Kenya: The Day In “Disaster Porn”

In Kisumu, about 200 miles (322 kilometers) west of Nairobi, a morgue attendant said there were 46 bodies with bullet wounds, all shot multiple times and many in the back. The only arms reporters have seen at protests and riots have been held by police officers. –International Herald Tribune, January 5

Kenya’s Rigged Election (The Nation, U.S.)

… the Western penchant for “disaster porn” coverage hasn’t shed much light on the situation, as horrifying images of mayhem and murder inevitably lead to ill-informed speculations regarding long-suppressed hatreds boiling to the surface. CNN, for example, described the crisis as taking shape between a “majority” and “minority” tribe. In fact, Kenya is a polyglot nation of more than thirty different ethnicities, none of which are a demographic majority. Tribal violence is an effect of the crisis provoked by the rigged election, not its cause.

The W$J reports today that CNN talking head Lou Dobbs is denying plans to run as an “independent populist” — but is not ruling it out, either.

Personally, I am waiting for the “reality-based community” candidate to emerge. See also

Dan Rather lost his job — unfairly, he will argue in court — over a much less clear-cut case of vouching for nonexistent factoids.

Ethnic strife brands west Kenya, insists the Chicago Tribune. Possibly an unfortunate metaphor:

brand: burn with a branding iron to indicate ownership; of animals

Most asinine apology for peddling “disaster porn” I have seen so far:

The Rashomon effect, in a cluster of filings from the same four-hour period (according to Google News):

I cannot find it again, but I also read the headline “Death toll soars past 600″ this morning.

Very interesting analysis from The Nation (Kenya):

I have yet to see any reality-testing of very serious and inflammatory claims about a role allegedly played by the political use of police and proxy violence — including a charge that members of a Nairobi street gang were given badges and guns.

See also

AllAfrica ($?) just now:

But

Do Kenya police normally randomly shoot people? See

The International Herald Tribune, a couple of days ago:

If it bleeds, it leads:

Noor Adam screamed his children’s names again and again as he lay bleeding from a bullet wound in front of his blazing shop, but they burned to death anyway.

Police from different tribes:

The Kenyan shopkeeper said the fire was started by police from a different tribe. Police deny the accusation, though human rights groups accuse them of unjustified killings and excessive force in response to riots protesting disputed election results that have killed more than 300 people.

On the other hand, the “bleeds and leads” narrative lede here does provide one element that has been missing from a lot of the coverage: Accounting for individual human corpses, with names and addresses.

Two down, 598 to 998 to go.

Government spokesman Mutua:

These are serious allegations … I would be very shocked. The police have been very restrained,” said government spokesman Alfred Mutua. He said anyone shot by police was probably a rapist. And he charged that Odinga was telling people to accuse the police of violence as a political ploy.

Shocked! Shocked!

FOX News, January 4:

Mutua had stated authoritatively that the extent of violence has been exaggerated — and indeed, statements of a larger death toll than otherwise reported is attributed to the opposition today.

He has also warned against rumor mills:

Now, however, he seems to imply he is not completely informed about the situation, but is venturing an opinion anyway.

A police source cited by the Standard says that everyone shot was a looter. Mutua suggest that many who were shot were rapists.

In other words,

But 23 civil organizations including the state-funded Kenyan National Commission of Human Rights complained Saturday that “One of the forms that violence has taken is in the extraordinary use of force by Kenya’s police force … to the extent of extrajudicial executions.” Washington-based Human Rights Watch also said opposition supporters had been victims of the crackdown by the security forces, and that protests were met with excessive police force.

Let me see if KNCHR has anything new … No, nothing on its (state-funded) Web site.

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