In a series of posts (including this one), I pointed out the rather lousy job the media outlets have done in telling the story.
This news release just compounds that effect.
There's one part that's actually an improvement. This story acknowledges that there was a fight ("responsible for starting the fight"), at least at first.
WAUWATOSA- police arrested a man in connection with a brawl at a George Webb restaurant in September. Wauwatosa
Police believe the 26-year-old Milwaukee man is responsible for starting the fight.
It all started when patrons were discussing the gay marriage amendment on November's ballot.
The man got upset and started throwing chairs, ketchup bottles and anything else he could get his hands on.
The latter portion makes the other participants out merely as victims, even though at least one of the supposed victims threw a chair about 10 feet through the air at the suspect.
I wrote the television station that received the surveillance tape evidence, asking for an explanation of the way they edited the tape for its on-air presentation. I received a couple of courteous replies that contained no useful information.
The suspect did not go from the discussion to throwing things directly, as implied by the above account. Instead, he was sitting eating his meal when one of the victims approached him in his seat. Though the video had sound, I haven't been able to make out what was said at that point (that's one of the things I asked the TV news editors about--why no transcript?
I just found a version of the story from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. More distortion.
Wauwatosa police were called to the George Webb Restaurant at 6108 W. Blue Mound Road early Sunday on a report of a fight over homosexuality and Wisconsin's upcoming referendum on gay marriage.... obtained through Lexis Nexis.
According to witnesses, three friends - a lesbian, a gay man and a transgendered man - were discussing the marriage referendum with patrons nearby when others joined in. As the topic turned to homosexuality and became more heated, they said, one man left his seat in the corner of the diner and began arguing with the three before punching the lesbian and transgendered man, and then threatening to shoot up the restaurant.
They said the attacker left the restaurant, then came back - though without a gun - and started throwing glass ketchup and sugar containers.
(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Sept 29, 2006, "Hate charge sought in diner fracas;
Man punched lesbian and transgendered man involved in discussion of marriage referendum" by Annysa Johnson)
The part about the man leaving "his seat in the corner of the diner ... before punching the lesbian and transgendered man" is very misleading.
The suspect apparently left his original seat to join the three "victims" at the restaurant counter area. He is seated there when Jorryn, the lesbian, leaves her seat in order to confront the suspect. She comes within easy arm's reach of the suspect, and he pushes her backward.
In my judgment, she takes a dive when she falls backward. It doesn't look to me as though the push should have sent her to the ground unless she were drunk (which is possible, I suppose).
That's not a punch by any stretch of the imagination. I should mention that the suspect does rise from his seat as he pushes Jorryn. He stands his ground as he is confronted by all three of the victims, who have now left their seats to confront the suspect (one remains in the background, certainly).
It is at this point that the suspect delivers a punch at the other "victim" but the person is not completely in the picture at that point, so it's hard to say what happened, exactly. The film clips I've seen are choppy enough that it's even possible that the supposed victim threw the first punch.
Again, the video clips had sound, so using the whole of the evidence should give a fairly clear picture of what happened--but the press in Wisconsin have done an incredibly poor job of giving people an accurate picture of what happened.
Using the taped evidence, it should at least be possible to provide a version that doesn't contain obvious distortions.