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The Great Finger Wag of June 2011

finger wagging

In the past few days, I’ve received maybe a dozen emails and as many text messages about this story:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2011/06/28/ar-15-left-sitting-on-trunk-of-seattle-police-car

Basically, a Seattle Police Officer left a huge assault rifle on the back of his car, and he apparently drove all over downtown without noticing the thing sitting on his trunk.

Of course, once this was posted on The Stranger, every media station in town picked it up and each station invited their readers to comment and comment often. The news loves it when stories like this break, because of the Jerry Springer effect. When given the ability to judge others on obvious matters, outraged finger-waggers from across the Sound fill news comment sections with free content, and this in turn results in more page views and more ad revenue.

If you’re a corporate media outlet, you don’t really need to do any investigative journalism to get views these days. All you have to do is tweet “Do you think Britney Spears is a good mother? Tell us what you think!”, and before you know it you have 200 mini-articles in your comment section explaining in glorious detail why the commenter is, in fact, a far superior mother to Britney.

I, on the other hand, find little value in stating the painfully obvious in order to receive waves of affirmation.

Clearly, leaving an assault rifle on the trunk of a car is a boneheaded move. That being said, I am neither outraged nor concerned about it.

Every year in this country, thousands of people are killed in automobile accidents. Tens of thousands are injured. Every, single, solitary one of these accidents is preventable.

Every day, in every city, we have people piloting 3,000lb bullets down crowded streets while eating, putting on makeup, playing with the radio, etc. In any given month, I have at least a handful of near-misses where I am almost run over by an automobile driver. Most of these drivers probably wag their fingers ad-nauseum in newspaper comment sections every time they are invited to judge others for their obvious mistakes. That’s what’s going on here.

“Rex, I can’t believe my eyes, are you actually defending the cop?”

Why, yes. Yes, I am.

Given that I am imperfect, and you are imperfect, and the whole damn world is imperfect, I just can’t jump on the finger-wag bandwagon as easily as everyone else has.

There is a big difference in forgetting a rifle, and shooting someone in cold blood. One is forgetfulness, and the other is malice.

This was a stupid mistake that I feel has been overblown. Sure, the size of the gun makes it more dramatic, and some criticism is warranted, but for Christ’s sake, the cop didn’t mean to leave it there. He’s embarrassed. I’m pretty sure he’ll never do it again.

That’s more than I can say for most of you shitty drivers and other purveyors of imperfection out there.

Finger-waggers, heal thyself.

3 comments to The Great Finger Wag of June 2011

  • blueboar

    Agreed. Just a dumb, embarrassing mistake.

    However, it will be interesting to see the SPD management’s response. Will the involved officers be punished more than if they, for instance, shot a wood carver?

    • Seattle Rex Seattle Rex

      That’s another thing. The SPD immediately came out and apologized for this, but things that really hurt people take a long time to elicit a response.

      I feel like the gun thing is either bread or a circus. At least in some weird way.

  • wbeem

    I heard he put it there anticipating a wood carver was going to walk by, but got distracted by a food truck.

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