One of the most egregious articles I have ever read appeared on Huffington Post over the weekend. In it, HuffPo blogger Janis Powers wants you to view an ordeal she went through as her own Sandra Bland case:
As we debate the boundaries of law enforcement’s authority, I am reminded of my own recent run-in with a traffic cop. While I currently live in the state if Texas, where Ms. Bland was pulled over, my incident occurred on the other side of the world in a place widely considered friendly and accommodating: New Zealand. As a visitor in any foreign country, I never expect my rights as an American to supersede those of the nation where I am traveling. But things just didn’t seem right when I was given a mandatory road-side breathalyzer test, just because I was speeding.
Wow, you had to breath in a machine. That is really the same as being forcibly removed from your car, placed in a jail cell and found dead. How ignorant can someone be?
How ignorant? Well we haven’t scratched the surface yet. In her piece, Powers concludes with:
Fortunately, the United States does not use the New Zealand model of police entrapment to catch drunk drivers. And, to my benefit, we also don’t extradite our citizens back to foreign countries where they have violated the speed limit. New Zealand law enforcement may have collected my DNA through a breathalyzer test, but they failed to collect my money for the traffic citation before I left the country. Since I can’t find the ticket here at home, am I the one who’s bending the rules?
Apparently Powers has no idea what is going on in her own country. For example, how about this from last October, which occurred about 45 minutes north of me.
The Clark County OVI Task Force, made up of 13 area agencies, had 464 drivers go through its first “no refusal” OVI checkpoint Friday at the intersection of U.S. 40 and 68.
“No refusal” means that a magistrate, prosecutor and nurse are readily available to request, sign and carry out a search warrant compelling a blood test from suspected drunk drivers who refuse a breathalyzer test.
That didn’t occur in a foreign country on the other side of the world. No, that happened right here in the USA, just outside of Dayton, Ohio, by one of our nation’s largest Air Force bases.
The diminishing of another African-American life being loss at the hands of police by a blogger who wanted to do nothing more than put a “whoa is me” piece out there hasn’t only enraged yours truly. Social media and HuffPo commenters are also disgusted. The New Zealand Herald has a nice collection of tweets showing outrage over the comparison.
But for me, as someone who has spent over a decade in the blogging world, it’s much more.
Sure us bloggers sometimes struggle to find something to write about, and when we can pull our own experiences into a story it makes it that much more powerful coming off our fingertips. We’ve all made bad comparisons before. It just happens, especially on smaller sites without an editorial staff reviewing everything. Then you add in the ability to use a site like Huffington Post to get your story out to millions and you jump on it. That’s exactly what happened here. Powers wrote the story on her own blog, and was upset it didn’t get that much traffic, so she posted it to Huffington Post.
Now I’ve had stories between here and ones we’ve published at Crooks and Liars that I felt should get more traffic and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. You then take another look at your story, and maybe even another, trying to figure out why. Apparently Powers couldn’t realize that perhaps the reason her original story was viewed by so few was because it was such a poor comparison to someone who lost their life, one that is absolutely disgusting. No that’s not what Powers thought at all. Instead she just wanted to have some sort of ego boost by pushing it over to Huffington Post, which is obvious from the headline on her own site:
And then the Sandra Bland incident happened. Less than a week after the 4th of July, right after I posted my story, the violation of a woman’s civil rights came into question when she was pulled over for a traffic violation. An awful outcome. My story about the breathalyzer incident in New Zealand is different, but the issue at hand is the same. So I re-wrote my story and…posted it to the HuffPo. Check out the newly revised “He Gave Me a Breathalyzer Test that I Couldn’t Refuse” which is now on The Huffington Post in the Crime section. That, by the way, is the 11th section I’ve been in. Count ’em:
Wow! Ego much?
Apparently yes. Powers hasn’t responded to the huge criticism she has received. As matter of fact, she hasn’t posted on her own blog since her original story on July 2, and has been Twitter silence since tweeting out her HuffPo post. My suggestion to Powers is to either address the situation and admit you messed up, or hang up the keyboard. She didn’t do a thing to help address the issues of police brutality or the violation of rights. If anything she may have hurt that issue a bit. Now we can only hope that Huffington Post will address it and try to distance themselves from Powers.