At the top of the story is a parenthetical, meant to calm the cries of foul for the story after it hit social media and Cleveland.com was excoriated for it.
(Update: A line has been added to this story to give insight into the motivation to investigate the parents’ background)
The story is all about Leonard Warner. Yes, that Leonard Warner. Who, you ask? Why, Leonard Warner. Have you been hiding under a rock? You know, Leonard Warner. Of course, if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t seek legal advice from past episodes of the Kardashians, the name may not mean much to you. That’s because it shouldn’t. That’s because the name is utterly irrelevant to anything whatsoever.
And that’s why Cleveland.com inserted the explanatory parenthetical. And that’s why thoughtful people everywhere ripped Cleveland.com a new one for having posted the story. It’s not merely outrageous, but feeds the public ignorance by suggesting that it matters and is worthy of space.
People from across the region have been asking whether Rice grew up around violence. The Northeast Ohio Media Group investigated the backgrounds of the parents and found the mother and father both have violent pasts.
See? It’s the National Enquirer mentality; give us some absurd yet sordid details, no matter how irrelevant, so we can bask in the glory that our trailer park isn’t the biggest cesspool ever. And there’s Cleveland.com, happy to oblige and accept your clicks. What? Didn’t you realize they had wifi at the trailer park? You’re such a snob.
But did “people from across the region” really ask Cleveland.com to feed them irrelevant nonsense? Maybe, though there is no evidence offered to suggest it’s anything more than a post hoc excuse for the story. It harkens back to the claim of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson that he released the video of the “strong arm robbery” of Swisher Sweets by Michael Brown in response to all the media requests.
Except there were none. It was a lie to get the video out there, incorporate it into the narrative even though it had nothing to do with the killing of Michael Brown, and smear the dead kid and create a connection between reality and the myth. To this day, inquiring minds connect this to the killing, despite the subsequent admission that it bore no connection. Once a piece of feces is thrown against a wall, it can’t be unthrown in the minds of those determined to reach their desired conclusion.
Leonard Warner, who fathered the 12-year-old boy fatally shot by a Cleveland police officer Saturday, has multiple convictions for the abuse of women, court records show.
Fathered? A loaded word indeed, demanding yet further detail to inquiring minds.
Warner is estranged from Rice’s mother Samaria Rice, who pleaded guilty to drug trafficking last year and assault in 2001.
The same year, on Dec. 8, 2001, she was the victim of domestic violence. Warner was her knife-wielding attacker at a home in the 3800 block of East 92nd Street, according to a court document. The report does not say if Rice was injured.
“But wait!”, as they say in late night informercials. “There’s more!!!”
In 2010, Warner was arrested again for domestic violence. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years probation.
Samaria Rice was the victim in that case, according to the court.
Get out the popcorn. This is fascinating stuff. But what about baby mama, that drug dealing assaulter and aficionado of fellows who treat her poorly?
She called Strongsville police twice in 2010 to report abuse from a boyfriend when she lived in that city.
In one case, told police that her live-in boyfriend, Michael Wiley, of Cleveland, had beaten her for two days.
Wiley was convicted of domestic violence and given a suspended 90-day jail sentence, county court records show.
Wiley? Well now, don’t we need to know all about this Michael Wiley character, and what he did in his youth to show how he would be a domestic abuser deserving his suspended 90-day sentence? After all, it says, “in one case,” which certainly implies that Wiley has others. Maybe dozens. Maybe hundreds. Don’t “people from across the region” have the right to know all the sordid details? Doesn’t Cleveland.com owe it to their readers to give them the juiciness they demand?
It would come as no surprise if, upon learning of the execution of 12-year-old Tamir Rice, would want to know sordid details of all manner, even though it has absolutely no rational connection to the one, and only one, reason for his killing: Tamir Rice was killed because rookie Police Officer Timothy Loehmann shot him. Whether Rice won the Most Empathetic Kid in Cleveland, 2014, award or had a history of stealing a zillion Swisher Sweets played no conceivable role unless Loehmann’s shot was in some way caused by it. It wasn’t.
Boom! It doesn’t matter. And anyone asking for irrelevant sordid details is a moron. Perhaps a moron trained by past experience to relish in irrelevant misery, but a moron. Yet, people are constitutionally entitled to be morons, Darwin notwithstanding. The “people across the region” can ask Cleveland.com for such utterly irrelevant sordid details if that’s the sort of stuff that lights their fire.
But what cannot be explained, no less justified, is the willingness, if not outright glee, in providing the unsavory background of a person who has been killed, harmed, maimed, victimized by police when it has no conceivable relevance to the story. This is the smear.
It’s bad enough that too many Americans see connections between the smear and the wholly irrelevant act of harm that befalls people. Akai Gurley had prior arrests? But his killing was arbitrary. The only possible significance of his priors was that his life, and therefore his death, was someone rendered insignificant by his past.
When it came to Tamir Rice, it was hard. The kid was only 12 years old, and how much bad stuff could be found to diminish the worth of his life? And so Cleveland.com had to smear his parents and their paramours to come up with the nastiness that “people across the region” demanded of them.
Yeah, right. And if his parents were saints, it would have been the mailman. Keep looking until you find somebody who did something unsavory in which to show that the dead kid’s life just isn’t worth enough to lose sleep over.
Whether Cleveland.com is lying (which I suspect it is) doesn’t matter; what matters is that they feed the stupid, the prejudiced, the ignorant. What they did was a disgrace, regardless of who wants to know.
Update: In response to the reactions of disgust and outrage, Northeast Ohio Media Group (which owns Cleveland.com) offers its “explanation” for why it published the story of Tamir Rice’s parents’ legal issues:
One of the questions these people raise is why a 12-year-old was walking about in a public place, randomly aiming what looks like a real gun in various directions, to the point where a witness called 9-1-1 in fear.
In a city where, as our series noted, police are quick to resort to force, a 12-year-old randomly aiming a gun in a public place is in mortal danger. One way to stop police from killing any more 12-year-olds might be to understand the forces that lead children to undertake behavior that could put them in the sights of police guns.
So our reporters at NEOMG have been looking into Tamir’s background, to see if he lived a life exposed to violence that could explain why it might be normal for him to randomly aim what looks like a real gun in a public place.
Trying to rationalize their irrelevant and disgraceful conduct by co-opting the visceral “why” adds a new layer of disingenuousness to the mix. Why was Tamir Rice so evil? Why did he have what appeared to be a “real looking gun”? But then, Chris Quinn, the official Apologist for NEOMG, takes a swan dive into the shit hole:
Oh no you don’t. Unless we’re to assume that Quinn is dumber than dirt, he’s a liar. There is no logical nexus between what happened with Tamir Rice’s parents and his being “no stranger to violence.” How dare you try to pass off that garbage as logical.
People asked what the criminal histories of Tamir’s parents has to do with the central story of a boy being shot by police. Again, we believe it may shed further light on why this 12 year old was waving a weapon around a public park.
I don’t agree with the criticism, as I believe our duty is to illuminate.
If the good people of northeast Ohio were outraged before at being treated as if they’re incapable of rational thought and spend all day watching reruns of New Jersey housewives, this should hit the breaking point.
Yes, Quinn, you have a duty to illuminate. You not only failed miserably to fulfill that duty, but have done everything in your power to make the people who read your content stupider by a magnitude for having done so. You suck.
H/T Cristian Farias