Friday, September 30, 2011

"The Onion" should be criminally charged for latest tastelessness

Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Earlier this week, a Web-based satire “news” source, The Onion, released a story stating that U.S. Congressmen were holding school children hostage, at gunpoint, inside the Capitol.

The Tweets caused quite a stir around the country.

News stories, legitimate news stories, on Friday, were discussing The Onion’s latest escapade. One news source defended The Onion’s right to post such crap, claiming their “humor” is protected by the First Amendment.

I sincerely hope that federal investigators find cause to charge Onion officials with felony counts of inducing panic. The Onion, and their followers, can claim an attempt at humor all they want but the fact is that, not only, is such a “joke” not humorous, it is downright cruel.

I am all for protecting the First Amendment. I am also for prosecuting, to the full extent of the law, anyone who causes grief or panic among Americans by their blatant disregard for their fellow citizens.

I saw a post on Facebook following The Onion’s assault on the American public, to the effect that “It’s The Onion,” In other words, one should automatically know the information was false. I do not agree.

As our country slips more and more to “citizen journalism,” the line between real, professionally-gathered news and the unconfirmed and many times just flat out untrue reports is growing increasingly difficult to decipher.

Throw in the tragic events of incidents such as Columbine, and you have to realize that even attempting humor related to potential harm to Americans, especially in the halls of Congress, is far beyond distasteful. It is, in fact, criminal.

It is sad that Americans have descended to the depths of what is considered humor and satire. Even on the “higher-class” end, you have late night talk show hosts such as David Letterman, using the misfortune of others as the basis for the rants that he calls humor. At the other end of the spectrum, we have Websites like The Onion. Nothing they say is humorous. They are an insult to the intelligence of the American people.

On television, programs like Family Guy are just downright vulgar. I believe that the reason they do the shows in cartoon format is lull viewers into thinking the “characters” are funny. Have our values sunk to such levels where we actually mistake this crap for entertainment?

That fact that these shows are cartoons just invites our children to watch. Too many parents, who are more worried about themselves than family values, just sit there and allow their children to watch the programs.

Some of you, especially the younger crowd, will undoubtedly say that I am just old-fashioned. Yes, I am. What is wrong with that? I was raised with the values set by my parents. They would have been just as disgusted with what is going on in America today as I am.

This is not about a generation expressing themselves and we old fogies just don’t understand. This is about basic values that we all should have, and live by.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Dog attack incident reveals mis-placed values

By Mike Ullery
Chief Photographer

Last Sunday evening, a Piqua woman suffered horrific injuries at the jaws and claws of two dogs.

Ms.Sandra Getzendiner was minding her own business, peddling her bicycle over a bridge, when out of nowhere, the two Pit Bull Terriers attacked her and were in the process of tearing her to pieces. If not for the brave actions of several passers-by, it is doubtful that Gentzendiner could have survived the attack.

As is usual for me after covering an event, I came away with some observations.

It never ceases to amaze me when a situation such as this occurs, the number of people who seem to be far more concerned with the animal than the human being.

Don't get me wrong. I love dogs. I love most all animals. Unlike some folks, however; I believe that I can put things into perspective.

I was at the scene of the incident. (The Piqua Daily Call was the only news organization there, by the way.)

After the investigation and activity related to the attack wrapped up on Sunday evening, I proceeded to do our "newspaper thing" of checking facts and details, along with gathering more information as it became available. Part of thiswork flow was to post what we knew on our Facebook page, along with a photograph.

We were quickly besieged with responses. One of the first was from a reader who demanded that I apologize for running a photograph of a dead dog surrounded by officers who had just shot it. Before I had time to form a response, a number of readers offered a differing opinion. The comments were interesting. I am pleased that many were sound and reasonable. A few of them just left me scratching my head.

I quickly saw two thing happening. First, I noted the few people who were flat-out more interested in "the poor animals," than in the fact that those two dogs had nearly killed someone.

I literally had more comments concerning a photograph of a dead dog than we received the last time we published an image of a deceased human. That fact alone turns my stomach more than any photograph ever could.

The second thing that I noted was, in these days of "I-Witness Reporters," an appalling lack of accuracy to "I-Witness" reports and just flat-out unsubstantiated incorrect information. It did not take long for me to wonder if I was covering a totally different dog attack.

Posts ran a gamut of whether, or not, the second dog had been apprehended or killed to people stating that they "had heard" that the dog attack victim had died of her injuries. I even heard someone claim that police found torn-off human limbs in the woods. Where do people come up with this stuff?

What is most sad is that many news organizations are using the "I-Reporter" route in an ever-increasing fashion. Why? They do it so that they can save money. They do it to make the general public feel "connected" to the station.

All that is happening is that, in exchange for an individual getting his thirty seconds of fame, the public is getting everything from incomplete facts to flat out lies.

The bottom line? Their company management cares less about covering news and doing so ethically and accurately than they do about their own bottom line.

The good news in all of this is that Getzendiner is reported to be doing well following surgery and is on the mend. She is proving to be a very popular lady and the outpouring of support and prayers for her is heartwarming.

I hope that we can all learn something from this near-tragic incident. Most importantly, a human life is far more important that any animal.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Remembering tragic events ... now, and forever

By Mike Ullery

Chief Photographer

It is difficult to believe that 10 years have passed since that tragic day in September of 2001.

Much has changed since four aircraft, taken over by terrorists, altered the way we live.

I am still saddened and angered by the alterations and adaptations we have been forced to make in the days and years following September 11, 2001.

In spite of the fact that many terrorists, including 9/11/01 mastermind Osama Bin Laden have been killed, we are still puppets being played by terrorists and terrorism.

Surveillance cameras can be found, (or not found), everywhere. Our every move is monitored. Some good has come from this as the cameras also serve to assist in identifying and locating criminals. The bottom line is that we have surrendered our freedom to not have lives monitored by “big brother.”

Anyone wishing to travel, especially by air, is subjected to time consuming and, in many cases, humiliating searches in order to board an aircraft.

The TSA released a statement this week stating that Americans are safer now that we were in 2001. My question is, “At what cost?”

In my mind’s-eye, I envision terrorists sending carefully worded messages to each other, hinting at possible terror plots in the United States, fully aware that these messages are being intercepted and read by our counter-terror experts. They write these messages, while seated in their Lazy Boy recliner, never intending to actually perpetrate the terror act. They can just have fun watching us go nuts trying to stop them … and at the same time, further eroding our formerly unalienable rights.

We will not have won anything until the day we can climb on a commercial aircraft in this country without undergoing X-rays and a full-body search.

I do not care if it takes profiling to get the job done. I have no sympathy for Muslims living in this country. When their freedom of religion interferes with our freedom and endangers our very lives, get rid of them. From where I stand, they have done nothing to assist in our efforts to eradicate Muslim terrorists from our country. Sitting idly by is the same as offering a helping hand.

As we prepare to commemorate the anniversary of this solemn day, I know that all of us will take a few moments to remember exactly where we were, and what we were doing, when we began receiving news that those gutless hijackers-turned-executioners were killing thousands of innocent Americans.

We need to honor and remember the victims. We must also honor the sacrifices made by police, fire and rescue personnel on that day, and in succeeding days.

Many communities, including our own, are holding events to remember 9/11/01. The Piqua community will be holding A Day of Honor at Fountain Park on Sunday. It is important that we never forget and that we continue to honor everyone whose lives were touched by those acts of terror.

I can’t help but notice the comparison in this 10th anniversary of 9/11/01 to recent anniversaries of Dec. 7, 1941. Just because we have lost most members of the generations who were alive to witness the tragic “Day of Infamy,” does not lessen the day’s impact on our world. Yet, many of our children do not even know what happened on that December day in 1941.

Both dates mark terrible tragedies. Let us never forget either, lest we be doomed to let history repeat itself, again.