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SECOND GUESSING THE SECOND GUESSERS

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BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE TUESDAY, FEB. 27, 2018

SECOND GUESSING THE SECOND GUESSERS

Allow me to play devil’s advocate. It’s what I do as a journalist, plus I personally enjoy taking on orthodoxy, particularly when it involves a binge of second-guessing. That’s exactly what we are witnessing in the wake of the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

I’m about to defend the Federal Bureau of Investigation, while not necessarily a fan of the FBI or, for that matter, of so many police agencies that can be overzealous in pursuit of what they perceive to be law and order. I promise that this is nothing like Donald Trump trying to discredit those investigating his possible sellout to the Russians. He demonizes anyone who dares to question him. In this case, this is someone, namely me, who believes that Americans citizens have a right to not be subjected to police heavy-handedness.

That said, I think the feds and all the other agencies that failed to intercede when presented with warnings about the alleged Stoneman Douglas assassin Nikolas Cruz are getting a bum rap. For starters, the FBI tip line must sift through a flood of calls and emails -- slightly more than a million and a half last year. But these warnings, you say, deserved special attention.

What might that special attention entail? At what point do agents put on a full-court press. At what point do they put under surveillance or take into custody someone who has been anonymously accused? When were social agencies, who had years of experience with Cruz, to decide that they may impose on his right to not be institutionalized? First of all, our politicians have made sure that we have a shortage of mental health facilities. In many ways, social workers, psychologists and educators are impotent; there is little they can do.


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Let’s face it, that mantra from officials -- “If you see something, say something” -- is not realistic. While true that it’s probably a good thing to err on the side of caution when we detect something suspicious and alert the authorities, it is not cool to err on the side of error and cause humiliation to someone who is just minding his business until he’s hassled by someone in uniform. Besides, that’s just an invitation to those who have malicious motivations, such as pranksters, to cause someone embarrassment. How many false alarms or even so-called swatting incidents do we need to experience to realize that our national paranoia is a slippery slope? The FBI and other entities on the receiving end must factor all of that in. When they do react, there is always a danger that they’ll overreact.

The same goes for the harsh criticism leveled at the deputy sheriff who didn’t charge into the building during the assault rifle fusillade.

What can be said about POTUS, with his crystal clear fantasy hindsight, who startled everyone with Trumpian gem: “You don’t know until you test it, but I thing—I really believe I’d run in there, even if I didn’t have a weapon”. If true, which of course it isn’t, but if true, how many millions of Americans wish President Hero had been there to ignore his bone spurs, and bodly “run in there” without a weapon, or Secret Service protection, or long time bodyguard Keith Schiller?

While we’re at it, lets engage in a little justified second-guessing about those goofy proposals to arm teachers. All we need to know about that idea to realize that it’s ridiculous is that it’s supported by the National Rifle Association. ‘Nuff said.

These are the same people who make the vile charge that media love school massacres because they’re good for ratings. Let me counter by arguing that it’s the NRA that loves school massacres, because the outcry that follows is good for fundraising. I have no idea if that’s true, any more than their media accusation. If so, their obnoxious behavior might splatter back on them this time; it seems some corporations are ending their financial sweetheart deals with the NRA.

Here’s a little first-guessing: Our lawmakers need to do something about restricting guns in a society that is saturated with them. It won’t solve our deadly problem, but it’s a step in the right direction. Nothing else is.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 27, 2018 7:46 AM.

The previous post in this blog was THE EMPATHY DEFICIT DISORDER.

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