The Stanford Rape Case and the Role of Corporate Media

Back in College I once took a Sociology course on Mass Media and Semiotics. Semiotics is the study of signs and symbols. Of the few things I seem to recall learning from that class was the following kernel of wisdom imparted by our professor: “Media doesn’t so much tell you what to think, as it tells you what to think about“.

Brock Turner

Brock Turner

Case in point, currently the mainstream news, the internet blogosphere and social media are being saturated with coverage on the recently convicted Stanford University rapist Brock Turner, whose actions are without doubt both reprehensible and indefensible. As a result of this coverage, many people are understandably feeling a sense of outrage over the news, the manner in which the incident has been handled and a comparatively lenient 6-month sentence handed out by Judge Aaron Persky. An online petition has been formed that now consists of over 1 million signatures calling for this Judge’s removal.

In the midst of the current barrage of reporting, op-eds, blogging, viral videos, and social memes, regardless of what you may think, while you are busy thinking about the Stanford rape case, you are however not busy thinking about the case of Felipe Peralez, a former La Joya, Texas cop who as of 2015 was charged and found guilty of raping a woman while she was in custody over a probation violation at the La Joya City Jail where he supervised. Like Brock Turner, Peralez also received just a six month sentence (plus 1 additional month in County jail).

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Peace Officer Documentary: Part I – No Legitimate Basis For Government

peace-officer documentary

This week I attended a special screening of the documentary film Peace Officer, a winner of numerous 2015 film festival awards.

Peace Officer is a feature documentary about the increasingly militarized state of American police as told through the story of William “Dub” Lawrence, a former sheriff who established and trained his rural state’s first SWAT team only to see that same unit kill his son-in-law in a controversial standoff 30 years later. Driven by an obsessed sense of mission, Dub uses his own investigative skills to uncover the truth in this and other recent officer-involved shootings in his community while tackling larger questions about the changing face of peace officers nationwide.

The film was compelling, and while primarily centered on Dub Lawrence, who who will surely graduate life with honors (and appears to exude an amount of joy uncharacteristic of his circumstances, whether it be lowering himself by crane into a backed up sewer drain or recounting the 4-year long investigative odyssey into his son-in-law’s homicide), I felt there was also a near equal allotment of camera time given to the various other subjects of the film including those on either side as well as those sitting on the fence in regards to the topic of police militarization and accountability.

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