The silence is killing you

In Wisconsin, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen has told the entire town of Crandon, Wisconsin to shut up. Van Hollen says he was just passing along the wishes of the victims’ families in the town where, authorities believe, 20-year-old Tyler Peterson, an off-duty deputy and part-time Crandon police officer, gunned down six people, including his ex-girlfriend.

The media, as you might expect, isn’t happy. The Wausau Daily Herald said, “No one has the authority to suggest that an entire community remain silent. And by refusing to release information, Van Hollen essentially is trying to stifle questions and answers.”

You mean like how is it a person capable of blowing away a bunch of kids ended up in law enforcement in the first place? Good question. If not the reporters, is anyone in Crandon asking it and, if so, how would anyone know?

A comment posted to the editorial above, makes an interesting point:

“Its only inconveinient (sic) when it happens to YOU. But we want someone to go shred the Jema 6, or go after this candidate.

“You want the reporters to be civil and understand, but when you want them to go after something you rip them for not covering it hard enough.”

The wishes of victims of terrible tragedy need to be respected, but to what point? In Minneapolis just a few weeks ago, for example, a bridge was closed and people — and that includes the media — were kept away from the I-35W bridge collapse, ostensibly — we were told by a law enforcement official, we never heard heard it directly from the families — because it was the wish of the families.

There’s nothing wrong, of course, with asking for civility on the part of journalists covering any story. But asking it not be covered at all is going a bit far, isn’t it?

What is the definition of respectful where the media is concerned. “Do they have to show a body?” one might ask, in cases such as this. It’s a good question. How might the answer affect history,or one’s perception of it?

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