Monday, September 26, 2005

Widely reported attacks false or unsubstantiated

So reads the subhead on this story from NOLA.Com:

Rumors of deaths greatly exaggerated

Following days of internationally reported killings, rapes and gang violence inside the Dome, the doctor from FEMA...came prepared for a grisly scene: He brought a refrigerated 18-wheeler and three doctors to process bodies.

"I've got a report of 200 bodies in the Dome," Beron recalls the doctor saying.

The real total was six, Beron said.

At the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, just four bodies were recovered, despites reports of corpses piled inside the building. Only one of the dead appeared to have been slain, said health and law enforcement officials.

The rumors of violence, like the rumors of people firing on rescue helicopters (didn't happen; see reference to the FAA debunking this in a prior post), were just that: rumors. They were spread by the main stream media and by the Two Hour Hate guys on AM radio and cable television.

Looting, discounting food, water, diapers, clothes and medicine, was also wildly exaggerate, with television showing the same two clips--the young man with the TV who slipped out of his shirt to escape the police, and the two walking down Canal Street with a camera and a pair of shoes--endlessly repeated.

The real tragedy of this was how this affected release efforts. Governor-in-waiting Kathleen Blanco refused Bush's demand to federalize the guard because she didn't want them disarmed. Blanco also had state and national guard officials block relief efforts in the city because "it was too dangerous."

Too bad she didn't ask her own employees from the state's Wildlife & Fisheries department (who rescued by some estimates ten times as many people as the Coast Guard and other federal agencies, from some of the most afflicted, and most times dangerous, neighborhoods of the city, if they thought it was "too dangerous".

It is my firm belief that those who spread these rumors on the media, especially those on AM Radio and Cable talk shows, should be held responsible under the FCC Hoax regulation. I went as far as to warn my own local Two Hour Hate host and his boss that I would file a complaint under this regulation if they continued to broadcast things I had sent them evidence were false.

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"And when we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcome, but when we are silent we are still afraid. So it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive." -- Audie Lorde

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