December 30, 2013
An Experiement In Article Versus Video
I was surfing around my news sites when I came across this story about two teenagers in Honduras. It was tragic from the beginning. Both lived with their families in poverty scavenging for a few dollars a day.
They soon discover stealing is much more profitable than any legal work they could find:
Edwin Mejia didn't want to go out and steal that morning.
The $75 he and his buddy had made the day before from the stolen motorcycle felt like a fortune compared to the $5 a day he earned selling his mother's tortillas. The 15-year-old lay in bed inside the wooden one-room house he shared with his 10 brothers and sisters and told his partner, Eduardo Aguilera, that he wasn't in the mood. [...]
Honduras never developed the democratic institutions that would guarantee a rule of law. Instead, it is a largely lawless land where there are few choices for the poor, heroes are scarce, and violence is a given.
I knew as soon as I started reading this article was written to invoke sympathy for criminals more than for the victim. Sure, there are a few mentions that the victim was also struggling to provide for his family, but the entire gist of the story was about the struggling poor reluctantly turning to lawlessness and their subsequent mistreatment within the Honduras judicial system.
What came next would last four hours.
The two teenagers, visibly nervous, ditched the bike and started running in the middle of a five-lane highway, desperately trying to stop anyone to give them a ride. They ran past a Clarion Hotel, a Burger King and a McDonald's. At one point, traffic video caught them trying to jump a moving bus, pointing their gun at the driver, who did not stop. [...]
Two policemen finally caught the boys in a parking lot near the Marriott Hotel, in the same block as the presidential palace.
Police won't say what happened next, but according to public prosecutor Alexis Santos, 40, the police officers started beating both the boys, focusing on Eduardo, whom they thought had fired the gun.
I admit, the story slant got me. While I sympathized with the young police officer who lost his life, I also felt sympathy for these two teenagers, who found themselves caught up in a life and death struggle after making a series of bad decisions.
After all, how many of us also made bad choices as a teen? Not to the extreme of killing someone, but poor decisions that might have spiraled beyond our control in a world more violent than our own?
And Edwin didn't even want to be there that day. The article tells me that in the very first line. He was just trying to survive in a harsh world.
A few biased accounts and a liberal media easily sways the mind and manipulates the point of view. Notice the article refers to the teens by their first names, but to the victim by the last name. That isn't an accident. First names humanize and make it more personal. Last names are more detached.
Since the article mentions a viral video of the incident, I knew that only viewing that video would expose the true measure of severity of the crime committed by those impoverished teens, without invoking any emotions of the reporter. Only seeing the victim in life, rather than a secondary character on an internet page, would capture the horror of the crime committed.
The viral video was noticeably excluded from the AP's "Big Story" about the crime. So I did a little digging and found it. It is posted below the fold.
Your assignment: Read the linked story. Think about how you feel about the two teenage criminals AP wants you to view as victims. Then watch the video. Do you feel the same? Discuss in comments.
UPDATE: A somewhat related post I did a couple of weeks ago, only this one has a happy ending. The teens in the story above were trying to commit a similar crime:
UPDATE II: Found another case with a happy ending. (Warning: Graphic)