A weapon is where you find it. For a bum in New York, the weapon selected for a random killing was a subway train. True, it may not have been a random killing. The murderer, Naeem Davis, was verbally abusing the victim, Ki Suk Han (in some sources, Ki-Suck Han), before pushing him to his death. There may have been a racial element involved. also, Davis has never been adjudicated mentally ill, but that may be more absence of adjudication than of illness; he is a homeless bum, something strongly correlated with mental illness and substance abuse).
Now, the press will call Naeem Davis an “accused” murderer, but he was caught on camera, identified by witnesses, and has confessed to police. That may not taint his legal presumption of innocence. Indeed one of the tens of thousands of self-serving and nihilistic lawyers who swarm New York like fleas on a dying rat may win Davis’s acquittal, setting him free, no doubt to kill again (to extend the metaphor, would this make the lawyer the rickettsia organism that uses the rat and the flea alike to spread its typhus? Making the lawyer the rat does not work, because the rat is an unwitting vector in the spread of typhus. Perhaps we extend the metaphor too far, or perhaps we’re too kind to the lawyers). But while the law says Davis is innocent until the fat jury sings, you know, we know, and Naeem Davis knows he murdered Han. (Come to think of it, Han, wherever he is, know it, too).
The media reaction is remarkable. They are disinclined to blame Davis for the crime he alone committed. Apart from some tentative forays into blaming poor Han (“he started an argument!” “He had been drinking!” All of these are proxies for what the press means but dares not say, “he’s Korean and not a minority we care about, unlike the back guy”), the object of their ire has been one of their own — the guy who took the picture of the doomed Han, R. Umar Abbasi.
One of the more reasonable reactions was Jack Mirkinson’s at the Huffington Post. After setting up the story in the grafs below, he let Abassi have his own say by quoting his Post piece.
The photographer who captured the notorious image of a man about to be killed by an oncoming subway car defended himself in multiple interviews on Tuesday and Wednesday, saying that he had no chance to help the man out of the subway tracks where he had been pushed.
The New York Post sparked outrage by putting the horrifiying picture of Ki Suk Han’s imminent death on its front page on Tuesday. The picture was taken by R. Umar Abbasi, a freelance photographer for the Post who happened to be in the subway station. He said he had started taking snaps so that the driver of the subway would see his camera’s flash and be alerted that something was wrong.
Mirkinson also quoted from, and included a clip of, one of Abassi’s TV interviews, where he was grilled by NBC entertainment folks on the Today show, with Matt Lauer essentially blaming Abbasi for the murder of Han.
Slate likewise zeroed in on the alleged wrongdoing of Mr Abbasi in not, somehow, magically leaping to Han’s rescue (people who do this do not understand the phyics of time, space, and especially, trains). Slate’s J. Bryan Lowder, too, elides how Han got over the platform in the first place; he “was pushed over the platform,” Lowder mumbles, using the first tool in the dishonest writer’s toolbox, passive voice. Having erased Davis, rather directly the agent of Han’s death, Lowder spends the rest of the post attacking Abbasi, and then shifts fire… not to the actual killer, but to the subway he used as his instrument: “the dismal state of our outdated transit system that is laughable in its lack of modern guard gates.”
Lowder admiringly quotes the shock/schlock website Gawker’s attack on Abbasi, too (not worth a link). It doesn’t take Karnak the Magnificent to guess what Lowder thinks about guns and crime.
But nobody focused on why poor Mr Han is dead. As usual, the media is navel-gazing and for those preening d-bags, the inside media story is all that matters. For Mr Han, the speeding subway train was all that mattered, and if NBC had any logic to their positions they would now call for train control.
But Mr Han would never have put himself in front of that train. He was murdered by one of the many shiftless bums that have reappeared in New York in lawless swarms since Mayor of Manhattan Bloomberg took over from the stricter Guiliani. Davis has an extensive, but minor, criminal record — dating back to the Guiliani era, before the current slacking-off.
And Davis proved once again that the vital ingredient in murder is not the weapon in a man’s hand, but the evil in his heart.