Saturday, April 17, 2010

Possible vs. Probable

NOPD releases a much more descriptive report on the French Quarter "Political" Beating of a young GOP staffers on their way out of a Bobby Jindal fundraising dinner.

The police are still investigating, and the possibility that the attack was politically motivated still exists. The possibility that the assailants were somehow associated with the SRLC protesters still exists, even though all the video and photographic evidence from the protest shows no illegal activity and close attention from the NOPD. The possibility still exists that the assailants were associated with the Iron Rail Book Collective, which the Hayride has focused upon.

But possibility does not equal probability.

What we do know is that a young couple was brutally assaulted in the French Quarter, and such assaults are never acceptable. Especially in this city, as we bear a very difficult burden with crime here. We know that the investigation was slowed with both the authorities and the media by assumption and dismissal of the incident as simply a French Quarter fight, which truly demonstrates a tragic state of affairs that can and should be the larger focus and context of this incident. This has added emphasis when considering how unusually violent last weekend was around this town.

The positive element is that news flashed around the new media with incredible speed; the new media is also bringing tremendous pressure for this crime's continued investigation. The impact of such attention cannot be ignored.

However, the message that "we are all at risk from crime" has been lost. Overpowering it is the higher popularity and more incindiary narrative of framing crime within the scope of political violence in this country. My strongest concern with Hayride's coverage is the absolute marginalization of real issues in New Orleans as the concerns of a small cadre of self-proclaimed anarchists. I have additonal concerns that advocates of these real issues are being linked to political violence without strong or demonstrable evidence.

The restoration of Charity Hospital, political opposition to budget cuts at UNO, and support for health care reform are deeply debated issues by the body poltic in New Orleans. These are issues that have put a variety of people into the streets to oppose actions of the government, and will continue to do so. You would think groups affiliated with the Tea Party would be more sympathetic to such protests, placard waving, and public assembly even if they are not sympathetic to the politics.

Viewing the coverage of this event on the right-wing blogs has also demonstrated a more jarring disconnect involving what some right-wingers believe is physically threatening talk from the left. "Katrina was a hurricane, capitalism is the disaster" is not a physical threat against anyone; it is a pithy ultra-left wing cliche that makes very little sense to the reality-based community. Involvement with a George Soros based foundation does not equate to second-degree assault. The videos of the actual SRLC protest showed a peaceful, informed if opinionated, police monitored street demonstration (thankfully Hayride does make this point again and again).

But there's tremendous ado about the "You say cut back, we say fight back" chant. I find this disingenous at best from folks who affiliate themselves with a former VP candidate who denotes political opponents on the internet with graphic sniper target sights, exhorts her followers to "reload" and makes fun of people who have a problem with those obvious gun metaphors by making jokes out of the word "shoot" to uproarious laughter.

It unnerves me that "Save Charity Hospital" is viewed by some on the right as more physically threatening than "reload." That so many of my conservative friends and family utterly fail to conceptualize my concern over such views only exacerbates the problem.

Words matter. The coverage of this French Quarter assault proves why.

But that is a secondary concern, let us not miss the point here: two young people were assaulted on the streets of a great city, on a weekend bathed in violence around said city and around the country. Such assaults are never justified. They are not OK.

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