Recent local news reports in the Washington, DC metropolitan area have focused on the current heroin epidemic within the suburban and rural areas. Notably, the stretch of highway leading from West Virginia to Baltimore, Maryland is where the greatest focus is directed. In fact, many have dubbed this stretch of highway the “Heroin Highway.” Law enforcement, public health, and other government officials have selected this label, as they allege that it is along this highway that many people often travel to Baltimore to purchase heroin and then return to their homes in the suburban and rural areas of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
It should be noted that the current focus on heroin usage in suburban and rural Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia is not exclusive to those areas. An editorial printed in the New York Times not too long ago also discussed the current increase in heroin usage. The editorial, however, particularly examined the change in the tone of the narrative surrounding heroin usage. Specifically, in the past, when heroin was perceived as a drug of the inner city, heroin dealers and users were often referred to and/or discussed in much harsher tones. (more…)
In recent months, social media has sounded and maintained the outcry that “Black Lives Matter” as a result of the murders of unarmed black children, teenagers, men, and women. While there surely have been others that have not obtained the same media attention, notable victims include, but are not limited to, Rekia Boyd, Michael Brown, Jordan Davis, Eric Garner, Aiyana Stanley-Jones, Trayvon Martin, and Tamir Rice. In each of these cases, a schism often arose among public opinion that centered on the probable guilt or innocence of the victims and/or their associates. The innocence of the victims and/or their associates has often been a focal point of debate among persons, pundits, politicians, etc. in order to determine if the victims’ deaths were in fact justifiable.
Granted, one may contend, that from a legal standpoint, determining whether or not a homicide is justifiable is logical and a necessary component of the American legal system. Without it, many innocent people simply seeking to protect themselves and their families would probably go to jail – and for long periods of time. However, the subsequent legal processes related to the killings of the majority of the aforementioned also reveal the converse. A well-known example (and therefore one to which I have pointed before), is that of nine year-old Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Aiyana, sleeping on the couch of her home, was shot and killed when police officers stormed the residence. Instead of being convicted of her murder, the officer responsible for her death was released after conflicting accounts of events provided by Aiyana’s family and police personnel resulted in a hung jury. The officer has since returned to active duty. In another example, the man responsible for killing unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin remains free after a jury found him not guilty due to what was deemed a lack of forensic evidence. In the case of Eric Garner, video evidence showed he was restrained to the point of death by police officers. Still, there were no indictments. (more…)
Apparently, an encounter with the police resulted in his untimely death. As usually is the case, the precise details surrounding his death are being questioned by various persons involved. While some say he was unarmed and simply carrying a sandwich, others have contended that he was in fact armed and engaged in an active gun battle. (more…)
Yesterday evening, I came across an article about little Aiyana Stanley-Jones who was tragically killed in 2010 during a police raid of her home while sleeping on the couch. Seeing her picture on the front page of a national news outlet signaled to me that it was possible her death had not gone completely unnoticed. I still recall hearing about little Aiyana on the news when the tragedy initially occurred. I was certain that, as more people learned of the circumstances of her death, national outrage would spark a movement that would leave an indelible mark on the consciousness of every American. Unfortunately, one to two weeks after her death, there was virtual radio silence regarding little Aiyana and those who killed her. (more…)
The influence of the media on culture is one of my greatest fascinations. Particularly, I, like many others, am intrigued by the manner in which the media perpetuates cultural hegemony. Therefore, I make a concerted effort to look at multiple news and entertainment internet sites on a regular basis. During one of my recent searches, I came across what had to be the 200th article on a Teen Mom cast member. For those of you who are not familiar with Teen Mom, it is an MTV reality show that is supposed to depict the harsh realities, or consequences, of having a child while still a teenager. While it seems the creators of the show set out to send a cautionary message to teenagers about the perils of teen pregnancy, they have, in fact, sent what one could argue is a contradictory message. (more…)
Approximately three years ago, three siblings, including one sister and two brothers, made national headlines when they embarked on a cross-country crime spree that ended in a car chase and shootout with police in Colorado. In addition to two handguns, the siblings were armed with an AK-47. During their final encounter with the police, the sister, Lee Dougherty, pointed a gun at police officers. In response, she was shot once in the leg leaving her effectively immobilized. (more…)