Crime & Punishment

Sean Taylor Coverage ... Fair?

Sean Taylor

Sean Taylor Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Getty Images

Happy Monday. I hope you all had a fine weekend.

A bittersweet day in Washington and Miami today. Washington Redskins football player Sean Taylor was laid to rest in Miami. The whole team was there...

Now I know what some of you are thinking because I've heard it at the grocery store and I've read it on the blogs. Some of you are saying, look, if it was MY mother or brother nobody would notice (a man said this to me last week when I was in the checkout line). And some of you are saying ... what about the men and women in Iraq? Why is this more important?

I'm going to push back on both of those themes.

We WOULD notice. On this program we've made it our business to notice the violence going on around us: our interview with Anwan Glover of HBO's "The Wire," whose brother was murdered just a few months ago; our ongoing coverage of the murders in Philly ... in Delaware, in Baltimore; our conversation with Valencia Muhammad, a former D.C. school board member, who lost two sons to gun violence and is active in the conversation on gun control (and not on the side you might think); and our conversations about "snitching." I think we've been there, and we will be there.

But there is no question that this awful death has struck a chord. The facts are now known — Taylor confronted burglars in his home in the early morning hours last week; one of them shot him, he died soon after ... his fiance and baby cowering under the covers.

In the early days, a theme seemed to emerge: was Taylor somehow complicit in his own death? Were his brushes with the law a factor in his murder? It turns out that none of that was true, but what was true is that Taylor was a black man killed in his own home by other black men who wanted to take what he had.

So is this about celebrity? ... About envy?
Is this about the low regard for life among too many young men?
Is it about being in the wrong place at the wrong time (in the middle of the football season, Sean wasn't expected to be home)?
I don't know — all of it ... none of it?

Here's what I do know: if something makes you ask that many questions, if it haunts you in this way, then it is something to talk about.

I recommend the pieces by the two columnists we had on today — David Aldridge and Omar Kelly...

As for Iraq, there, too, I would say we have done all we can think of to demonstrate respect for the sacrifice of those who serve, made the ultimate sacrifice ... but I would also say that is a false comparison. If an event resonates, it resonates. And that does not detract from, nor diminish the dignity and grace owed to those who mourn for any reason.

But I have to say, I think murder is shameful in this country, I really do. I think too often those who are murdered are treated as though they are complicit in their own deaths, no matter who they are or the reason. A girl is kidnapped on the street on her way home from class and people ask what she was doing there. A boy is snatched off a bike and winds up in a ditch and people ask — openly or not — where his parents were. So I truly think that, if anything, the victims of homicide and their families deserve more compassion than they are getting.
More than who? No one. But as much as we can offer them.

And, from the tragic to the tragic-comic ... Imus is BAAAACK. Will the celebs follow?

Let's keep watching and see...

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

The whole Sean Taylor thing is so disturbing to me. Especially after finding out that the suspects are so young.

Another writer over at Highbrid Nation did a nice peice on how some in the media want to blame hip hop for Taylor's death. Which is crazy if you ask me.

It'd be nice if we can stop the finger pointing and come up with some real solutions to help our lost youth.

Sent by Evorgleb | 7:36 PM | 12-3-2007

I don't know exactly why Sean Taylor's death is drawing so much attention. Clearly, celebrity can explain a significant chunk of it...

Either way, the price that Taylor is paying for his posthumous notoriety is that many people are questioning the value of publicizing his death so much. At least the normal person is more likely to enjoy a death in which people don't criticize how much others are talking about it.

Imagine how Taylor would feel if he knew that so many people wondering if he's worth the breath people expend on him. Obscurity does have its advantages.

Sent by Steve Petersen | 11:29 PM | 12-3-2007

Speaking as a person who dispises the NFL and everything it stands for, I think it is possible to feel awful for Sean Taylor and his family, and at the same time lament the fact that similar acts are taking place all over the country and getting little attention because there is no celebrity envolved.

Personally, I think you address all the issues in a manner that I wish were more common in our media.

Sent by Jim | 12:00 AM | 12-4-2007

I was on my way to the airport back to South Florida Monday night after thanksgiving when I saw the news that Sean Taylor had been shot. Only to find out the next day he passed away from the gun shot wounds. Seeing the national news media (ESPN, CNN, etc) speculate for the first 48 hours left a lot to be desired.

The news were it must have been his thug life or he was moving with the wrong crowd or he tried to get away from the wrong crowd but the "hood" grip was too strong. I'm yet to see such coverage on a white athlete with a questionable past. The silver linings were Omar Kelly's report in South Florida Sun-Sentinel who actually covered him while Taylor played for the University of Miami Hurricanes and Dan Le Batard of the Miami Herald and ESPN who blasted his peers for the unfair coverage based on "gossip-cloaked-in-journalism."

This is one of the reasons I was glad to hear Omar Kelly on the program to bring a different perspective and David Aldridge who's known to be objective.

Sent by Moji | 10:30 AM | 12-4-2007

About