The Big Picture –
By Glynn Wilson –
I don’t know if Americans or Southerners are incredibly gullible or just stupid, or if local news outlets are to blame.
But we had a good laugh Saturday night when the sportscasters fell for the line calling the Alabama-LSU game (Alabama won, 30-16) “The Game of the Century” before it ever took place.
Clearly it was not the game of the century or even the game of the year. Neither Alabama nor LSU were undefeated teams going in. They were not ranked numbers one and two and playing for the national championship. So how do people, including national sports casters, fall for such nonsense?
I understand the world as portrayed on television is all about pretense and hype. But that does not mean intelligent people have to fall for it, every time.
Take for example a recent story out of Alabama’s Jefferson County that made the rounds on Facebook’s so-called “news feed.”
It was once again billed as “The Largest Drug Bust in … History,” and featured the zany mug shot of a crazy looking black man.
I guess stories like that get a lot of traffic and likes, shares and comments on Facebook. They feed some peoples’ overblown fears of crime and stereotypes of the black race.
Back in the day, 30 years ago during Ronald and Nancy Reagan’s so-called “War on Drugs,” I was guilty of producing such stories myself. As a reporter in Baldwin County, Alabama, I was once lured to take a ride in a small airplane with what the cops called “the Grandfather Narc,” a man who could spot marijuana plants on the ground.
We landed near a farm in north Baldwin County where a father and son had given up on making a living growing corn and tomatoes and had pot plants growing all over the place, including the barn yard. They made no attempt to hide the plants, I guess thinking they were so far out in a rural area that the cops would never look there.
I’ll never forget the photo I took that day that ran on the front page of all six Gulf Coast Newspapers. It was a sheriff’s deputy in mirrored sunglasses standing next to several pot plants a couple of feet taller than him. As a cub reporter, I was proud of my work that day I guess.
Looking back on it, it is clear that I was being used. By the cops to publicize their crack police work, maybe so the sheriff could get reelected? By a system that in places still doesn’t get what we know today: Marijuana is an herb, not a harmful drug, and should be legalized or at the very least decriminalized and allowed for medical purposes.
There is another drug scourge story making the rounds again in South Alabama as well as the nation’s capital and around Baltimore and other cities: Heroin is back. If the new hippies are going to win in the battle for the legalization of pot, and the crack heads are burned out on cocaine, the cops and the media need a new enemy. Heroin will do.
Now what to do about the game of the century. Give us a break. Give it a rest. Can’t we get along for a day, a week or a month without every routine thing under the sun being billed as the biggest or the greatest ever?
How about a little peace and quiet for a change? Get outside and promote that.
© 2015, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.