Friday, July 3, 2015

Cultural Neuroses

Something that a friend of mine first alerted me to, and which I have been consistently noticing since, is that when news networks report crimes, they have been omitting racial descriptions about eighty percent of the time.  All one has to do is watch any nightly local news broadcast, and one will see this pattern. 

Case in point:  Last night, July 2, 2015, on KNBC’s 11:00 o’clock news, Beverly White reported from somewhere in Orange County's City of Santa Ana that a middle aged Hispanic man was sitting in front of his residence when a young man walked up to him and asked him if he had a car phone charger.  As the Hispanic man started to answer, the hooded black youth (his appearance obvious from security footage broadcast as part of this news segment) beat the Hispanic man, who tried to fight back, but was knocked onto the ground by the suspect.  The attacker then grabbed the middle aged man’s necklace that his ex-wife had given to him, valued at $1500, while the suspect ran off along with another black youth playing the role of lookout on a bicycle riding off with him. 

I want to insert here before I continue, I have always felt that Beverly White is probably THE best on-scene reporter that this city has, period.  The lady is everywhere and in every kind of weather or chaotic condition, and when she speaks, I listen.  When there is a fire in Canyon Country, she is standing in front of it, with precision, machine-gun like demeanor, reporting on all of the hard facts.  When there is fatal hit and run in South Los Angeles, she has already been talking to the Sergeants on scene and gives us what we need to know with her Jack Webb sterility.  And, when there is the rare rain downpour in Los Angeles, Ms. White is over in Baldwin Park as transformers are exploding, or she is down in Long Beach dutifully turning in her segment on the mass flooding of the Los Angeles River and surrounds at thirty minutes to Midnight with her Robert Mitchum deliberateness.  And in the meantime, my mind always calculates her evening to come.  She and her camera guy have to do the forty-five minute drive back through the sheets of downpour to the studios in Universal City.  With all of this, Ms. White’s reports are still the most clear, crisp, and the most professional on scene segments that I have ever seen on television.  I greatly respect this reporter.  Eat your hearts out, Clarrisa Ward, Holly Williams and Carter Evans!

And so, last night, I was thoroughly disappointed when at the end of Ms. White’s report on the attacked and beaten Hispanic gentleman, she described both of the suspects; their approximate height, weight, what they were wearing, the types of jackets they had on, and, seriously, even the color of one of their hats.  But nowhere in her description was any indication of their physical race or skin color.  Southern California is a melting pot of a whole lot of races; I concede that.  And I myself am exactly one-half Filipino, one-quarter Greek, and one-quarter Irish, with a Jewish last name.  And God only knows that each of my three ethnicities comprise a whole lot more in the way of ingredients than I’ll ever know.  People can’t figure out exactly what I am.  So, it’s not always with definitiveness that one can say that a person seen on a black and white security videotape is Filipino, Caucasian, black or Hispanic.  But one is able to describe what they look like.  And what is the purpose of a police description, or a news broadcast description of a suspect if reporters redact any physical appearance of suspects?  I mean, come on guys!

I don’t solely blame Beverly White for this because this occurrence is something that continually occurs in news broadcasts, and it’s either a network (NBC) guideline, or it is a larger media industry induced guideline.  I can think of now scores of these deletions.  There was a jewelry store in the Glendale Galleria that was smashed and grabbed of Rolex watches and such about a year ago.  Again, the 11:00pm news broadcast described everything about these black suspects except for any physical description of their race.  They even described the exact footpath that the suspects took out of the Galleria mall. 

My point is that the political correctness of the news and of our society is gotten out of hand if sensitivity to races has crossed the line of not even giving out descriptions of suspects to the public.  Why give them out then at all if there isn’t a hope of trying to apprehend them?  Why ever report on it?  A physical and racial description is such basic information to disseminate when a crime has been allegedly committed.  Is the thought that too many descriptions of black, Hispanic, Asian, white, whatever, suspects in crime reports will ingrain stereotypes of those ethnicities or races, and that, therefore, they will lose viewership, or be continually pressured by cultural advocacy groups that they turn belly up and change how they report the news to the detriment of everyone’s awareness and safety? 

We’ve obviously just gone through a terrible time of the horrible racist South Carolina shootings of the good people or the AME church, so everyone is a little on edge. But the non-reporting of racial descriptions in the news has been going on for at least the last year or so that I have been aware of it.  If those cultural advocacy groups really want the media to stop reporting crimes about the people for which they advocate, then their time would be much better spent devoted to creating more strength in family life.  Ah, hey advocacy people, the Los Angeles County of Department of Child and Family Services is literally drowning in cases; they could use your help.  Advocates’ time would be much better used in creating educational and occupational opportunities for these American groups, rather than threatening media and businesses with boycotting in order to suppress the reality that is happening on a daily basis out there. 
To me, it’s similar to when I hear of advocacy groups for illegal aliens.  What???  If those advocacy groups want to do some good, then they should go help those LEGAL Americans who are already here, such as legal struggling black families in South L.A., or legal struggling Hispanic families in East L.A., or legal struggling white families in the Antelope Valley, who could use some assistance, training, and some advocacy.  What? These niches aren’t important enough to them that they have to go find a group of people who have broken U.S. law to advocate for?  That clearly doesn't make any sense to me at all because it’s a complete misuse of focus and resources.

Getting back to political correctness, Jerry Seinfeld was on a late night program this past month of June along with the editor of the New Yorker, David Remnick.  After Jerry slid over to the guest section of the couch, as Remnick became the second guest on the show, Jerry was reminded of something that had been eating away at him.  He too had realized that we’ve all gotten overly politically correct.  He described a joke that he has told during his stand up’s having to do with how people’s diverted attention to scrolling up and down their cell phone contacts reminds him of a gay French king whimsically looking for something to entertain himself.  And what Jerry has been finding is that during this joke, the audience pulls back a little from him.  Jerry said that when one does stand up, the connection with the audience is more than palatable, and one can feel the oscillations and vacillations between the audience and the comedian’s connection as the set goes on.  Seinfeld felt that if this is happening during a stand up routine, a time during which the audience member pretty much willingly suspends any disbelief, then we as a society have become much too politically correct. 

Neurosis is partially defined as beliefs or behaviors, which begin to impinge on one’s daily functioning.  This political correctness is definitely a neurosis having, at the very least, set in upon the news media, and I think is starting to negatively affect our society as a whole.  Not addressing the problems of broken family life and lack of educational opportunity, and instead, trying to sweep the results under the rug isn’t going to help anyone.  An awareness of sensitivity to others unlike us, be that of races, sexual orientation, or religion, is extremely healthy for our society, and it’s the only way that we can live together.  But when we find ourselves reflexing to a standpoint of not even being authentic to our surroundings, well then, we’ve gone too far.  Just watch the 11:00 o’clock news tonight; you’ll see what I mean.