Have you heard of the Pearl River, MS shooting? An interesting meme on Facebook the other day used the incident as a way to accuse the media of bias.
It’s amusing to me how easily some people can be swayed by any argument that paints the media as being biased. But I find it sad how little research they’ll do on those claims. I saw an interesting little meme making its way around Facebook the other day, one of those familiar little graphics that accuse the media of being biased against gun owners.
This one featured white text on a black background with a photo that presumably depicts the person about whom the meme is focused. The text reads as follows:
“Ever heard of the Pearl River, MS shooting?
This 16-year-old kid was stopped by Asst. Principal Joel Myrick and his .45 pistol retrieved from his car.
Did the Gun-Free Zone stop this nut? Nope.
Did an armed citizen with a .45? Yep.
Will you hear this in the mainstream media? Nope.
Frankly, because I work in the media, I’ve learned that any time an accusation includes something about, “the media will never report this,” there’s a reason for that.
This case is no different.
I’ll admit it, though: if I didn’t know about that red flag, I’d definitely be curious to know why we aren’t reporting a story about a school administrator rushing in to stop a student before he could kill any classmates.
No matter how “anti-gun” you believe the media is, it’s a no-brainer that a story of a student bringing a gun to school itself would be enough to get coverage. Add to that the fact that an assistant principal rushed into the scene with a gun of his own and prevented a bloodbath and you’ve got a story that no reasonable news outlet would refuse to cover.
Therefore, there has to be more to this story than this little accusation is leading us to believe.
There always is.
I checked the news wires, wondering how we didn’t have this in that night’s newscasts. Sure enough, there was no mention of the story.
So I Googled it.
And I found the whole story.
Beginning with the fact that there seems to be confusion over where this happened: though the Pearl River runs through Pearl, Mississippi, Pearl River and Pearl are two different communities. This shooting happened in Pearl, not Pearl River. So much for accuracy in reporting.
More importantly, this isn’t a breaking news story. Unless you consider “breaking news” to refer to something that happened 16 years ago. Yes, it was 1997 when that 16-year-old — who gun enthusiasts would no doubt describe as “a bad guy with a gun” — was stopped by his assistant principal, the “good guy with a gun.”
To be honest with you, off the top of my head, I can’t recall any gun related story from 1997: one that ended with fatalities or one that was brought under control before a fatality occurred.
But that part about fatalities brings up another important point: the little message, as it attempts to skewer the media for not reporting the story, fails to mention a few other pertinent facts: that 16-year-old was not stopped in the act. By the time he encountered that gun-toting assistant principal, the teen had already shot two classmates to death, wounded seven others, and had left the school and was in his car attempting to leave the campus. The assistant principal merely prevented his escape from the parking lot, a valuable act, certainly, but not an act that necessarily saved lives. Snopes.com points out that while some speculated that the teen, who’d started his day by killing his mother with a butcher knife then bludgeoning her before bringing his rifle to school, was next headed to a middle school to shoot more kids, no conclusive evidence was presented to confirm this once and for all.
And in comments posted to the original graphic, several claim they remember hearing about the story. One person claimed it was all over the national news at the time. I don’t recall the story specifically, but that hardly means it wasn’t covered. And at this distance, it’s not necessarily easy to find out the extent to which it was covered. I suspect that’s what the originator is, in part, counting on.
If we really want honesty, and if we really want the whole story reported, why would we want to focus on the assistant principal and make absolutely no mention of the nine students wounded by the gunman? Could it be that mentioning those facts doesn’t serve the “agenda” of the people crying “bias”?
I think we all know the answer to that one.
You can’t believe everything you read on the internet. And when you encounter someone screaming bias, the fair thing to do, before spreading the accusations further, is to do a little research to see what the rest of the story actually is.
Patrick is a Christian with more than 26 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.