Police in Texas are refusing to name the gunman responsible for killing seven people at a traffic stop in Odessa. However, seemingly everyone covering the story has their own subtle agenda at play. A rifle-toting gunman killed seven people and injured more than 20 others on Saturday. After blasting state troopers at a traffic stop, the murderer indiscriminately fired on passers by from the window of his pickup truck, before he was killed in a shootout with police. Although the gunman was initially identified by media outlets as 36-year-old Seth Ator, Odessa police chief Michael Gerke said at a press conference on Sunday that he would refuse to name the suspect. “I’m not going to give him any notoriety for what he did,” Gerke told reporters. Gerke’s motives may have been noble. Indeed, after every mass shooting, a debate over whether to publicize or deliberately ignore the shooter’s identity resurfaces, with some arguing that blanket media coverage only serves to inspire copycat slayers. Though the argument has existed as long as Americans have engaged in mass killings, it took on new life in 2013, when Rolling Stone magazine treated Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to a cover story, complete with a flattering, Jim Morrison-style portrait. However, some commenters have accused Gerke of staying silent for more ignoble reasons. Ator is a white male, and some more racially sensitive online commenters claimed that Gerke was trying to protect his fellow caucasian. Mass shootings are a white man’s game, broadly speaking. The US Congress defines a mass shooting as a single incident in which three or more people are murdered, though looser definitions exist. Of 114 mass shootings between 1982 and this May, 110 perpetrators were male, 64 of them white, 19 black, 10 latino, and eight asian. However, Black men shoot at random too. As Saturday’s tragedy in Texas played out, police in Mobile, Alabama, arrested 17-year-old DeAngelo Parnell and charged him with nine counts of attempted murder, after he allegedly opened fire on a high school football game the night before. Nine teenagers were wounded, and police publicly identified the shooter. In media coverage of the incident, the same racial argument played out in reverse. This time, CNN was accused of concealing Parnell’s race while loudly proclaiming the race of the Texas shooter. “Why?” one commenter wrote, “CNN wants racial division.” If Twitter arguments are to be believed, Texas police operate a Klan-style ‘good ol’ boys’ network to let their fellow whites off the hook, while CNN is run by a sinister cabal of manipulators bent on inciting racial hatred. The factors that lead to a mass slaying are complex – access to guns, mental health, drug abuse, personal vendettas and grievances to name but a few – but what’s universal is the manner in which everybody spins, or is perceived to spin, these tragedies to suit their own agendas. RT


It has been accused of removing some of the spontaneous joy football brings to so many fans and Juventus superstar Cristiano Ronaldo alluded to his feelings on it as he mocked VAR after scoring against Napoli on Saturday night.

The prolific Portuguese forward steered home a left-footed finish to put Juve 3-0 ahead in a classic encounter that the Serie A champions would eventually win 4-3, after a storming Napoli comeback was canceled out by a spectacular Kalidou Koulibaly own goal.

But fans expecting to see Ronaldo’s iconic pirouetted ‘Si!’ celebration after his goal were left disappointed, as he instead wheeled away before making the ‘VAR’ signal and sarcastically urging the crowd to calm down.

The unusual celebration came after the Juve number 7 was denied a goal against Parma on the opening day of the season when VAR ruled out the strike for offside by a wafer-thin margin.

While there was nothing to indicate any infringement with Ronaldo’s goal against Napoli, he nonetheless jokingly urged fans to restrain their joy until the strike was confirmed.

Footage of the crowd even showed some supporters imploring Ronaldo to pull out the trademark celebration, although they were to be disappointed as he merely walked away smiling with teammates.

The moment in Turin might be considered light-hearted and minor, but coming as it does amid the broader debate on the use of VAR it adds to the question as to how much of a killjoy the technology will be to the outbursts of emotion that adorn the game.

The increasing introduction of VAR – which covers ‘clear and obvious’ errors by the referee in the key areas of goals, penalty decisions, red cards and mistaken identity – will widely be welcomed by fans across Europe if it can rule out the most blatant of injustices in the game.

But there is a fine line between ensuring that fairness prevails and micro-managing the fun out of football.

Ronaldo’s disallowed goal against Parma would be a prime example – a few millimeters of shoulder blade offside and the goal was ruled out by VAR.

The decision was correct by the letter of the law, but led to questions over how much VAR should be used to apply increasing scrutiny to laws that seemed straightforward before.

Now that VAR means we can detect a toenail being offside, should the offside rule itself be adjusted so that it benefits more the attacking team, and involves an advantage such as ‘daylight’ having to be between the attacker and defender?

Moreover, how can decisions be made more quickly and better-communicated to fans in the stadiums, who are often at a loss as to what is going on when VAR is being applied?

There is the counter-argument that, along with instilling more fairness into football, VAR actually adds excitement in the tension provided by waiting for decisions to be confirmed or rejected.

But at the moment, the interludes being placed into games and the prospect of fans and players having to curb their celebrations for fear of someone being a millimeter offside seem like too high a price to pay.

Ronaldo’s VAR-trolling celebration on Saturday night may seem trivial, but it highlights questions over the role the technology will play in football, for better and for worse.

VAR is here to stay, but if it deprives us of such iconic celebrations as Ronaldo’s ‘Si!’, it could mean an increasing chorus of ‘No!’ from fans.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here