The Media and the Mob

By: Thomas Sowell | Posted: August 21, 2014 3:55 AM
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Those of us who admit that we were not there, and do not know what happened when Michael Brown was shot by a policeman in Ferguson, Mo., seem to be in the minority.

We all know what has happened since then -- and it has been a complete disgrace by politicians, the media and mobs of rioters and looters. Despite all the people who act as if they know exactly what happened, nevertheless when the full facts come out, that can change everything.

This is why we have courts of law, instead of relying on the media or mobs. But politics is undermining law.

On the eve of a grand jury being convened to go through the facts and decide whether there should be a prosecution of the policeman in this case, Gov. Jay Nixon of Missouri has gone on television to say that there should be a "vigorous prosecution."

There was a time when elected officials avoided commenting on pending legal processes, so as not to bias those processes. But Gov. Nixon apparently has no fear of poisoning the jury pool.

The only alternative explanation is that this is exactly what he intends to do. It is a disgrace either way.

Race is the wild card in all this. The idea that you can tell who is innocent and who is guilty by the color of their skin is a notion that was tried out for generations, back in the days of the Jim Crow South. I thought we had finally rejected that kind of legalized lynch law. But apparently it has only been put under new management.

Television people who show the home of the policeman involved, and give his name and address -- knowing that he has already received death threats -- are truly setting a new low. They seem to be trying to make themselves judge, jury and executioner.

Then there are the inevitable bullet counters asking, "Why did he shoot him six times?" This is the kind of thing people say when they are satisfied with talking points, and see no need to stop and think seriously about a life and death question. If you are not going to be serious about life and death, when will you be serious?

By what principle should someone decide how many shots should be fired? The bullet counters seldom, if ever, ask that question, much less try to answer it.
Since the only justifiable reason for shooting in the first place is self-protection, when should you stop shooting? Obviously, when there is no more danger. But there is no magic number of shots that will tell you when you are out of danger.

Even if all your shots hit, that doesn't mean anything if the other guy keeps coming and is still a danger. You can be killed by a wounded man.

Different witnesses give conflicting accounts of exactly what happened in the shooting of Michael Brown. That is one of the reasons why grand juries collect facts. But, if Michael Brown -- a 6-foot 4-inch, 300-pound man -- was still charging at the policeman, as some allege, there is no mystery why the cop kept shooting.

But, if Michael Brown was surrendering, as others allege, then there was no reason to fire even one shot. But the number of shots tells us nothing.

None of this is rocket science. Why bullet counters cannot be bothered to stop and think is a continuing mystery.

Among the other unthinking phrases repeated endlessly is "he shot an unarmed man." When does anyone know that someone is unarmed? Unless you frisk him, you don't know -- until, of course, after you have shot him.

The only time I ever pointed a firearm at a human being, I had no idea whether he was armed or unarmed. To this day, I don't know whether he was armed or unarmed. Fortunately for both of us, he froze in his tracks.

Was I supposed to wait until I made sure he had a gun before I used a gun? Is this some kind of sporting contest?

Some critics object when someone with a gun shoots someone who only has a knife. Do those critics know that you are just as dead when you are killed with a knife as you are when you are killed by a gun?

If we can't be bothered to stop and think, instead of repeating pat phrases, don't expect to live under the rule of law. Do you prefer the rule of the media and/or the mob?

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. 94305. His website is To find out more about Thomas Sowell and read features by other Creators Syndicate columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at


Tags: News, Columns

Comments (4)

Decisions are made at the Thursday night parties
8:57AM AUG 22ND 2014
Feb. 6, 2014 - Scott Rothstein wrapped up more than 8 1/2 hours on the witness stand Thursday by telling jurors that he is paying for his crimes and that everyone who helped him should own up and do the same. "You see these?" Rothstein said, rattling his handcuffed wrists in the air in front of him. "I'm in prison for 50 years — I will die there."
The defense for Christina Kitterman, an attorney who formerly worked for Rothstein, called the convicted Ponzi schemer who has cooperated extensively with federal prosecutors, to testify as a defense witness for Kitterman in her trial on federal wire fraud charges.
"We never called him to prove the truth of anything he said," Kitterman's defense attorney Valentin Rodriguez Jr. said after court Thursday. "The jury needed to know who he was and who he is today." Rothstein said he hopes that his cooperation with prosecutors — some of which he said involved working undercover and wearing a wire while dealing with armed criminals — will eventually persuade a federal judge to free him sometime before he dies.
But he insisted it wasn't affecting his honesty. His goals, he said, were to return the money he stole from "innocent victims" and to try to make the people who were involved in related crimes take responsibility for what he says they did. "That's the message, that's the takeaway of all this," Rothstein said.
" Kitterman had been in meetings where we were discussing illegal activity," Rothstein said, going on to explain why he chose Kitterman and sent her emails that he said clearly indicated he was involved in criminal acts. "I would never have sent this [email] to someone who was straight-laced and not in the game with me," Rothstein said.
Rothstein said he knew Kitterman could be trusted to commit crimes for him because they routinely "partied" and hung out together at what he called "THURSDAY NIGHT COUNCIL" with Mafia members and associates at Runway 84, a Fort Lauderdale restaurant.
Kitterman has pleaded not guilty to three wire fraud charges, each of which carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. She is accused of pretending she was a Florida Bar official on a phone conference call with Rothstein and some of his investors. According to the indictment, she posed as Adria Quintela, who at the time was the head of the Bar's Fort Lauderdale office, in a bid to get investors to hand over money to Rothstein.
Rothstein testified that she did not know about his Ponzi scheme but that she knew he was committing crimes and that she would be playing a role to help him out.
Friends in high places
4:27PM AUG 21ST 2014
The powers that be don't want any honest cops. What they want is controllable cops. Lake County, Fl - had an honest sheriff. In October 2006 he died in a Florida Sheriff's Youth Ranches charity bus race event.

His jail chief Gary Borders had been helping Mel Sember and Don Border FDOC Bridges of America vendor run their Green Isle Boys Ranch in South Lake County for over twenty years. Gary Borders had helped keep a lid on all their reports of boys rapes that leaked out over the year.

In October 2006 Mel Sember and the Villages developer Gary Morse called governor Jeb Bush and their friend Gary Borders was appointed Sheriff of Lake County - with a little help from Clint Curtis vote fixer chips that have been able to keep him there. Even though it was disclosed in 2010 sheriff Borders , the local state attorney and a circuit judge conspired to cover for their rapist friend who raped the last five know boys they were holding at their ranch.

As long as the people allow the shadow government to install their perverted, corrupted minions in law enforcement and other government positions we can expect this nation to head further to hades and the people to become more and more disgruntled with what they are forced to live with.
Friends in high places
4:30PM AUG 21ST 2014
Correction: That should read "Don Brown" FDOC Bridges of America vendor run their Green Isle Boys Ranch in South Lake County."
7:43AM AUG 21ST 2014
The real wildcard is peoples distrust of Law Enforcement. All to often the "good" cops cover for the "bad" ones. Thus destroying the reputation of the entire department and of all cops. There are indeed bad cops in Florida. Not all that many. some are good, most just want to do their job as best they can and go home to their families at the end of their shift. The south has a long history of bad cops, of rude and arrogant cops, of those who believe the ends justify the means. Until the good cops, the regular cops, refuse to cover for the bad ones, until they make the evil public and purge it from their departments, mistrust will remain. Until each and every Law Enforcement Officer makes "To Serve and Protect" more important than protecting he departments reputation, they are as responsible as those who violate the public trust!

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