BOSTON (CBS) – Sometimes around the newsroom we joke about how certain stories are evergreens, predictable news items that make you wonder if you couldn’t save time by just re-running them each year. The pre-Thanksgiving travel crush, for instance; Black Friday shopping; politicians caught stretching the truth.
But there are some modern-day evergreens that aren’t the least bit funny.
Consider the violence in downtown Charlotte this week in the wake of another police shooting of an apparently unarmed African-American.
If the public has confidence in police and community leaders when this kind of incident occurs, there may be peaceful protests, but for the most part everyone waits for the facts to be determined. If not, conclusions are jumped to, people take to the streets, rage is expressed and revenge is taken, often in ways such as looting and arson that damage the credibility of legitimate protestors.
And everyone chooses up sides. Police apologists go after the victim; police antagonists go after the cops.
Decent politicians and civic leaders trying to stand up for truth and justice find themselves marginalized. No one goes home happy.
Underlying problems usually just get worse.
The repetition of this sort of story is a sign of weakness, of a culture without self-respect that can’t keep from scratching its worst itches.
We can only hope we live to see a day when its recurrence seems foreign, not all-too-familiar.
Listen to Jon’s commentary: