Thursday, January 22, 2015

If A 6-Year-Old Child Falls From Gunfire On Newton Avenue North, And No Mass Media Make A Sound, Did The Shooting Actually Happen?

Image in public domain, blog post by John Hoff

On January 2, a regular reader who is a police scanner enthusiast sent me an email saying there had been a shooting on the 1800 block of Newton Avenue North. 

Of course, this reader didn't say "1800 block." He or she had the actual address...

According to what was reportedly heard on the scanner, a 6-year-old child and an 18-year-old were both injured in the shooting. The 6-year old ran to a house on the 1600 block of Newton (yes, the reader had the address) and the 18-year-old ran to a house on the 1700 block. (Ditto)

"Paramedics just got there," wrote this reader, firing off an email while the event was still happening. "Cops out looking for the gun." The gun was said to be a "357."

I attempted to find other confirmation that a shooting had taken place, but I came up empty handed. And I'm not really interested in poking my nose into a doorway on the 1600 block of Newton and saying, "Pardon me, but was your 6-year-old shot? OK, so how about your 18-year-old? Now, this is an odd question, but consider for a moment your 6-year-old and 18-year-old and if they got shot at the same time..." 

Yes, this blogger has been known to criticize mass media who publish block numbers instead of actual addresses. But those are instances when mass media have confirmation an incident took place, but still choose to withhold information or, even more oddly, say "block number" in the story but then they publish photos that clearly identify the address in question. 

But in this particular instance, I am not publishing the three house numbers reportedly involved because my degree of factual confirmation is not high enough for my own blogger journalist comfort level. This info comes from a secondhand report of somebody listening on a police scanner. I want more confirmation before publishing somebody's street address and saying, "a shooting happened here." 

But the reader listening to the police scanner was "quite certain of what (he or she) heard," and even jotted down the number of the house where the shooting took place, with "N for Newton Avenue North." 

But nothing further about the shooting appeared on North Vent, where neighbors who hear gunshots get on the popular Facebook forum and say, "Oh, my god, I just heard gunshots" and then somebody else publishes a photo from a cell phone, and then somebody else says, "Hey, I just heard from somebody at the scene that this is what happened..." 

Also, nothing appeared on Police Clips, where individuals who monitor police frequencies post information about incidents and even recordings of the actual radio conversations between dispatchers and police, fire, ambulance, etcetera. 

And naturally, nothing appeared in the mass media about a 6-year-old being shot. And I know media care about that kind of thing. Look how much was written about Baby Isaac. 

So even though I trust what the reader heard, I am left to wonder...what if this was some kind of false report? Because I would think that if a 6-year-old child were injured by gunfire, somebody would be reporting that...somebody other than a neighborhood blogger who received an email from a self-described "snoop" with a police scanner. 

But then again...maybe not. 

There's a "philosophical thought experiment" about "if a tree falls in the forest, and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" The point of the experiment is the nature of reality and perception. 

Are things "real" by themselves? Or real because humans perceive them? 

But what if the "tree" is a little human being hit by gunfire? 

And nobody else cared or talked about it? 

Did it even happen? 

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