What does one do with more TASER Kills, TASER Death Headline Fails? Perhaps these errors could serve as a classic case study in bias & speculation. It might provide insight on how perceptions become reality.
To begin, the tragic death of a Brazilian named Roberto Laudisio Curti in Australia story continues its challenge with incorrect headlines. For example, read the original headline: “21-Year-Old Brazilian Tasered To Death By Australian Police.” That’s incorrect, yes? Nope. The autopsy results & cause of death have not been concluded. Headlines are meant to entice readers, so clearly this article won’t make the same mistake? Nope. The article states in an opening lead, “That’s right: Laudisio Curti was tasered to death.” The story made no bones about it and firmly convinced readers that a cause of death is known. Yet, this is not true & thus the news organization had to make correct these libelous statements on April 12.
The damage was done and if you had read the original article, you might have concluded that the TASER ECD was the cause of death. You would most likely then form an opinion about this issue. Your perceptions – not based on fact or science – then become your reality.
Now imagine an opinion poll at the end of that original story that asks, “Should the New South Wales Police be held accountable for this death?” When you read the uncorrected version, do you think that those incorrect words had any influence on the poll? It did.
Even in today’s Daily Telegraph, the media incorrectly states, “Officers positioned a mannequin of Mr Curti’s body… where the fatal stun gun shot was fired.” The fatal stun gun shot? So much for the cause of death not determined yet. That came, “Police in Taser death re-enactment after Brazilian man Roberto Laudisio Curti died in Sydney’s CBD.” Note the “TASER death” use in the headline & other hyperlinked stories on that samepage. Interestingly, there’s also no mention of the pepper spray use.
Pepper Spray? Do a Google search with these key words & you get a lot of results in 26 days since Mr. Curti’s March 18 death:
• Curti + TASER + Killed: 416,000 results
In 386 days since the death of Dominic Chiodo on March 18, 2012, there have been very few stories relative to Mr. Curti. Last week, this story, Coroners Court probes death of a man after he was sprayed with capsicum by police, provoked some research on comparing TASER vs pepper spray bias. Note the results:
• Dominic Chiodo + Capsicum + Killed: 515 results (using “pepper spray” vs. “capsicum” nets even less results: 246 results)
Why compare this to Dominic Chiodo?
There are many similarities but what’s interesting is the bias when a death occurs involving a TASER ECD. There is very little outcry when someone dies in custody when other products are used. In fact, how many of you knew that police said they used pepper spray to try to subdue Mr. Curti? Why aren’t the headlines “Pepper Spray Killed?”
The interesting aspect to this comparison of these two similar situations is in the numbers:
“Curti” + “pepper spray” + “killed” gets 3,360 results vs 416,000 replacing “pepper spray” with “TASER.”
So how did a story involving both pepper spray & TASER ECDs fail to mention the pepper spray in 99.9 percent of the stories? How does the media continue to state TASER Kills when causes of death aren’t known?
This is certainly a case that makes you go, “Hmmmm.”