News articles about Missouri death row inmate Scott McLaughlin helped me figure out what my new year’s resolution would be.
In 2003, McLaughlin raped and killed his ex-girlfriend. This week, Gov. Mike Parson denied McLaughlin’s clemency request saying via press release, “[T]he State of Missouri will carry out the sentence of Scott McLaughlin as ordered by the Supreme Court of Missouri.”
That’s a terribly useless sentence which I ordinarily wouldn’t quote. But the most important word in the press release is contained in the name “Scott.” Because Scott, though on death row for a very heinous crime, is given deference from the media and gets to go by his new preferred name, Amber, having “transitioned” in some kind of way within the last few years.
And it’s not just that Scott is being called Amber. Or a transgender woman. He’s being referred to as forever having been such. To wit: A spokesman for the Missouri Department of Correction told a reporter, “It is extremely unusual for a woman to commit a capital offense, such as a brutal murder, and even more unusual for a women to, as was the case with McLaughlin, rape and murder a woman.”
There are countless articles that say McLaughlin would be “the first woman executed by the state of Missouri since 1976.” And then there’s the way in which McLaughlin is described in 2003 and in his previous child sex convictions dating back into the 1990s. He’s described as “she” and “her” as if that were true at the time. Articles say McLaughlin “raped and killed her girlfriend” (emphasis added).
No one bothered to ask Beverly Guenther, McLaughlin’s murder victim, how she feels about the media posthumously redefining the nature of their relationship.
Even though the governor’s office refers to McLaughlin as “Scott,” the media reinforces the trans narrative and never uses his “dead name.” He’s always Amber. Always she and her.
It reminds me of how quickly the media adopted other narratives for us to follow, Covid being an obvious example. But there are others, too — some with staying power, like global warming, and others more fleeting. (Remember murder hornets and monkeypox?)
The truth is, people don’t know the whole truth about much of anything. A lot of what we perceive to be our political and media reality is really noise, fabrication, and nonsense. Made up facts. Phony problems. Pretend divisions. Twisted stats. Slanted research. Pretend objectivity. It’s in what you read and what’s not allowed in the press.
My resolution is to shed light on the distortions, big and small, so that you can more effectively make your own decisions about what’s really important and what you're told is true or important because it suits someone else’s agenda. The truth will out. Here’s to a powerful, truth telling new year.
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