By Brandon Butler, Director/Chief Instructor, TRS
As I have watched events unfold in very public incidents such as Ferguson, MO (and a few others come to mind), I got to thinking about how easily an individual’s life could be destroyed by the mob mentality of today’s society. Although this is post is somewhat of a rant and something apart from my normal posts, I do want make the point of what can externally effect someone who defends themselves when necessary and will give us all something to think about.
Today we have to deal with a constant and instant flow of information. Social networks, news agencies, smart phones and the abundance of access to all of these by most Americans is standard today, although not even a thought 20 years ago. This instant flow can create a flash fire of information and depending on the source the information, it can be totally fact based (rare), completely misleading (closer), or an outright lie (there we go). This has become the real root cause of outrage for many issues where facts have not been determined and assumptions take over. The ingredients of public perception and their emotional reaction is an explosive mix when combined with limited information, media distortion and public figures with a personal self-serving agenda. Yes, the beloved media and many public figures have been caught multiple times distorting the facts to increase their own exposure and self serving agendas.
I can remember not all that long ago the days of the great news anchors and public figures, days where less than credible information never made the news and one’s reporting was the credibility of their career. Bad information used to ruin, or at least slow, a career (ie: Geraldo Rivera and the Capone Vault). Today, every news agency has “BREAKING NEWS” on its headline regardless of what it is. Not too long ago the phrase “breaking” was for important “lets interrupt the entire country’s dinner” news. Headlines like when we landed on the moon, the Cuban missile crisis, or when a President was shot. Now it is lazy, repeated, non-researched, information fed from a central source. What happened to investigative reporting and vesting your source? What happened to the word of a reporter and the information he or she shared as being facts and not hearsay or simply made up?
It’s ironic how movie quotes can stick in our minds and reflect very well what we see. When I watched the first Men In Black movie, Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K) said to Will Smith’s character, (Agent J):
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.
This quote is very true. After seeing the reactions of our public in many instances of “mob mentality,” attacking others and looting and rioting…no better words can describe our current state of affairs.
If you watch the reactions related to the Ferguson shooting, you can see one thing: MISINFORMATION. People unwilling to educate themselves on facts and armed with only distorted information jump quickly to conclusions, and not always to the right ones. Rational thinking goes out the window and the lynch mob mentality returns to our streets; this, aided by our media and national roving characters, who incidentally are self-serving by inciting hatred and fear while moving from one incident to the next. One has to question the morality and ethical responsibility of these individuals who wouldn’t have a job making millions if what they were “fighting” for ever actually came to be and the media that gets higher ratings through reporting civil unrest and promoting a particular agenda.
Now, back to my main point, if a person is involved in an altercation that involves the use of deadly force, that person may be instantly seen as a victim or as a villain. This all depends on what the news agencies picking up the story need in ratings and what certain public figures need for attention. If you happen to fall on being portrayed on the villainous side, better be prepared for the worst to be directed at you, your family and your friends; and, if you don’t make a good villain…well let’s just say that wouldn’t make good ratings.