Friday, April 9, 2010

False Assumptions

The Media and Human Rights Symposium, which we mentioned in Wednesday's post, received good coverage in Southern Methodist University's newspaper, with the headline "Murder victim's family opposes the death penalty":

... Human rights scholars and activists presented messages about race, ethics, justice, media and the death penalty.

The death penalty presentation attracted a large audience and various panelists, including Dallas Criminal District attorney Craig Watkins, associate dean at DePaul University College of Law Andrea Lyon and board member of Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights Jean Bishop.

Murder Victims’ Families for Human rights is an international, non-governmental organization for family members of murder victims of the executed, all of who oppose the death penalty.

Bishop began her speech with a powerful story about her younger sister Nancy. Nancy was three months pregnant when she and her husband, Richard Langert, were shot and killed in their home. The 16-year-old who committed the murder is now serving a life sentence without parole.

While Bishop and her family were grieving this tragedy, the media surrounded their homes, trying to get a story on the family’s opinion of the death penalty. However, Bishop condemned the media, and refused to speak to journalists after false assumptions regarding her view on the death penalty were publicized.

“The last thing I would want is to enlarge the pool of blood,” Bishop said. “The media assumed [my family] wanted him dead.”
In an attempt to prevent the media from printing false assumptions about criminal cases, Bishop concluded her speech with three lessons to journalists: 1. Forget ‘the scoop mentality,’ 2. Look out for the myths and 3. Don’t assume that every single victim will be put on death row. ...

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