ABC News is not just satisfied with sensationalism and bad reporting a’la Brian Ross. After watching the video below with the ABC news show 20/20’s Deborah Roberts, I’ve come to the conclusion that they want you to roll over and become the victim as well.
In the episode aired last night – the evening after the shooting in Aurora, Colorado – 20/20 reported on clerks and store owners who stood up to armed robbers and fought back. Chris Cuomo introduced it as “Vigilante Video”. I think that set the tone for the episode.
In the episode, Deborah Roberts interviewed a jewelry store owner who fought back as well as a convenience store customer who attacked the gun wielding robber with bottles of beer. Neither the owner nor the customer, who by the way was shot four times, regretted their actions. While I don’t necessarily think it was the wisest thing for the customer to have gotten involved, I don’t condemn him either.
To provide a tut-tutting counter-point to people refusing to be a victim, Deborah Roberts brought in a “security expert”. Rosemary Erickson, Ph.D., is a forensic sociologist and the president of Athena Research Corporation. From her vita, it appears she specializes in working as a consultant with convenience stores, restaurants, hotels, and similar such businesses. She serves as an expert witness in civil premises liability cases and testifies on business security.
When asked if it was “heroic” to challenge a robber, Erickson responded, “I think it’s suicide.” She continued, “Because the odds are you’re the one who is going to be injured or killed.” She goes on to say that, in general, robbers just want to get the money and get out. Roberts then asks Erickson about the odds of being killed or injured if one resists based upon research. To which, Erickson responded, “They found that 82% of the deaths are when people resisted.” From that statement, you are being led to believe that being passive and not resisting is the smart thing to do in virtually all cases. In other words, you are a victim once, don’t make it worse by becoming a double-victim by resisting the robber and becoming injured as a result.
Erickson is being disingenuous because her own research seems to contradict this. There was a study from Chicago done in 1986 by Franklin Zimring and James Zuehl that provided the 82% statistic. However, in a study that Erickson did for the National Association of Convenience Stores which analyzed 79 robbery-homicides in convenience stores in 1989 and 1990, she found:
The majority of the cases appeared to be gratuitous and senseless in nature with no signs of resistance….There was evidence of resistance in only 16% of these cases.
In her later research on Teenage Robbers, she found them to be more violent than adult robbers and were twice as likely to hurt or kill their victims. In cases where people were hurt or killed, her survey of teenage inmates found:
The juvenile robbers were asked whether in those robberies in which someone was hurt or killed they had planned to use the weapon in advance. Over half said they did plan to use it before they went in to do the robbery
I’m not sure who at ABC News decided that this episode was the right one to air on the evening after the Aurora shooting but I really do question their motives. To encourage non-resistance in the face of armed criminals ignores just how many compliant persons have been murdered because they were a witness or because it gave the perpetrator a thrill. The media should not be encouraging people to be like sheep before the slaughter.
To say I was disgusted is enough. I don’t want to even get started on so-called gun free zones which, as Massad Ayoob once noted, are nothing but hunting preserves for psychopaths.
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