NYT declares "bullet" killed 14 year old girl, not the cop that fired it

Does anyone have any doubt that this language was intentionally chosen to blunt the emotional, visceral impact of what actually happened and to diminish the accountability of the perpetrator?


No, it’s all awful. I’m just so sick of seeing people shot but what’s the solution or a solution that is realistic in these politicized times. That’s where my brain went instead of just screaming.

It’s okay… teenage girls aren’t important… /s

Jokes like this don’t fucking help. It just help people laugh off the shitty state of the world rather than trying to push for reform.



Beyond the “self-firing bullet” framing here (and it’s kind of surprising, given the NYTimes has recently had a good series of articles about the cops killing people at traffic stops), was the naivety of the cop himself. He’s a Black guy, so I’m sure his desire to change the way police are perceived was honest and real - but it was also incredibly superficial.

He was focused on cops having a poor reputation because they’re (racist) assholes, which is a very real issue, but the other part of the equation is that the normal, dispassionate operation of the police leads to them being a menace to everyone around them (i.e. society). This being a case in point - the cops come in, knowing nothing about the situation (except some confused reports), and assume the assailant is armed with a gun (he’s not) and open fire immediately in a crowded area. In civilized parts of the world, given the assailant wasn’t armed with any sort of actual weapon, even using a taser would have been seen as over-kill. For US cops, it would have been the best we could have hoped for - but they couldn’t manage it. The standard operating procedure is so broken, it leads to a lot of unnecessary deaths.

The “good cops” who want to “change things” aren’t ultimately much better than the rest. They may not subject people to racist abuse, but they still end up killing people, “without wanting to,” because the whole system is so broken.

No it won’t, because police procedure is based on a couple axioms. That any suspect could have a gun, a reasonable assumption in the US, and that “any shooting where you walk away is a good shooting” (i.e. it’s better to risk everyone else’s lives than your own). If there’s ever a trade-off to be made between the safety of the public and their own (perceived) safety, the cops go with their own safety. Even if the rules say otherwise, they find a work-around they know will be tolerated.

Good gods, it’s an extremely low bar. A recent NYTimes article was about a cop who had shot and killed four people in the line of duty (while serving in a low-crime, low-density area) - the first was when he shot a suicidal man who had taped a gun to his body so it was pointing at his own head. The cop said he pointed the gun at him (despite that being impossible). Not only was he not disciplined, he got a fucking commendation for it.


Absolutely. They have no idea how it happened. Maybe the bullet had a manufacturing defect. Maybe the gun misfired. The whole point is to remove from the mind a cop intentionally squeezing the trigger while the gun is pointed at someone, and to fill it with vague possibilities and ambiguities and a sad tale of the heroic community policeman who now has to live with this tragedy forever.


Best post I have read in quite a while on BoingBoing.

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I’m only surprised they didn’t use the term

friendly fire

Who is saying I’m not also pushing for reform? I’m just cynical. Also starting off with this sort of low brow joke doesn’t help your argument against my admittedly crappy joke.

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Apparently, it’s not even the guns. It’s those darn self actuating bullets.


The final verdict was “Oopsie”, not even “Oopsie, my bad.” That must be a great comfort.


Note the sarcasm mark and the bitter dark anger that society doesn’t give a shit about me and my daughter…


No, we all know what happened. The Times, like so many outlets, used that old reporter’s flourish of the exonerative tense. Sometimes, it is passive, sometimes it is active, but it always serves to absolve the police of wrongdoing. Look at the headline. It moves agency for the killing over to an object, while talking about all the good the officer intended to do. We don’t give the same courtesy to people who kill children in drive by shootings and we shouldn’t do it for a cop who killed a child while trying to kill an unarmed suspect. If anyone else killed a child while shooting someone else the headline would be about the baby killing menace.

No, he only intended to shoot someone else wrongly.


I vaguely recall an oldsong lyric: “It’s not the bullet that kills you, it’s the hole.” Can’t go around blaming causal agents, now can we?


It’s encouraging to see the heat being turned up on the media’s behavior. Twitter discourse is dumb and horrible, and latches onto the most vapid and overwrought critiques, but still: until a decade or so ago, we had to seethe in silence at the mainstream media’s bullshit, and now we at least know other people are noticing it, too.

And, fortunately, the internet isn’t just Twitter. If you get interested enough, there’s much more thoughtful discussion in the podcast realm (like the fantastic Media Democracy pod), and then that can even lead to actual books. I don’t know how many people are taking it that far, but with things like the 2016 unpleasantness and the Corbyn affair, I think critical attention on the media and its power is now broader and deeper than it’s ever been.

Anyhoo I don’t think this headline shows that the NYT is in the pocket of police unions, or deliberately carrying water for the right; those are just Newsmax talking points with the nouns swapped out. To me, it’s the result of the way they approach every story, which is that above all, they need to be the experts explaining stuff to you, the rube. The story can’t be “cops are murdering boobs”, because that’s the facile interpretation – why, you could think that without the New York Times even telling you to think it! – so they seek some convoluted framing that has to be explained to you. In this case, it has to be explained to you because it’s fucking absurd and contrarian, but whatever, the Role of the Journalist been reinforced, so, mission accomplished.

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“Your Honor, I am not guilty of murder. The deceased was alive when I pushed them off the roof. The real murderer here is [pause for dramatic effect then point downward] THE EARTH ITSELF! Therefore I move for the charges against me to be dismissed.”


It’s unnecessary murder and manslaughter. Calling victims of police violence “deaths” removes police culpability and responsibility, much as this NYT copaganda piece is trying to do. Someone upthread said “de-bullet the police”, and I think they’re onto something. My own community is looking to strip most firearms from the police, rather than requiring them to carry at least a pistol at all times, on duty or off. If we’re finding it impossible to de-fund the Gang in Blue, let’s make every effort to take away their ability to so easily murder people suspected of committing crimes that do not have death as a legal punishment.


Laurie Anderson.


The use of passive voice here gives the impression that the death of the girl was accidental, rather than directly caused by the very intentional act of the officer. Does the headline make anyone think the bullet acted on its own volition? Of course not. But it does make it sound like the officer was not at fault, and that’s why it was written that way.


I guess I’d assert that the unnecessary deaths go even beyond what’s legally murder and manslaughter. Certainly far, far beyond what the legal system will even contemplate prosecuting. The police routinely create situations where their actions will be “reasonable,” but only because the context was theirs to influence in the first place.