June 24, 2024

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Star Cites “Liberal” Bumper Stickers for Road Rage Incident, Ignores Bird Flip

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Declaring the president illegitimate and encouraging people to resist might play in Westport, but in the Ozarks it rather defeats the purpose of the inevitable “coexist” bumper sticker.

“A man in the Ozarks has been charged after he allegedly pointed his pistol at a woman because she had Democratic bumper stickers on her car,” writes Max Londberg in the opening sentence of his misleading Kansas City Star article.

The headline makes the same point: “‘Stupid’ liberal bumper stickers triggered Ozarks man, so he flashed a gun, police say.” Not surprisingly, there is more to the story. The UK Daily Mail got to the heart of it with its subhead, “[Burns] told police he reached for his gun because he was angry at Umphenour for flipping him off.”

For starters, the bumper stickers on Laura Umphenour’s car go beyond being merely “liberal” or “Democratic.” Some of them are “far left,” a phrase the Star cannot bring itself to utter, and gratuitously provocative. One reads, “Not my president or yours either.” Another reads, “Resist.” Declaring the president illegitimate and encouraging people to resist democratic order might be a nifty way to signal your virtue in Westport, but in the Ozarks it rather defeats the purpose of Umphenour’s inevitable “coexist” bumper sticker.

Apparently, the bumper stickers made Edward Burns of Ozark, Missouri, feel uncomfortable. He pulled alongside Umphenour’s car and “flashed an ‘L’ sign with his hand.” Although the Star does not specify what the “L” sign means, it is generally understood to suggest that the person at whom the sign is flashed is a “loser.” Given the results of the November election, Burns may have meant it literally.

Umphenour took umbrage. Notes Londberg, “Umphenour then flipped him off.” In the Ozarks, this would classify as a tactical error. Prompted not by the bumper stickers but by Umphenour’s vulgar gesture, Burns pulled out a handgun and pointed it at her. “I made a bad choice,” Burns later told police, and the Sentinel heartily agrees. Bad turned worse when a panicked Umphenour lost control of her car, bumped Burns’s vehicle and then crashed into a guardrail. She suffered minor injuries as did her car.

Before the election and after there have been scores of incidents, perhaps hundreds, in which Trump supporters have been beaten by those choosing to “resist” the presidency in undemocratic ways. If we are to “coexist,” the media might want to start noticing those too.

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