End Code of Silence for everyone
Southwest News-Herald Newspaper Jan. 11, 2013
By Ray Hanania
I don’t understand Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy.
One day he’s in front of the cameras arguing that a recent court ruling on the Police Department’s “Code of Silence” is bad for the city.
Then the next day, McCarthy is telling reporters he wants to enlist celebrities to support a campaign to make snitching on criminals a good thing.
Is McCarthy bi-polar? Or just a typical government hypocrite?
McCarthy wants to end the practice of redefining the negative image the public has of “snitching” to be a good thing. He is reaching out to former basketball great Michael Jordan and other football and basketball stars including Derrick Rose, hoping their popularity can help make snitching by members of the public a good thing.
But McCarthy didn’t seem to eager to end the same practice involving his police employees.
Last November, a jury concluded some Chicago police adhere to a code of silence to protect their fellow officers. The jury awarded $850,000 to bartender Karolina Obrycka who was brutally beaten by off-duty police officer Anthony Abbate. Abbate’s supervisors and colleagues tried to cover up his crime.
Let me be clear. Snitching is a good thing. But is it ever a bad thing?
The other day, my son came home from school and asked me what the meaning was of an Arabic word he heard two of his Arab school buddies using. It’s a bad word in any language. It started with Kha— and is the Arabic word for Sh–.
But the Arab kids were saying it loudly and the teachers didn’t know what it means.
At first, I suggested that my son tell his teacher. Then I stopped and said, no, don’t tell your teacher. Let me have mommy call your teacher. And then I thought. Why is it my responsibility to put my son in a predicament where he might have to suffer for blowing the whistle on a few classmates who can get away with swearing in their parent’s language because the teachers are unprepared?
It was a dilemma.
What’s the difference between saying “s-t” in English and then saying it in Arabic, “Kh—a?”
And what’s the difference between a member of the public not turning in a relative who may have been involved in an act of violence and a fellow police officer not testifying against a drunken off-duty colleague who beats the crap, or “kh—a” out of a female barmaid at a local bar?
The truth is we have exceptions to ethics and principles.
Of course it is wrong to swear in English, but is it swearing when the word is in Arabic and the teachers and most of the class have no idea what’s being said?
So why should McCarthy argue that the public should snitch on their friends and relatives to identify people who commit criminal acts and not demand that the people he controls does the same thing?
In the case of school, my son shouldn’t tell on his friends. It should come from me or from his mom. After all, we’re the adults. He’s still a child.
But what is Chief McCarthy, then, when he is inconsistent with ethics?
Or does it come down to how we do say it?
“Crap” and “poop” are okay but “kha-a” and “s—t” are not?
Doesn’t the meaning of what’s being said – or done – have any meaning in this debate?
If you ask me, it’s a lot of “kha—a” … oops! I mean, a lot of “crap.”
(Ray Hanania is an award winning columnist. Reach him at www.TheMediaOasis.com.)
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"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."
Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).
Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.
Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.
His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.
The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.
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