A lesson in how not to win friends and influence people

cops

One could speculate on how the above made it into a newspaper – mischief, a prank gone awry, subliminal loathing of law enforcement – but of all the mistakes I’ve seen printed in newspapers over the years, and there have been many, this has to take the cake.

The comment was attributed to Hardin County Sheriff John Ward by the Elizabethtown (KY) News-Enterprise in a story that appeared on the front page of paper on Jan. 8. Ward denied making any such comment and stated that what he said was officers go into law enforcement “because they have a desire to serve the community.”

The paper, which retracted the statement, initially called the misquote a typographical error, but later blamed it on a production mistake.

The media blog jimromensko.com investigated and was told that two copy desk staffers – 23 and 32 years old – had been fired.

“One wrote the ‘shoot minorities’ line on the page proof as a joke and the second – in charge of the front page – put it in the story,” according to the blog.

It’s telling that reporter Anna Taylor was not fired. Editor Ben Sheroan explicitly stated in an editorial posted Thursday afternoon that Taylor was not responsible for the mistake.

“A function and process designed to rid the news pages of error instead added a terrible one that altered the reporter’s original sentence,” Sheroan stated. “No reasonable excuse can exist.”

Ward said the interview was conducted with another member of the Hardin County Sheriff’s Office present and there was no part of the interview that mentioned any related comments.

“I have served in law enforcement for 30 years and have never known any officers that had these motives,” he said in post on the department’s Facebook page.

One imagines folks at a certain central Kentucky newspaper have been pouring over their media liability insurance policy quite closely the past day or two.

Dirtbag desecrates Civil War veteran’s grave

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Grave robbing may not rank up there with murder, rape or assault with a deadly weapon, but there seems something particularly heinous about the crime. One supposes an individual willing to disturb the dead has, in all likelihood, little respect for the living, either.

It’s unclear how often this reprehensible act takes place, but it likely occurs more than most of us realize.

Among the most recent cases is one that came to light earlier this month in Georgia.

Nearly 150 years after a Confederate officer succumbed to disease contracted during the War Between the States, his remains were desecrated and dug up from a Crawford County cemetery.

First Lieutenant James Alexander Nichols of Company F of the 57th Georgia Infantry Regiment died from dysentery on Nov. 9, 1866, and was buried in Old Bethel Methodist Church Cemetery in west-central Georgia.

More than likely, Nichols’ remains were disturbed by a cretin looking for artifacts, such as uniform buttons or similar items. Many men who served in the Civil War, particularly those who died during or just after the war, were buried in their uniforms.

The Crawford County sheriff, Lewis Walker, said he was initially unsure why someone would disturb the grave, but, in a comment showing remarkably little intuition, said he was “hoping family members of the deceased might have ideas.”

Last year, two Georgia men were arrested and charged with grave robbing after the remains of five Confederate and Revolutionary soldiers were disinterred in Burke County, Ga., which is due east from Crawford County, on the border with South Carolina. Both men were later sentenced to five years in prison.

According to records, Nichols was elected brevet second lieutenant for Company F, 2nd Regiment, Georgia State Troops on Oct. 14, 1861. He was mustered out in 1862 and elected second lieutenant for Company F of the 57th Georgia on May 3, 1862, in Savannah. He was promoted to first lieutenant on Jan. 11, 1863.

Nichols was surrendered at Vicksburg on July 4, 1863, and paroled three days later. According to terms of his parole, Nichols agreed not to “ … take up arms again against the United States, nor serve in any military, police or constabulary force in any Fort, Garrison or field work, held by the Confederate States of America, nor as guard of prison, depots or stores, nor discharge any duties usually performed by Officers or soldiers, against the United States of America, until duly exchanged by the proper authorities.” Continue reading

Bellicose man in zebra outfit gets 90 days for drunken antics

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In the nearly 20 years of daily journalism I never had the pleasure of penning a quote as delicious as that which appeared in last week’s Edmonton Journal.

“Grappling with a drunk zebra is not the easiest thing in the world,” John Huget told the publication, referring to brawl he was forced to engage in earlier this year after a “confused and extraordinarily drunk” Marshall Ron Mann, garbed in sunglasses, a baseball cap and full-body zebra costume, wandered into Huget’s home.

Mann had been at a costume party earlier in the evening, then had taken a taxi. He thought he had made his way to a friend’s house, but wound up at a row of duplexes that looked alike.

Huget found the striped intruder in his living room at 1:30 a.m., as Huget’s wife and newborn daughter slept nearby.

According to the Journal, the situation quickly turned violent when Mann refused to depart.

“When I told him he had to leave, he got hostile with me,” Huget said. “He said no.”

The situation quickly deteriorated. Mann threw a drunken punch that glanced off Huget’s face. The pair struggled and Huget eventually forced Mann back outside and onto the lawn while his wife called police.

Once outside, the 24-year-old Mann proceeded to urinate on Huget’s tree. Along the way, Mann dropped his wallet, allowing Huget to call and inform a 911 dispatcher as to the belligerent zebra’s identity.

This didn’t sit well with Mann, who charged Huget, arms swinging.

“He eventually got tired of trying to punch me and started biting me,” Huget, 32, said. “Grappling with a drunk zebra is not the easiest thing in the world.”

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CNN noted for diligent efforts to ignore journalism protocol

CNN parody

MAD magazine’s latest issue, titled “The 20 Dumbest People, Events and Things of 2014” includes the above graphic, which focuses on CNN’s relentless – and some might argue, mindless – coverage of Flight 370, the Malaysia Airlines flight which disappeared on March 8 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

In the wake of the disaster, CNN proceeded to devote hundreds of hours hypothesizing about the fate of the flight, filling air with random speculation, countless “experts,” many of whom really had little to offer viewers other than the fact that they had no idea what happened, and a number of truly bizarre theories.

Among “lowlights“: A CNN anchor asking a former U.S. Department of Transportation inspector general if a black hole might have sucked the plane out of the sky; and the idea that something “supernatural” happened to the flight.

Yes, other networks didn’t acquit themselves much better in their coverage of Flight 370, but CNN certainly seemed most desperate to make a silk purse out of sow’s ear.

Expect more of the same when the one-year anniversary of the flight’s disappearance rolls around in three months.

(HT: jimromenesko.com)

Yemeni man takes himself out of ‘Father of the Year’ competition

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While there were many times my own parents likely felt the need to, as they say, “drop the bomb” on me during my formative years, they were on the whole quite subdued in their response to my youthful antics.

The same cannot be said for a Yemeni father who recently attempted to end his sons’ disobedience by tossing two grenades at them when they were at his house.

Earlier this month, according to police, the unidentified father, age 70, ran out of patience with his sons’ failure to abide by his instructions.

“After exhausting many methods of discipline, the father decided to bomb them,” according to gulfnews.com.

Shortly after his sons entered his house in the Yemeni capital of Sana’a, the father threw the grenades in.

Hand grenade: Generally not effective as means to discipline children.

Hand grenade: Generally not effective as means to discipline children.

According to the Yemeni ministry of interior’s official website, the sons, aged 22 and 30, suffered shrapnel wounds in their legs, and were being treated in a hospital in the capital.

Police arrested the dad.

Among the many troubling questions raised by this account – besides the fact that someone would attempt to use an explosive device as a form of disciple:

Who throws grenades into his own house? Just how easy is it to procure explosives in Yemen? What other forms of discipline did the father attempt before turning to the tried and trusted hand grenade?

Hopefully the dysfunctional clan will have things patched up by the time Ramadan rolls around next summer.

11-year-old me on why ancient man steered clear of Office Depot

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Word is we had a lunar eclipse down our way early this morning. The event offered me an opportunity to recall how utterly obtuse I was 40 years or so ago.

Last night, as I dropped my girls off at their mother’s house, we discussed the eclipse. They explained how they were considering getting up around 5 a.m. to view the unusual celestial occurrence. They had a basic understanding of what caused the event and were excited to see it.

As I drove home, I recalled that when I was the age of my youngest daughter, 11, I not only didn’t understand what an eclipse was, I was utterly unfamiliar with the word. As evidence, I can recall the first time I heard about the concept of an eclipse.

My mother was attempting to explain that people can be afraid of that which they do not understand and was describing how ancient societies were often very superstitious and fearful of rare phenomena. Among things that confused and frightened prehistoric people, she explained, were eclipses.

As I was unacquainted with the word, and not a particularly bright 11-year old, my ears only caught the second part of the word, “clips,” and my mind immediately wandered to “paper clips.”

With an ignorant arrogance not unknown among 11-year-old boys, I immediately thought, “Wow, what a bunch of morons – afraid of paper clips! Ha! Ha! Ha!” Mind you, I wasn’t confident enough in this anthropological assessment to voice this view to my mother; I simply sat there in smug, silent awe that a group of people could be afraid of office supplies.

Sure, paper clips could be exasperating when they got all looped together, and they could cause some really agony if the end of one got under a fingernail, but any society that was afraid of paper clips must have been a pretty pathetic one, I reasoned.

Looking back, I don’t know at what point I finally learned what an eclipse actually was, or at what point I realized what it was my mother had been talking about, but some years later I made the connection that I’d been off base – way off base.

Needless to say, my girls – who are a bit wiser and certainly more intuitive than their father was at their age – always get a chuckle out of that story. And there’s certainly no shortage of similar tales for me to regale them with. I guess that’s one of the few benefits of having been a dense kid.

(Top: Lunar eclipse seen earlier this year. Not pictured: Paper clip.)

Amazon.com: Saving us from ourselves, one cartoon at a time

tom and jerryMedia outlets are reporting that Amazon Prime Instant Video is warning subscribers who view old Tom and Jerry cartoons that the venerable series may depict scenes of “racial prejudice.”

The cartoons, produced between 1940 and 1957, are being tagged by Amazon for its depiction of a black maid and for the use of blackface in some episodes.

Tom and Jerry: The Complete Second Volume is accompanied by this warning: “Tom and Jerry shorts may depict some ethnic and racial prejudices that were once commonplace in American society. Such depictions were wrong then and are wrong today.”

Amazon’s warning says such prejudice was once “commonplace” in US society, according to the BBC.

The warning was attacked as “empty-headed” by sociology professor Frank Furedi of the University of Kent, who said it was a form of a “false piousness” and a type of censorship which “seems to be sweeping cultural life.”

“We’re reading history backwards, judging people in the past by our values,” Furedi said.

Tom and Jerry was a longtime mainstay on American and British children’s programming, and can still be seen today.

However, it does seem rather difficult to believe that there’s a need to attach a warning to a children’s cartoon that identifies the stereotyping of blacks as wrong. Blackface is pretty much accepted as verboten in our culture today and has been for several decades.

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