The Writers Voice
Sniper's Murderous Hatred: Not Funny
Gregory J. Rummo
OCTOBER 24, 2002
One columnist went so far as to compare Montgomery County, Md., Police Chief Charles A. Moose to another famous cartoon moose. “At the current rate of police efficacy, and in light of criminology standards recently demonstrated, we respectfully submit that you might as well have hired a flying squirrel and a moose to solve this serial crime,” concluded Kathleen Parker, a syndicated columnist with the Orlando Sentinel in her “memo” to the police chief as she called it.
A local talk-radio show, The Buzz, which airs evenings at 6:00 P.M. on WABC radio in New York, jumped on the Rocky and Bullwinkle bandwagon.
Yeah, real funny — hardy har har — a hate-filled Islamic extremist decides it’s god’s will for him to go on a personal jihad and systematically gun down Americans during a three-week sniping spree.
Oh, that’s a knee-slapper.
Okay — So we didn’t know all of the details earlier this week.
But we did know that a maniac was gunning down Americans with a high-powered rifle. There is nothing funny about that.
Can you imagine the shock running through those ten families when it was learned that one of their members had been shot and killed while pumping gas or going to work one morning?
For the last three weeks, all I could imagine was what it would have been like to have witnessed one of my sons shot in front of my eyes and then to have knelt on the pavement in front of a gas pump at one of those service stations, cradling the limp body, watching the blood spill out and pool in front of me on the concrete.
Aren’t we just having a good guffaw? Ooohhh, my sides are starting to ache.
“Cut Moose loose,” wrote Charles Henican, a Newsday columnist. While whining that “no comment’ was official’s answer to every question that every reporter asked,” (as if reporters are entitled to have every question answered), he went on to quote a “grizzled New York police official” who grumbled, “Look how little the chief’s silent treatment has achieved. After all this time, his investigation is still in the weeds.”
Another attempt at humor, this time with a down-home folksy flavor, “…still in the weeds,” get it? Haw haw haw. Pass me the Cracker Barrel menu. All this laughing is making me hungry.
Fortunately, law enforcement officials are thick skinned. And when they are busy, they don’t have time to read opinion columns or the funny pages.
While members of the media poked fun and criticized, investigators simply ignored the criticism and did their job—their deadly serious job.
Behind the scenes local police were cooperating with the FBI and the ATF to solve what has been characterized as one of America’s most extraordinary manhunts.
Using every tip and following every lead, they embarked on a frenzied investigation that literally took them across America, ultimately leading them to the sleeping suspects in a parked car at a rest stop in Maryland along I-70.
Memo to members of the media: Learn when humor is appropriate. When writing about the murder of innocent people, taking cheap shots for the sake of a laugh is simply not funny.
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