“We the people” must practice what we preach

Why hypocrisy in the media is sending the wrong message

I’m going to preface this column the best way I know how: I AM NOT ADVOCATING VIOLENCE OF ANY KIND.

With that out of the way, I’ve seen a lot of hypocrisy lately on social media and in the news regarding how demonstrators are protesting against the police brutality – namely, in the city of Baltimore.

The media is showing us violent images of protesters in Baltimore in the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray at the hands of police. The media shows rioting, looting and destruction of property and all people can say is “What does destroying your community prove?” or “Violence isn’t the answer.”

I agree. I don’t believe a violent response is the best course of action, but there are a few things about the situation that upset me.

It seems to me that people are more upset by cars burning and stores being looted than by a man who was senselessly brutalized by someone who was sworn to protect and serve the American public. Unfortunately, Freddie Gray’s death isn’t an isolated incident in that sense.

Freddie Gray was stopped by police and literally beaten to death. Where was the national outrage then? Where was everyone saying that violence wasn’t the answer when Gray’s spine was broken on the pavement? Where was everyone then? It seems to me that we as a society place a higher value on property than the lives of our fellow Americans.

Furthermore, I find it hypocritical that people are so quick to say that violence doesn’t solve anything while our tax dollars go towards funding the longest war in the history of the United States. We call the people protesting a murder “thugs” and “degenerates” while we kill thousands of people overseas.

When Kentucky lost in the NCAA Tournament, people flipped cars, rioted, started fires and burned buildings. When that happened, it was just “college kids feeling strongly about their team.” I can’t begin to tell you how many times I see people destroy property when their teams lose sporting events, but when the people protest the – in many cases – unlawful death of people of color in this country, then it’s too much.

I also believe the media isn’t doing a great job of objectively covering what is truly going on in the city of Baltimore.

The media isn’t reporting the allegations of bystanders shouting profanities at protesters. The media didn’t report how gang members in Baltimore put aside their differences and ended their tradition of animosity toward one another to unify peacefully and protest.

To make matters worse, you have news reports using micro-aggressions to cast the protestors in a negative light, calling protestors “thugs” and “animals” – which to me are the 21st century substitutions for a more offensive term.

I’d like to end with one final question: Who should you really beg to be nonviolent? The people destroying property or the people destroying lives?

James Battle is the assistant features editor and can be reached at james.battle@ubspectrum.com