is suspicious activity, and I'm happier knowing the police are following up.

That however has no bearing upon what the actual issue here is, which the above commenters seem to have failed to grasp - the police should do their job, civilians should not be doing the police's job.

These unblurred photographs were leaked - leaked, not released - to the media, specifically VancityBuzz, which then proceeded to blow up the entire internet. It made those men a target not just for police, but for any person who has been subjected to the whipped-up media frenzy about Islamic terrorists around every corner. The police were quick to grab these guys and then release a statement to the media clearing everything up - but I ask, did they do did so because of their activities, or because they felt the pressure from the scared masses and I'm sure just a little bit of concern about the safety of possibly innocent people?

The fault here is not what the police did - it is the out of control fourth estate. These media organizations, especially the public-freakin'-broadcaster, should know better than to trumpet the identities of "suspicious persons" to a frightened public when the police have not released it themselves. What judgement does some backroom editor have that an officer or detective does not that gives them the insight to think releasing the photos of innocent people is a good idea?

Oh I know - because "the public has a right to know," though that is actually just a dressed up phrase for what they really mean: "the public should be watching/reading about this story so we get money."

This is their business model, and its just one of the reasons I personally can no longer watch TV news, as it is solely designed to input raw emotion, oftentimes fear and concern. The commenters above say its actually all about "vigilance," but at what point does it become too much, and your vigilance turns into paranoia? The way the media designs these stories is to drive you towards becoming obsessed and paranoid, its how they hook their viewing audience into staying, because who doesn't want to memorize the faces of people trying to kill you?

The ironic part? The media, which loves to hate on Trump and his kooky followers, created these people. They're the ones who pumped the public so full of fear and suspicions that it has become acceptable for a major political figure to consider banning Muslim immigration, or for a governing party to set up a snitch hotline for "barbaric cultural practices." Then they hook the other half of the audience into their stories by talking about how terrible it all is.

This cycle needs to stop, before the next Muslim photographer ends up with a fate far worse than those men.

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