How to read propaganda

A friend posted this link on Facebook recently: Before You Applaud Termination Of Officer, Here’s The One Thing You Missed. Here’s what I think about it after spending some time reading it carefully.

Maybe I overthink.

Maybe I ask a lot of questions. Maybe I see a lot of complexity in things. But that doesn’t mean I shrug and give up on drawing a conclusion just because there’s another opinion out there.

The content of first six paragraphs of this thing is pure polemic. You simply can’t draw a conclusion from them because they are this guy’s conclusion. “Kids these days!” “Everyone’s so quick to cry racism!” Yadda yadda. That’s not information.

Likewise the last three paragraphs (10 through 12). That part of the article is nothing but special pleading. Maybe it’s all true. Maybe it’s true that if that officer is punished it will make others not want to be available for SRO duty. Granted for the sake of argument. It still has no bearing on the facts and reality of what happened in that room.

Paragraphs 7 and 8 are all there is, starting with: “There are THREE videos. Watch them in slow motion.” What we’re getting out of this is the potential insight that the girl was thrashing and maybe that chair moved the way it did in part because of her actions. Okay. That’s maybe interesting.

Paragraph 9 is simply false. Many people have said quite directly that the officer shouldn’t have been called in the first place. Just write the kid up for disobeying. Or stand in the back of the room and wait for her to leave eventually. Right here and now, I’m not arguing the point myself. I’m just saying it’s not true that nobody has an alternative idea. Paragraph 9 is simply false.

So in terms of debate we can strike Paragraphs 1-6 and 9-12. They’re either factually false or not relevant to the question of what happened.

We can cook this entire article down to “Watch the videos carefully. It looks like that girl flew a lot faster and harder than would be explained by the cop’s actions alone.” Okay. I can accept that. But that’s all there is! The entire content of this article comes down to a very limited claim that the “flipping” makes it look like the officer used significantly more force than he actually did.

Bottom line

I’m telling everyone to pay attention, read critically, don’t just follow along the narrative that the author is trying to build with emotion and rhetoric. This goes for everything, not just things you’re inclined to agree with or disagree with. If you want to discuss public events in a rational and mature fashion, it means you have to learn how to separate facts from opinions from fluff from bullshit.

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