Friday, October 5, 2007

My Spin Control is Better Than Your Spin - Why Just Plain Truth Cannot Stand On Its Own

There are so many more takes now on what led to Jena, what happened in Jena and what will happen in Jena. Depending on who’s doing the commentary, the noose-hangers, the DA, the Jena 6, Justin Barker – hell the whole town - are either saints, sinners or somewhere in between. It all depends on the spin. Until a couple of months before the March on Jena, there was no national media coverage - network, print or radio – was even talking about what was happening in that small Louisiana town. That is, with the exception of Howard Witt, the lone American journalist whose May 2007 article in the Chicago Tribune is the reason I knew anything about the Jena story at all (THANK YOU Howard Witt!). I was so angry no one was talking about it much less doing anything about it. I read the story over the phone to my husband who was overseas at the time and said, “A school fight?? You know how this is going to turn out.” Witt’s June article led me to the Friends of Justice website and Alan Bean. As I read the comments from people in ENGLAND about the BBC documentary on the blog, I was absolutely shocked to find out that America’s shame was a bigger story “across the pond” than in her own backyard. Bean’s blog led me to the documentary. The Jena 6 had been arrested, charged as adults and five of them had been bailed out. Mychal Bell had gone to trial (on reduced charges) and been convicted by an all-white jury in virtual anonymity and here in the good ole U.S. of A., most of us were asleep at the wheel. Then, Black talk-radio got hold of the story and it blew up, culminating in that beautiful September 20th day when thousands (yes, THOUSANDS, I was there) marched on Jena for equal treatment under the law. There were national news outlets everywhere. And seven days later, Mychal Bell walked out into the sunlight after almost 10 months, most of which was spent in an adult prison facility. So you’re asking, “What does this chronology have to do with spin?” Let’s first take a look at the definition as it relates to this case. Spin (noun) - a special point of view, emphasis, or interpretation presented for the purpose of influencing opinion. Based on Jason Whitlock’s September 29th column (critical thinking requires I read him whether I agree with him or not), Alan Bean followed the definition to the letter. And not only is he absolutely right, Bean admits it. I’m a “just the facts ma’am” kind of girl - no embellishment, no framing, no spinning. I want to be able to evaluate information for myself and come to my own conclusions. But here’s the thing, were it not for Mr. Bean’s “spin,” there would’ve been no information to evaluate! No one else was writing or talking about these Black kids in that predominately white town which, as one resident pointed out early on “doesn’t have any problems with THEIR BLACKS.” No one else was writing or talking about this D.A., those excessive charges and how what was happening in Jena is happening all over America! Not Mr. Whitlock, not other Black writers like him, not affluent Blacks who hold court on “the problem with Black folks” in the bright media lights - No one!! I don’t know about you, but I prefer the opportunity to evaluate the “spin” rather than being assaulted by the internalized racism and self-hatred manifested in the shame-and-blame game played by Mr. Whitlock, et al. who continue to assist the powers that be in the divide and conquer tactics that are so counter-productive to our survival as a people. Engaging in spin control (noun) - the act or practice of attempting to manipulate the way an event is interpreted by others (after-the-fact) seems more Mr. Whitlock’s style. Do I think Alan Bean “gets” the BIG picture about racism and how it’s affected Blacks in America all these hundreds of years? No I do not. But he gets some very important parts of it and is trying to do something about it. Do I think he has a personal agenda? Absolutely! So does everyone else who’s been a public part of the Jena story. What that agenda is, remains to be seen and as my grandmother always said, “Whatever you do in the dark, will always come to light.” There is, however, one point on which Mr. Whitlock and I agree. Mr. Bean would do well not to underestimate either the gravitas or credibility of the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton. As he said in his blog, “…nobody is going to write a groundbreaking story about Jena, Louisiana simply because some white preacher told them to.” And thousands of Black people will not march nor lend the full weight of their support solely for that reason either. Oh! And why can’t just plain truth stand on its own? Because as Jack Nicholson’s character, Col. Jessep, in A Few Good Men so succinctly put it, Mr. Whitlock –“You can't handle the truth!”

4 comments:

Jimmy Shirley said...

""convicted by an all-white jury in virtual anonymity""

What do you THINK would have been the outcome if the jury had been all-Black?

Deb said...

I would think that ANY jury would not have been able to reach a verdict at all considering they were being asked to sentence a juvenile to an adult prison for a juvenile offense. But that's just me.

Jimmy Shirley said...

Deb said...
I would think that ANY jury would not have been able to reach a verdict at all considering they were being asked to sentence a juvenile to an adult prison for a juvenile offense. But that's just me.October 15, 2007 1:24 PM
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As much as I agree with the concept of jury nullification, most people do not know about this. Therefore, an all-Black jury would have had to judge according to the merits of the case. This is how the judge would instruct the jury.
You dodged the question, so please answer it.

Deb said...

Didn't dodge it. That was my answer. Thomas Jefferson said, "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution." The case had no merit, in my opinion, because it was being held in the wrong jurisdiction. But for the sake of argument, and I can only speak as if I were a juror, I would have definitely been a hold out on an attempted murder charge and opted for misdemeanor assault given the facts of the case as I know them. It seems you think no one wanted these kids punished. You are wrong. It was particularly the gross inequity of the punishment to the crime to which I object and the gross inequity in punishment of the noose-hangers in comparison. Our "American" experiences are different - always have been and apparently always will be - and as much as I wish people who feel the way you obviously do would just acknowledge wrong, unfairness and inequality and stand up for what is right, just and equal, I rarely, if ever, see it. And that is unfortunate. The beat just keeps going on......

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