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Opinion: Columnists

Gregory Kane: Only one side of the story about Jordan Davis slaying

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Opinion,Gregory Kane,Columnists

They're off and running! Members of America's "we need only one side of a story" posse have saddled up and are riding roughshod again.

What's their cause this time? The death of Jordan Davis, a 17-year-old youth who was fatally shot on Nov. 23.

The incident happened in Jacksonville, Fla. According to news reports, Davis was in an SUV with several other young men. They would later admit to police that there was music coming from the SUV and that the music was loud.

Enter Michael Dunn, who, at 45, should have known that if you hear loud music coming from any vehicle, then the most appropriate -- not to mention most prudent and safest -- thing to do would be to call the police and make a disturbing-the-peace-complaint.

Both Dunn and the SUV's driver were parked at a gas station. Dunn, armed with a handgun, decided to walk up to the SUV and either ask or demand that the music be turned down.

Young people being what they are -- which is to say hopelessly stupid at times -- Dunn's request went over like flatulence at a Sunday church service. But we do have to wonder if Dunn was much brighter than the youngsters.

It was probably at this point that what I've called in the past "macho stupidity" took over. Apparently a testy exchange took place.

Dunn says the youths threatened to kill him; one of them, Dunn said, according to news reports, pointed what looked like a shotgun out of the SUV's window.

It was then and only then, Dunn and his attorney contend, that he pulled out his own handgun and fired into the SUV. Eight or nine times.

Two of the bullets hit Davis. Dunn drove from the scene and was charged with Davis' murder and the attempted murder of the other occupants of the SUV.

Davis was black; Dunn is white. (Oh come on, do you really think you'd be reading about this story if the shooter and the victims were of the same race?) It didn't take long for those committed to hearing only one side of a story to go into their act. There is now a "Justice for Jordan Davis" Facebook page. And the story is being repeated that Dunn shot Davis because of some loud music. Dunn's allegation of his being threatened and a gun being wielded are never mentioned.

Police found no weapon of any kind in the SUV, according to news reports. But those who cling to the notion that they'd like to hear as many sides of a story as possible will at least concede that, if the youths in the SUV did have a shotgun, then they might have had time to ditch it before police arrived.

That, of course, is speculation, and it doesn't help Dunn's case one iota. He'll be tried on the facts, and right now the facts don't look too good for him.

But that doesn't mean we should be convicting the man in the media, which is what seems to be happening. The biggest culprit in this might be Michael Baisden, the host of a nationally syndicated radio show.

Last week Baisden took to the airwaves to decry Davis' slaying, even telling his listeners at one point what he thought the exchange between the black youths and Dunn might have sounded like.

Then he urged his listeners to turn up the volume on their radios the next day, in memory of Davis.

So a tragedy that occurred as a result of obnoxious conduct is commemorated with more obnoxious conduct? Way to enlighten the public, Baisden. I wonder what this guy wants to be when he grows up.

Examiner Columnist Gregory Kane is a Pulitzer-nominated news and opinion journalist who has covered people and politics from Baltimore to the Sudan.

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