Monday, November 9, 2015

Gliniewicz shows America needs honest obits

The disgraceful circumstances surrounding the staged suicide of Illinois cop Charles Joseph Gliniewitz have me pining to return to daily news reporting.
Not because I’m eager to chase high-profile national stories again.
In fact, I’d like to return to the newsroom to assume one of the least heralded positions on the entire staff.
I want to write obituaries.
Well, not really.
I want to write warts ’n’ all death notices that lay it all out there, the good with the bad.
I call them oBITCHuaries.
Common obituaries are often disgustingly saccharine takes on the wasted lives of often mean and bitter bastards no one will miss.
Check out the obits in today’s paper either on-line or in print.
Typical is that of dearly departed Fred — and I’m changing the names and identifying characteristics of Fred because I don’t want Fred’s grieving loved ones to hunt me down and make me a candidate for tomorrow’s obits.
It says Fred died Saturday. It says Fred was beloved. It says Fred worked in the mill. It says Fred will be missed.
Well, this is going to be a bit impolite, but that’s utter bullshit.
In fact, Fred was a cheap, petty and miserable jerk. He cheated on his wife, was mean to his dog, stole power tools from work, and wore Latrobe’s worst toupee.
How do I know so much about Fred?
We were pals!
Not really, but if you live in one place long enough you become one of those people who’s either civil with everyone or always at war with someone.
So Fred and I got along. But, really, no one’s going to miss Fred.
And newspapers do a fundamental disservice to readers when these institutions that are supposed to be all about telling the truth devote two or three full broadsheet pages every day to utter fabrications.
That’s what happened with Gliniewitz.
Remember, when he was found dead September 1, we were assured America had lost a true hero. The guy worked with kids. He was beloved, a good family man, the kind of police officer we all want patrolling our towns.
Uh, this just in …
The guy was utterly despicable, the worst kind of cop.
Local officials belatedly released what they’re calling a personnel file.
It’s more like a rap sheet.
There’s sexual harassment, theft, intimidation, threats, evidence tampering, and now murder for hire.
Guaranteed, about half the people in the village of Fox Lake, population 10,537, including all his employers and fellow officers, knew he was dirty.
We knew none of this when a national manhunt was on for the three suspects — two white, one black — Gliniewitz radioed in moments before offing himself. And imagine how this story would be playing out today if officers had actually apprehended “suspects" in the phony murder.
The settlements would dwarf the $300,000 local authorities wasted in what amounted to a national snipe hunt.
Thousands attended his funeral, including hundreds of police officers who could have been out solving real crimes. Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner ordered state and federal flags flown at half-mast and bereaved citizens and philanthropic groups donated more than $20,000 to his wife, now under suspicion for being an accomplice.
And Americans already jittery over law enforcement tensions were left reeling.
This all could have been avoided if just one reporter had written an honest obit
People who so graciously intended to donate might have said, now, let’s just hold on here and see how this plays out.
Honest, I think we’d all be better off if, for better or worse, everyone was just more honest.
Today’s post was written by a man who drinks too much, works too little, is inept at even simple household tasks, avoids going to church, but still tries to live each and everyday so his eventual oBITCHuary will be short and sweet.
Mostly sweet.

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