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Monday, March 14, 2005

Everything is political: Atlanta shooting

As most people know by now, Brian Nichols was finally caught this weekend in Atlanta. As details are coming out, here is what we know about what happened:

Nichols overcame a deputy at the Fulton County courthouse Friday morning, beat her, and took her gun. He then entered a courtroom and shot and killed Judge Rowland Barnes and court reporter Julie Brandau. Nichols then fled the building, shot and killed deputy Sgt. Hoyt Teasley, entered a parking garage, and attempted to carjack about 3 or 4 cars. It was thought for some time that he had taken a green Honda. However, Nichols apparently got onto a public transit train that he took to Lenox Mall in Buckhead. He then walked down the street to a residential neighborhood where he shot and killed federal agent David Wilhelm and stole his car. Nichols finally kidnapped Ashley Smith at here suburban Atlanta apartment. Smith was able to gain Nichols trust and finally escape and alert the police. This all took place over a period of 12 hours.

As you can imagine, many people in Atlanta were on edge Friday. The office building where I work received several emails us letting us know that Nichols may be in the area and that our building may go into a lockdown. The house where David Wilhelm is about 1/2 mile from my office and I often drive down that street.

Most people have heard much of this story so I'm not sharing anything new. However, I've been thinking a lot about how this story was covered this weekend, not just by the MSM but by the blogosphere. On Friday, I read a number of blogs who brought up the following issues as reaction to this story:
  1. The problem of having females guard Brian Nichols as an example of political correctness gone bad.
  2. The suggestion that judges are often smug and arbitrary, which could lead to violence like this.
  3. The procedures at Fulton County courthouse than allowed Nichols to not be handcuffed or shackled so that he wouldn't look guilty to the jury.
  4. Gun control obviously has been brought up.
I mention these issues not to agree or disagree with them. What disturbs me is that these issues came up almost immediately when this story broke on Friday. I'm bothered that a political agenda is pushed immediately in the midst of a tragedy that took the lives of people.

Certainly there is a time and a place for the questions to be asked. I would have rather seen people wait until Sunday or Monday to start analyzing this incident. I particularly think of the victim's families and wonder what they would have thought had they read coverage of this story in the blogosphere. We in the blogosphere often criticize the MSM, and rightly so, but sometimes we need to look at ourselves and evaluate what we could do better. The MSM generally runs with stories because they don't want someone else to get the scoop, which equals ratings which equals money. But we in the blogosphere don't have that agenda; few of us make any money.

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