Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Who needs evidence when you've got an agenda?
Has the world gone mad?How else to explain the fact police and prosecutors in Phoenix, Arizona say they are considering homicide charges against an alleged car thief for his supposed "role" in a mid-air crash between two news helicopters that left four people dead.What exactly did Christopher Jermaine Jones do, you ask, to contribute to this tragedy?Um, nothing. But that's apparently of no consequence to the blood-thirsty justice officials who want to pin this on somebody. Evidence be damned!To recap, Jones was the subject of a high-speed that wound its way through the streets of Phoenix last Friday.Media outlets were quick to respond and it wasn't long before several choppers were in the skies, chasing the chase.No doubt this made for dramatic, edge-of-your-seat television. Sadly, the news outlets suddenly found themselves making news - not covering it.
Two helicopters somehow clipped each other and down they came, landing in a fiery heap in a nearby park. Both pilots, and both cameramen, were killed.Meanwhile, the police chase continued on the ground and Jones was eventually caught.Now I'm all for throwing the book at him for what he did. That would involve the alleged car theft and subsequent police chase.But to suggest that Jones is somehow responsible for what happened a few thousand feet above him is ridiculous, to say the least.Talk about a "slippery slope", which is a term lawyers often use when discussing these kinds of thorny legal situations.Seriously, how far could this go?Let's say a reporter and photographer are driving to someone's house to go interview them. And along the way, they hit a patch of black ice, flip the vehicle and both die.Should the person the reporter and photographer were going to meet be charged? Of course not.So how is this any different? Yes, the media were doing their jobs. And, sadly, it cost four people their lives.
But Jones didn't put a gun to their heads and force them into those helicopters. He didn't fire a barrage of bullets into the sky, forcing the pilots to change their flight plans to avoid being hit and trigger the crash.All he did was speed away from police. And if a police vehicle had crashed during the chase with tragic results, then I'd suggest there might actually be a case against the alleged thief. They had a duty to get directly in the line of danger and arrest the dangerous suspect, so they should be afforded some protection in law.But the media are not police. They didn't HAVE to be chasing the chase. And if they were going to, it was their responsibility to be careful.And that is what this all comes down to. Personal responsibility.In Canada we seem to still have a strong sense of it. But our neighbours to the south apparently don't and will jump at any chance to blame someone else for something, anything. Lay a charge, file a lawsuit, just DO SOMETHING! It's the American way.We discussed this issue on Sunday night's "Crime and Punishment" radio show across the Corus network and my phone lines lit up like a Christmas tree.Only one person felt there was a case here, although he backed away from his stance a bit when I challenged him with the goofy scenario I mentioned above.Now's your chance to talk.Does anyone out there actually believe there is a case to be made against the alleged thief? Do you think the Americans have lots their collective minds?Post your views below.
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