Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Jerks and Liars: Updates on Recent Stories

A quick follow-up to stories from just the past couple of days.

On Friday I wrote about some of the responses, good and bad, to the shootings in Aurora, Colorado. In my description of how little we knew at the time (not that we’re much more enlightened now), I said that James Holmes “was apparently reclusive, and his mother is on record saying she’s not surprised by his actions: ‘You have the right person,’ she says.” Turns out we didn’t even know that, or not for sure, anyway.

Now Arlene Holmes, through a lawyer, is disputing ABC News’s characterization of her remarks. Here’s her statement:
I was awakened by a call from a reporter by ABC on July 20 about 5:45 in the morning. I did not know anything about a shooting in Aurora at that time. He asked if I was Arlene Holmes and if my son was James Holmes who lives in Aurora, Colorado. I answered yes, you have the right person. I was referring to myself.

I asked him to tell me why he was calling and he told me about a shooting in Aurora. He asked for a comment. I told him I could not comment because I did not know if the person he was talking about was my son, and I would need to find out.
ABC News is standing by its story that producer Matthew Mosk had indeed called her at 5:45 a.m. California time, but that the conversation had gone the way it was described on air on Friday.

Two things are clear. 1). Mosk is an asshole. I don’t care how important you think your “need to know” is, or how much you want to scoop the other guy, you don’t call a mother in the middle of the night to tell her that her son is a mass murderer and ask if she’d like to comment. Not unless you’re the police. Period. End of discussion. 2). Somebody’s lying. Is it the news agency that’s already had to apologize once for the unprofessional musings of Brian Ross? Or is it the shocked mother, who might have realized a little too late that a). she was further incriminating her son and b). she didn’t look too good, either, if she suspected a propensity for violence and did nothing to stop it?

I don’t know, and neither does anyone else other than Ms. Holmes and Mr. Mosk, as there’s no recording of the conversation. But the phrasing has gnawed at me since the beginning. “You have the right person” sure seems to support Holmes’s story over Mosk’s. Had the interview gone the way Mosk says it did, the much more probable response would have been “They [the police] have the right man [“person” is generally used only when the gender isn’t clear].” Am I guessing? You bet. But I’ll give you 10 to 1 on this one.

I doubt that we’ll ever know for sure, but even the likelihood that ABC butchered the story again and are now frantically engaged in ass-covering doesn’t look good.

On Saturday, in my piece on the silliness of using these events to ban costumes, I also wrote, “whether the Aurora theatre will be sued remains to be seen—if that emergency exit door was literally propped open, as some news reports have suggested (and we all know how accurate they’ve been throughout this process, right?), then maybe they deserve it.”

Well, someone is indeed about to sue the theatre. And Warner Brothers. And Holmes’s doctors. And the company that made Holmes’s breakfast cereal. OK, I made the last one up. Unfortunately, not the rest. One Torrence Brown, Jr., who wasn’t hurt in the incident, has nonetheless hired a shyster named Donald Karpel because the bad man made him cry he is now suffering from extreme trauma.

OK, it might be possible that the movie theatre is liable if they didn’t take appropriate precautions to secure the door through which Holmes entered. Maybe. But the plaintiff in such a case would have some serious ‘splainin’ to do. The rest of it? Unmitigated feces. “The Dark Knight Rises” is a violent film? No shit? And little Mr. Brown didn’t know that? Karpel says Holmes “partially mimicked” the violence of the film he interrupted. Maybe. But I checked out all the official previews of the film, and not a one of them shows anything remotely like what happened in Colorado. Since the film premiered that night (that was the whole point of the midnight show, after all), no one could have predicted any similarity that did exist… except in the sense that pretty much all action movies trot out the same schtik with minor variations. In other words, Karpel is full of crap. But you knew that.

Finally on the “Dark Knight” front is news that Christian Bale really did visit shooting victims at the Medical Center of Aurora. I had written, of course, that the Internet solicitation of him to do so was unethical. I still believe that, and I still think his appearance will be regarded by many (including me) as a publicity stunt to attract more press for the movie, whether Warner Brothers said he wasn’t there to represent the movie or not.

The good news is that his visits were actually few in number (only seven victims—presumably those whose recovery wouldn’t be adversely affected by his presence, plus first responders, hospital staff, etc.), he didn’t concentrate on seeing kids, and he wasn’t in costume. The bad news is that we now established further precedent that celebrities can be summoned forth by every pushy fan with a “cool” idea.

And so on to the other recent story. I wrote Saturday, also, about two stories involving Chick-fil-A: the publicizing of the company’s anti-gay rights campaigns, and the unethical attempts by Boston Mayor Thomas M. Mennino to keep them out of his city.

And, the pendulum has swung back. After an announcement by the Jim Henson Company that they would be suspending future relations with Chick-fil-A over gay rights issues, the food chain has gone hard-core into sour grapes. The sign shown here was reportedly displayed at the Chick-fil-A outlet in the Shops at Willow Bend in Plano, Texas. The image was splashed all over my Facebook feed this afternoon. I must confess, I thought it was a fake. The coincidence was too neat, the safety issue so manifestly nonsense, and the “children getting their fingers stuck in the holes of the puppets” too conveniently a vulgar joke. Apparently, however, it’s real.

If so, then yes, they really are that stupid. And yes, this ultra-Christian company is a little too ready to, you know, bear false witness. They claim to have withdrawn the Henson toys in question as of July 19, but no I can find no indication that they made any such move prior to today, July 24, oh so coincidentally a couple of days after the Henson company ended their relationship. Chick-fil-A is acting like the junior high kid who doesn’t want to admit to having been dumped. Trouble is, they’re supposed to be proud of their sanctimony. That’s not working out so well.

OK: I doubt that anyone from Chick-fil-A will ever read this, but in case you do… I disagree with you as profoundly as it is possible to do about gay rights, but I support your right to do with your corporate profits whatever you choose, so long as you’re not breaking any laws. This does not, however, extend to getting into a snit about a failed business partnership and lying about the cause of your petulance, de facto libeling a reputable company. I don’t claim to be omniscient, however: show me any credible evidence that the “voluntary withdrawal” of Henson toys, supposedly ordered as of last Thursday, in fact existed before Henson ended their relationship with you, and I’ll apologize loudly and abjectly. Fail to do so, however, and I will continue to regard you not merely as theological hypocrites, but also as plain old garden-variety liars.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Look it does not matter what I think about Chick-fil-a. This is just me giving some information that does not prove anything. I often go to Chick. Got a 4 year who loves the playground and we can get mixed fruit instead of fries. On the Wednesday July 18th I ate there with my kid. We got the usual kids meal but this time no toy. Just a slip of paper stating that you could if you wish redeem it for the ice cream.