Postcard from Philadelphia

Last week, things got out of hand when a cop here in my hometown made an apprehension after a high speed chase. The cop hit a man repeatedly on the ground, and even took a swing at him while he was cuffed. The local NBC affiliate had a chopper in the sky and they caught it all on video. By mid-week, the film footage was given such national prominence that it led the Today Show. But by week’s end, the story was out of rotation everywhere. What happened to its legs? I think I know.

The cop turned out to be black, and the beating victim white. Apparently that doesn’t sell in TV land, where the plotline needs to be 'authoritative white cop bashing black man'. How telling. It reinforces my belief that all too often, these cases – think Rodney King – are spun into something they hardly resemble to suit political objectives.

In this instance, it's looking like just another case of a guy with a rap sheet, suspected of doing more bad things, evading police chase, pissing off a cop, getting mouthy - maybe even spitting in the cop’s face, and getting whacked for it. Not because of skin color, but simply because the individual charged with upholding the law ‘lost it’ after chasing a bad guy. Which doesn’t make it right.

But, it’s worth noting that most often, these cases are about adrenalin and testosterone. Not race.