Letter: Who cares who’s ‘known to police’?

Dear Editor,

I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend with professional media outlets the past decade or so: cheap tabloid-like reporting, seemingly getting worse and worse as the years go by.

Whenever a person dies an “unnatural” or “suspicious” death, or when our saintly police forces are involved in the slightest degree, the newspapers diligently report to the slavering public that the deceased person was “known to police.”

Why? What is the point? It’s tragic enough that the person has lost their life, but now must it be publicized with a not-so-veiled implication that they deserved it’ because they were “known to police?”

There are plenty of good-hearted and good-natured people who unfortunately have criminal records. Those people give their time and money to charity, help old ladies across the street, take in and nurture injured animals, and give comforting words and deeds to those who are hurt and suffering.

But all those nuances that define the term “human being” mean nothing to certain uncouth newspaper editors whose only apparent care in the world is ratings and profit margin via sensationalism.

God forbid an editor ever runs afoul of the law. One can only hope their successor follows due diligence and reduces their life’s good work to a mere label once they give up the ghost – a label touted by those who don’t exactly have a sterling record for crimes as a corporate whole, either, it must be stated.

“The greatness of a nation can be judged by how it treats its weakest member.” That idiom can be suitably translated in this context, for there are none more unable to defend themselves than those who have lost their lives.

Ridiculing the dead is hardly becoming of a great nation, or that of a decent human being – and it’s painfully disrespectful to family members in mourning.

It’s tantamount to desecrating their grave with libelous graffiti. For shame!

Many publications will receive this letter. It should prove interesting who has conscience to print it.

Farren McDonald, Port Coquitlam

[Editor’s note: We can’t speak for other media outlets, but in our view, there is a rational social purpose to indicating whether or not a killing or other significant misadventure involved a person “known to police,” and it is reasonable for our readers to expect to be thus informed, as it is an indication that the incident was more likely the result of a “targeted” attack, and not a random event. That is not to suggest that any murder may be justified in any way, or that the victim of an assault might have “deserved” his beating or, in the worst case, his death. But it can serve to allay fears that the world is more dangerous than it really is for folks who live entirely inside the law.]

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