Tuesday, January 17, 2006

"They went thataway!"

It's interesting to watch the Houston daily tiptoe through its own political correctness mine field.

When it comes to "identifying" crime suspects, the paper doesn't like to include the suspects' race unless there are other descriptors that provide more detailed information.

This never had made sense to me, since skin color is one of the most obvious descriptors available. Like I've said before, if someone's terrorizing my neighborhood I'd like to know everything possible about them, even if all the police know is that they're black, white or brown. At least it's something.

But, as the newspaper's reader rep has explained in the past, there are too many people out there "keeping score," which I think means if some crime suspects are identified as "black" or "African-American" then all law-abiding people of color are immediately put under suspicion.

Anyhow, some bad guys yesterday smashed a jewelry case and took off with some Rolex watches at Memorial City Mall in Houston.

The paper reported it like this:

The men are described as 20 to 30 years old and between 5 foot 5 and 5 foot 10. Two of them had braided hair.

Am I wrong or does the "braided hair" part imply these suspects are African American? I've seen a few white guys with braided hair (none down here in B'port I'll have you know) but it's pretty much a style favored by young African American males, right?

Is saying they have "braided hair" just some sort of code so that the rest of the jewelry store owners in Houston know that two of the bad guys are African American, but leaving out the apparent fact that they are indeed African American somehow is going to keep readers who are "keeping score" from mounting their racist bully pulpit?

It gets confusing. That's all I know.

But watching the journalism balancing act is always entertaining.


ttyler5@hotmail.com said...

I don't know, maybe they are just really ugly girls!

Squire said...

why do you wanna know skin color of the offenders.. are you collecting any statistics.. about crime based on skin color?

Banjo Jones said...

no, not collecting statistics. but why give any description whatsoever unless you're going to give a full description, including race? i guess the paper could have just said 4 men held up the jewelry store without going into their height and age-range.

but i wouldn't argue that less is more in this case. don't you think the average reader would like to know everything they can, if they're bothering to read the story in the first place? maybe the story shouldn't have even been in the paper. is it newsworthy? the paper seemed to think it was. so if it's newsworthy, why suppress the description of the bad guys the committed this "newsworthy" crime?

and, like i said, if a crime story concerns my neighborhood, i'd want a full description for my own self-interest. so i'd know who to be on the lookout for in case i needed to make a citizen's arrest or hide in the closet, whatever the case may be.

Slampo said...

This is interesting, because in a recent story on the killing of a Bellaire H.S. kid ove a drug deal in a SW Houston park, the paper included a paragraph that police were seeking 2 black males in connection with the crime. Think it was in Sunday or Monday's paper. So I guess this non-ID policy is flexible, maybe depending on the editor or writer ... or how bad they wanna help apprehend the suspects.

Anonymous said...

Willie Nelson maybe?

Anne said...

Pippi Longstocking.

Banjo Jones said...

Possible solution: eliminate all descriptors.

As in: "4 people robbed a jewelry store ..."

No gender, no height or weight, nothing. That way, no men are offended, no short people, tall people, fat people, skinny people. Everybody's happy.

ttyler5@hotmail.com said...

I am very glad I took the braid out of my ponytail!