Saturday, May 26, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio


Crime news seems to be report from book of fear

Some items while thinking Cubs fan Steve Bartman (he of the foul-ball incident) will join Mrs. O'Leary's cow in Chicago lore:

FEAR FACTOR: If I were a billionaire, I'd take my share of the Bush tax cuts and buy a copy of Bowling for Columbine for every household in the country. Say what you will about left-wing extremist Michael Moore, but his Oscar-winning documentary makes you think about the society in which we live.

He makes a compelling case for the genesis of the “culture of fear” in America. Guess what? He points a finger -- take a guess as to which one -- at the media.

Normally, I scoff when someone tries to “blame the media” -- just as I scoff when Republicans try to “blame Clinton.” But I have to admit, Mr. Moore built a damning case against my profession.

Memories of Bowling from Columbine, which I saw a year ago today (it impressed me so much that I kept the ticket stub), surfaced three days after reading an e-mail from loyal reader Debbie. I had a delayed reaction to her e-mail because a Toledo police officer had yet to shoot a man after a high-speed chase, a murder suspect had yet to pull a gun in the Lucas County jail, and a robber had yet to strike another local business.

The local media's coverage of those events was straight from the “culture of fear” textbook. Or so it seemed.

Shortly after watching one of the television reports, I made sure our home door was locked ... and then thought of Debbie's e-mail. (She wrote in response to last week's column, in which I described the feeling of coming full circle in Toledo, particularly with respect to downtown development. “The same issues get raised, and then dropped aside every 5 to 7 years,” she said.)

Toledo has a perception problem, she suggested.

“Downtown has to also address the fear people in outlying areas (including the 'burbs) have of `the City,'” she wrote. “As an attorney, I can't count the number of people who expressed a genuine fear of driving in Toledo, parking in Toledo, and -- gasp -- being out after dark. Maybe the media could also step up and report the good things going on after dark in the city with as much glee as the violence. By the way, we are still a very, very safe city compared to most.”

She's right -- Toledo is a safe city.

But that type of news conflicts with television's “if it bleeds, it leads” philosophy, which is a proven ratings winner. In his indictment, Mr. Moore claims “if it bleeds, it leads” is responsible for creating the “culture of fear” in America.

Mr. Moore also points a finger at the government. Certainly, a case could be made that the Patriot Act has taken the fear factor to the next level. It might as well be called the Don't Trust Thy Neighbor Act.

Be afraid (and suspicious), be very afraid (and suspicious).

SPIN CYCLE: Rush Limbaugh deserves praise for being “honest” with his listeners? Please. Only after the National Enquirer reported that he was addicted to painkillers did he divulge anything on his radio show. He had no choice. Thanks to Mr. Limbaugh's late entry, William Bennett is no longer a shoo-in for Hypocrite of the Year.

WHAT'S THE HURRY?: While walking to work the other day, I noticed a downtown business had Christmas decorations in its window. It's one thing for the holiday season to start before Thanksgiving, but before Halloween?

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