Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The response

Recently in my town we had a protracted *sort of* hostage stand-off. The most exciting part seemed to involve some tear gas and a guy throwing a microwave out of a hotel window. But mostly it all just involved a lot of waiting around and eventually a final apprehension in which nobody was hurt.

The strange, slow motion, let's-close-the-city-but-there's-no-danger response to this incident brought to the fore how an incident like this is handled differently based on the identity of the perpetrator. And so to assist you in identifying what might actually be going on in any future hostage stand-off you may encounter in the news I have prepared the following guide:

Your Guide to Poorly Covered Hostage Crises

If the hostage taker is: Black and poor

City/Government responders will be: City police, lots of them, heavily armed

In which: They immediately storm the building

This is covered by: The local TV news

The operation will result in: A dead guy.

And the final result will be: It turned out it wasn't actually a hostage situation, the guy was just confused and likely harmless, there are city protests, and the Grand Jury decides not to indict any police officers.

If the hostage taker is: A group of alt-right fanatics

City/Government responders will be: FBI

In which: A section of the city will be closed down for months while painfully cautious and careful negotiations carry on.

This is covered by: Full National Media saturation coverage even though nothing ever happens.

The operation will result in: Right-wingers being easily apprehended while making a desperate break for snack foods, however one guy accidentally shoots himself in the leg.

And the final result will be: Everyone found guilty and then everyone released a month later on technicalities.

If the hostage taker is: A group of left-wing protesters

City/Government responders will be: Police, CIA, FBI, National Guard.

In which: After a one-day stand-off a raid is triggered by an on edge National Guard member firing on the Police.

This is covered by: Full National Media saturation coverage, most of it inaccurate and only corrected in unpopular books written four years after the fact.

The operation will result in: The apprehension of protesters and one dead responder killed by friendly fire.

And the final result will be: A wide variety of prison sentences, little understanding that none of the protesters were armed, and a general angry sense of the protesters being responsible for the dead National Guardsman shot by a startled FBI agent.

If the hostage taker is: A White-collar fugitive.

City/Government responders will be: Local Police.

In which: There's just sort of a stand-off until the guy gives himself up.

This is covered by: Local media who somehow never manage to provide any solid information until days after the incident is finished and no one cares anymore.

The operation will result in: Who cares.

And the final result will be: I don't know. Probably some kind of trial or something.


  1. This post SHOULD score you a Pulitzer but it probably won't because, gawd forbid, you've nailed this bullshit to the wall.
    "We need snacks" indeed!

    1. Thank you. I do hope I get a Pulitzer. I have, like, ZERO writing trophies!


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