The world stands still for no man, not even Santa Claus, so while you were all swilling eggnog, singing carols, or not doing those things while everyone else was, the world continued to turn. The Christmas weekend newshole was filled with the usual pastry cream of year-end lists and handy gift ideas, but also some actual news. On Christmas day, for example, actor Dustin Diamond of Saved By The Bell fame was arrested for allegedly stabbing someone at a bar in Port Washington, Wisconsin. Diamond initially told police he had a pen in his hand (cops found a switchblade with blood on it in his car) and accidentally stabbed another man while attempting to defend his fiancée. In cellphone video obtained by TMZ that shows the moments just before the incident, patrons can be heard exclaiming, "He's got a fucking knife!"
This doesn't seem like big news, but it does barely qualify as something that's worth it just to say you did it. Getting stabbed on Christmas? No. Getting stabbed by Screech? Pass. Getting stabbed by Screech on Christmas? I'm listening...
Christmas also saw the limited release of The Interview in about 300 theaters, as well as a rental release on YouTube, proving that I was right, the terrorists didn't win. Many are crediting the release to President Obama's rebuke of Sony at his year-end press conference, which puts Fox News in the tough spot of already having blamed Obama for the film's cancellation, and needing to figure out why releasing it was also a bad thing.
On Saturday, tens of thousands of police officers gathered for the funeral of Officer Rafael Ramos, one of two NYPD police officers murdered last week as they sat in their patrol car. In the wake of that killing, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio asked for protests of police misconduct be "suspended" until after the police funerals, a conciliatory gesture that was rewarded with some booing upon his arrival at Officer Ramos' funeral, and an ostentatious display of police back-turning as he delivered his eulogy for the slain officer.
By asking for a suspension of protests of deaths like that of Eric Garner, de Blasio validated the notion that any recognition of police misconduct is necessarily in alignment with the actions of Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who referenced Garner's death as part of his motivation for killing the two police officers. That would include de Blasio's own instruction to his son, Dante, to "take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him."
President Obama also encouraged this sort of thinking when he asked his task force to consider these killings as part of its mandate to build trust between communities and police. Unfortunately, there has been little effort to challenge this narrative in the media, because it dissolves badly under even the lightest scrutiny. During Ramos' funeral, for example, CNN's Don Lemon decided to take on Reverend Dr. Calvin O. Butts, III's insistence that the shooting and the protests are not related, and wound up trying to claim it was Butts' idea after all:
Don Lemon: "I just think it's not true to say that there is no connection."
Rev. Butts: "I think it's terrible to paint those protesters who are concerned about justice by the actions of one deranged man."
Don Lemon: "That's your brush, Pastor, not mine."
It is truly frightening that our national media, and a significant number of police officers, think it is somehow "anti-cop" to want police not to choke unarmed citizens to death. If there are two "sides" to this issue, the pro-choking side is wrong. Mayor di Blasio made a mistake by calling for a suspension of protests, when he could have as easily called for sensitivity from all quarters.
Over the weekend, a pair of transportation disasters made news. On Sunday, a fire aboard an Italy-bound ferry from Greece caused the deaths of at least 8 people, while an AirAsia airliner carrying 162 people disappeared over the Java Sea en route to Singapore from Indonesia, possibly because of the metric system, or because of something called a "mansoon: