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Folly of NYT Coverage of Chris Plaskon Connecticut School Stabbing

One shocking news from last week was of a junior in high school name Chris Plaskon who stabbed a fellow student name Maren Sanchez.  It happened on Friday morning in a hallway at Jonathan Law High School in the state of Connecticut.  Apparently Plaskon had a crush on the girl and he stabbed her since she did not want to go to prom with him.

I do not want to focus my post on this story as much as a piece over at the New York Times about this unfortunate event.  The article can be accessed by clicking HERE.  Its title is quite indicative of what I’m trying to critique: “Suspect in Stabbing at Connecticut School Is Described as Popular.”

From a Christian worldview one can’t help it at times to see the folly of what the media spew out which reflect their inability to grasp a deeper understanding of what is going on or what’s really the issue (see for instance my post ““).  Theology does matter:  A wrong view of morality and ethics (depending on whether it’s source is from God or not) along with a wrong view of man (is he basically good or sinful) will shape how interpret the new story at hand.  I think this NY Times piece is a good case in point.

With pun intended, the writers and editors for this news article aren’t very sharp.

Let us begin with the title: “Suspect in Stabbing at Connecticut School Is Described as Popular.” So a guy stabs a girl to death for not going to prom and the headlines for national news is that this guy is popular?  I’m surprise the two journalists in the article didn’t gives us the friends count of Plaskon’s Facebook account or the stats of how many people followed him on twitter.  I think it is unfortunate that the title for the article  concentrated on something superficial.  As the maxim goes,  one ought not to major on the minors and minor on the majors.

In the writers’ defense, I acknowledge that sometimes its the editors who can manipulate a news article’s title in order to get attention for people to read the news piece.  It’s unfortunate today that people in the media who aren’t witty compensate by being sleazy.  We may fault the editors, but is it justified that I fault the writers?  To answer that, we must look at the content of the article itself.

The article reported an ignorant coach saying the following:

But a day after authorities say Mr. Plaskon, 16 and a junior, fatally stabbed a classmate in a school hallway, teachers and students were struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible: how a student whom many described as funny and popular could suddenly be accused of killing Maren Sanchez, 16, a well-liked honor student and his longtime friend.
“They’re looking for the kid in the black cape and the fangs and the black fingernails, but there was no sign,” said Mark Robinson, 38, who was Mr. Plaskon’s football coach before retiring last season. “He wasn’t a kid who was in the shadows. He was a well-liked kid. He was funnier than hell. That’s what makes it really strange.”

Note how this coach was quoted as saying they expected the suspect to fit a certain mold: it must be someone who enjoy wearing black apparel.  “In the Shadows.”  Not liked.  Of all the people interviewed and all the things people say, one have to wonder why these two writers have to put into the news article an unhelpful stereotype?  Now don’t get me wrong I’m not “emo,” but just because someone’s gothic or anti-social or an awkward weirdo don’t mean they are the suspect you know.  Seriously how low (superficial) can the mainstream media go?  Black fingernails doesn’t determine guilt.

Lastly I want to note what this coach Mark Robinson said in the end of his quote: “He wasn’t a kid who was in the shadows. He was a well-liked kid. He was funnier than hell. That’s what makes it really strange.”  This is a good example of how Christian theology is relevant.  Note that Robinson assumes that because a kid is not in the shadows, he’s not going to be one who commit such an atrocious sin.    He says the same thing for the “well-liked kid.”  And the kid who is funnier than Hades.  What makes it strange for Robinson is that Plaskon were all these things and yet he turned out to be the suspect.  But should a Christian be surprised that a well-liked funny kid is able to commit such heinous acts?

A Christian wouldn’t be totally caught surprised if he or she believes in the sinfulness of man as it is taught in the Bible.

This sinfulness of man began at birth.  Note the words of the Psalmist David: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin my mother conceived me.” (Psalm 51:5)

Biblically, the sinfulness of man is universal in scope.  That is, the state of man’s sinfulness is is true of everyone as Romans 3:23 states: “for all [a]have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  Psalms 14:2-3 also testify:

The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men
To see if there are any who [a]understand,
Who seek after God.
They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt;
There is no one who does good, not even one.

The Bible also teaches that man’s sinfulness ultimately is not the result of his environment or outward appearances but the inward self, what the Bible calls the heart.  Note Jesus’ words: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, [a]fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders.” (Matthew 15:19).  Jeremiah even cried:  ““The heart is more deceitful than all else And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” ( Jeremiah 17:9)  Apparently Jeremiah tells us that our sinfulness in our hearts tells us constant lies.  Fortunately God understands this and tells us in His Word.

The above is bad news to an already bad news.

But the Good News is that God has a plan to save us from our sinfulness and the eternal consequences of our sins.  To play on what the coach Robinson joked about earlier, you can’t “be funnier than hell” as a well of escape.  Instead our guilt before God is dealt with through the person and work of Jesus Christ:  “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).  This is indeed a free gift to those who trust in Him as their Lord and Savior.  It is not something earned but given by God as Ephesians 2:8-9 testify:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The Bible helps lay the foundation for us to properly assess the human condition and therefore what’s important and what’s trivial when it comes to current events.  But ultimately it is for us to properly assess ourselves and therefore come to understand and trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.

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