Friday, May 29, 2009

A beer can, a stolen gun, and faulty news judgment

New Trier Township High School serves students in some of Chicago's wealthiest suburbs. It is a traditional incubator for the next generation of the Ruling Class, sending more graduates to Ivy League schools than almost any other local school. (Some years it is the unquestioned leader in Ivy League placements.)

So, I will grudgingly concede, something happening at New Trier may arguably be more newsworthy than the same thing happening at another local school.

But yesterday the local media was all a-twitter with "news" that some wisenheimer had slipped an unauthorized picture into the New Trier yearbook. That's a detail of the picture, above. The full picture shows two girls hugging at an off-campus party. One of the girls is holding, as you'll note, a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

PBR is a tad downscale for Winnetka... but that's not the story.

As WBBM Newsradio 780 reports this morning, administrators have freaked out at the discovery, sending an email to all parents, reassuring them that this photo was not in the version of the yearbook cleared by the school advisor for publication. Investigations and punishments are promised, possibly even criminal charges. (The Chicago Tribune is also running this "story".)

And -- gasp! -- further examination of the yearbook has revealed that someone slipped another unauthorized photo of a kid giving the 'freeway salute' in a Homecoming montage.

The full beer can photo was shown on one station's TV newscasts last night; another fuzzed out the girls' faces. A number of New Trier students stepped up to proffered news microphones to offer sympathy to the girls whose photo was inserted. Neither girl was actually interviewed in the newscasts I saw (I watch a couple of different channels most nights), but a lingering shot of a retreating backpack and derriere was shown on one newscast, with the reporter advising that this was one of the girls declining comment.

What a perfect world we must live in where these sorts of stupid kid tricks have the power to provoke such shock and outrage. Right?


That ruined Chicago Police SUV was being operated by a veteran Chicago policeman at the time of a collision involving two other cars. Initial reports said the police vehicle was responding to an emergency; an 85-year old man, ticketed in the crash, insisted, in a radio report I heard this morning, that the police vehicle was not using lights or sirens.

Even if the police officer was entirely at fault for the collision -- and that's an "if," not a conclusion -- what happened to the poor man after the collision is inexcusable in any civilized society.

The accident occurred at mid-day, at a busy intersection in a largely middle class area. Still no one intervened as a bystander entered the wrecked police vehicle and stole the officer's gun off his injured body.

The police officer suffered spinal injuries in the accident, injuries that may have been exacerbated by the actions of this predator who stole his gun. He may be paralyzed for life.

Someone did take a video of this outrage with a cellphone camera; there may be useful images captured by nearby surveillance cameras as well. Police are examining the footage now. Here's a link to the story on the WBBM Newsradio 780 website. Raw, uncensored anger from the police officer's comrades may be found at Second City Cop. (Warning: Much of the language used in the comments to the linked post is highly offensive, but consider the circumstances, please.)

The theft of the police officer's gun is getting some play in the media here -- but I believe the New Trier beer can incident is getting more.

What a sad, sad commentary on our society, on so many levels.

Update 5/30/09: The WGN-Tribune Breaking News Center reported last night that an arrest has been made and the injured policeman's gun recovered. I saw a comment on Second City Cop that an arrest had been made, but SCC didn't run it as a post until it had the Tribune link. (Here is a link to the Second City Cop post about the arrest.) Officer Densey Cole II remains hospitalized.


The Beach Bum said...

Curmudgeon -

You summed it up:

"What a sad, sad commentary on our society, on so many levels."

High school kids will do what High School kids do. I did it 50 years ago.

But stealing a gun from a injured Law Enforcement Officer really takes the cake.

The Beach Bum

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Well written, Curmy

Shelby said...

Meanwhile, in Chicago.. in a tired old hotel room.. newspaper execs discuss their futures.

No kidding.

Shelby said...

Well the link didn't grab the actual story - but if you go to

that will link to it.

The Curmudgeon said...

Shelby, thanks. I read and commented on Mr. Warren's column.

sari said...

I'm praying for Officer Cole, how horrible.