It’s been fascinating to me to note the difference between the way the media has been treating the two Americans who have lashed out at their government in the last month – John Patrick Bedell, who shot a couple of Pentagons guards, and Joe Stack, who flew a plane into an IRS building in Austin – and they way the media treats civilian deaths at the hands of US and NATO troops in Afghanistan. The media, completely unable to even explore whether or not men like Bedell and Stack might have had genuine grievances, have immediately closed ranks to write both men off as being crazy. There’s no investigative reporting, no genuine inquiry into what would make these US citizens commit acts of suicide to make a point about the actions of the US government. Both men have just been tarred and brushed. The media grabs quotes from family and friends that make it sound like each man was a loony and then they editorialise with descriptions to back that up.
The Washington Post just puts it in the headline “Pentagon shooter’s spiral from early promise to madness”.
The Boston Globe, in its first paragraph, says Bedell “crisscrossed the country in a frenetic and sometimes doped-up state”.
The Mirror in the UK claims he was a “conspiracy theorist”.
The Associated Press claims Bedell “a history of mental illness”.
CBS News leads with the headline that Bedell was a “nut”.
The Christian Science Monitor refers to Stack’s online writing as a “lengthy, disjointed screed”.
USA Today says his writing “drips with cynicism, paranoia and narcissism.”
Of course, the 535 Afghani civilians who were murdered by US & NATO bombs in 2009, are just “collateral damage” or “civilian casualties”. When one out of every three people killed by US bombs in Afghanistan is a civilian, that’s just unfortunate. Obama is actually increasing the use of drones, not decreasing them. The media makes no psychological analysis about the people who are sending in drones that kill THOUSANDS of innocent civilians, men, woman and children. They don’t ask whether or not those people, the politicians or the soldiers, are paranoid or suffering from a mental illness. The issue isn’t even broached.
The lesson? When “we” kill civilians, it’s justifiable. But when someone, even one of our own, attacks us, then they suffer from a mental illness.