EDITORIAL: RNRF Reports Controversial Topics and That Will Never Change – Pit Bulls and Arrests
EDITORIAL: Tom Lemons, RNRF
On the very rare occasion I force myself to write an editorial, even though I know it’s probably not in my best interest. All my editorials have resulted in fiery debates and almost always lead to personal attacks against me by those sitting comfortably behind their keyboards. Well it’s that time again.
Online news has become the most readily available and popular form of broadcast in the world. Whether it be print, radio, or cable news, all forms of media have converted or added an online presence.
There are pros and cons to being a small online news outlet, thankfully most of them pros, but sometimes our stories raise the blood pressure of those who are either directly related to the subject or passionate about the content. In the last few days that’s exactly what’s happened and the outcome has not been pretty.
RNRF, like most media outlets, make errors from time to time, especially when stories are developing and the flow of information is constantly changing. This is an especially challenging for Real News Real “Fast” because, well, the entire premise behind our model – being fast. So, lets dive right in.
Over the last 6 or 7 years, RNRF has reported on dog attacks through Hernando and surrounding counties and the Pit Bull breed is almost always the culprit in every story we publish. Yes, I used the word Pit Bull; a word nearly as offensive as using a racial slur or someone admitting they cast their vote for Donald Trump. And that leads us to a story we ran last night involving a deputy who was bitten by a dog during an incident on Deltona Blvd. (CLICK FOR FULL REPORT)
Outrage over the already provocative article turned hostile after receiving information that the animal we reported as being a Pit Bull was most likely a different breed altogether. Of course we immediately corrected the article and noted that when full report was available, we would make a final update. But that didn’t matter because the anti-RNRF loyal viewers were already full steam ahead with how much they hate me and my reporting. Oddly, there were only one or two commenters who asked how the deputy was doing after he was bitten.Has it become so “PC” to use the word Pit Bull that a reporter is not allowed to mention the word in a news report? Do we have to add PitBulliphobe to our list of “phobes” in America?
People often refer to our articles as Pit Bull hate speech, rather than what they are intended for which is simply reporting an incident involving a Pit Bull. People ask, “Why don’t you mention other breeds in your headlines” and “Why do you always bash the breed”? Let’s be frank, the Pit Bull’s bite is more damaging than most other breeds. It’s not that a Pit Bull is “Evil” or that we search for stories on Pit Bull attacks, they happen every day and almost always lead to serious injury. People say, “It’s not he breed, it’s the owner.” Well, then should there be regulations that prevent irresponsible owners from possessing a Pit Bull? According to a popular website, www.dogbite.org, in 2016, Pit Bulls contributed to 71% (22 of 31) of all dog bite fatalities in the United States. The same breed, with Rottweilers coming in second, contributed to 77% (22 Pit Bull and 2 Rottweiler) of all recorded deaths between 2005 and 2016. There are also entire countries, states, counties, and municipalities that have banned or have restrictions on Pit Bull ownership.
Now, I know that Pit Bull owners will say “But mine has never hurt anyone” and “Pit Bulls are sweet loving companions”. That may be a fact for many, if not most Pit Bull owners, but it doesn’t dismiss the fact that when a Pit Bull bites, it’s not going to end well for the victim. And I have seen the damage Pit Bulls do to infants, toddlers, adults, and other pets – you don’t want me to share those images.
Let’s compare gun control to Pit Bull ownership. Anti-gun activists want to ban assault rifles, even though they are no deadlier than a handgun. It’s the scary appearance of an assault rifle that makes people think they are more dangerous, right? How about comparing them to exotic animal ownership. You can’t own a Cobra, Tiger, or other potentially lethal animals without a permit. So, if a Pit Bull’s attack is factually more destructive than a Poodle, Collie, or Chihuahua, don’t you think maybe there should be at least some restrictions, mandatory training, or something?
The point I’m trying to make is that RNRF is not anti-Pit Bull. We are simply reporting what the information we receive as it pertains to dog attacks in our viewing area. And without a doubt, Pit Bulls contribute to the vast majority of attack reports that we receive. If you want to quell the Pit Bull stories, then responsible Pit Bull owners should be proactive in proposing regulations.
It should be noted that just today a woman was bitten by a Pit Bull in Hernando County – but I don’t think I’ll be reporting that story.
Now, let’s move on to another hot topic that always stirs up controversy.
Today, RNRF reported the arrest of 31-year-old Debbie Dotson who, according to officials, slapped her boyfriend’s “ba**s” during a domestic dispute on Saturday. (FULL STORY) You would think that people might find a bit of humor in the story and as expected most did, but what I didn’t expect was the onslaught of viscous attacks by those who know Dotson.
After posting the article, Debbie Dotson and several friends and family members begged me to remove the article because “she was the one abused” and “I’ve never been in trouble before”. I explained to Dotson that we NEVER remove articles under any circumstance but I did offer Dotson an option to add her comments to the story. She refused and no matter how compassionate my responses, Dotson and her gang of keyboard bandits began a viscous social media campaign against me and RNRF.
I tried to explain that she was arrested because of stiff domestic violence laws but she continued to state that she has been abused for months and that I’ve ruined her life. No matter what I said, nothing was going to change her mind that RNRF and the arresting deputy destoryed her life.
So, the point I’m trying to make is that regardless of it’s a Pit Bull story, a Domestic Violence arrest or any other circumstance, RNRF just reports the news. We don’t have a crystal ball to view the lives of each subject and determine innocence or guilt. We can only go by the information that is provided to us through media releases and other reliable sources.
RNRF is controversial, that will never change. RNRF reports on issues no other outlet will ever touch, that will never change. RNRF will make mistakes and then correct them as quickly as possible, that will never change. RNRF does not hate Pit Bulls and we don’t judge those who are arrested. As a matter of fact, we don’t judge or provide opinion on anything unless we are editorializing, like I am right now.
I want to take this time to thank all our loyal and supportive viewers for standing by RNRF, whether you agree or disagree with our reports. That is the true meaning of Freedom of Speech.
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