Chronicle readers take apart the Taser story

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Predictably, the Chronicle editorial board wrings its hands over yesterday’s Taser story. As I said yesterday, I am amazed at the seeming lack of critical thinking skills in “professional” journalists, and the Chronicle‘s editorial hits that point home. Here’s the last paragraph:

Beyond the use of Tasers, the police and the public might ask what elements of police tactics and Houstonians’ behavior cause officers to come so disproportionately into contact with minorities — contact that is often involuntary and frequently hostile.

Are they serious? As Chris Baker continually asks, why don’t people follow police commands? How many of these incidents could have been prevented if there was respect for law enforcement? The Chronicle sure doesn’t help.

In an interesting turn, today there are four letters to the editor that take the Chronicle to task for Roma Khanna’s story. I’m posting highlights:

Is the Chronicle that desperate to sell papers that it has to continually play the race card? The Houston news media seems to really love to hate cops (those who daily risk their lives to protect us all — even the members of the media).

And, by the way, since Anglos technically became a minority in Houston a few years ago, shouldn’t they be classified as a minority in the chart? And if you are going to write about what race is getting shot with Tasers most often, why not also show which racial group is committing the most crimes?

That would be too politically incorrect, wouldn’t it? The media should quit trying to divide us up by race.


The city’s minorities are upset about the use of Tasers and want them forbidden. Do they want us to go back to using bullets, instead?


Forty percent of the Houston Police Department is made up of people of color and most of these officers are in patrol units.

That means there’s close to a 50-percent chance that the officers using these Tasers are themselves minorities. That information might deflate the alleged racial motives implied in this article.

No police profile yet requires disclosing the race of the officer involved, but that’s certainly a factor when putting statistics like the article’s 87 percent into full context.


The Chronicle used faulty math analysis in its Taser article. It is ridiculous to compare the percentage of Taser hits by race with the population percentages by race. What it should have looked into is the population percentages by age and race.

The Houston Independent School District percentages are 53 percent Hispanic, 38 percent black and only 9 percent white. Of those who are more than 65 years old, I believe more than 80 percent are white. If we compare the percentages of Taser hits against the percentages of people who are 15 to 30 years old — which I bet accounts for almost all of the total — the racial breakdown of the Taser hits would match the population much more closely.

Houston is beyond ready for another paper to move in and challenge the Chronicle.

UPDATE: I see that Laura Ingraham’s website has a link to Khanna’s Taser story. Perhaps she’ll be discussing it during today’s show.

UPDATE 2: Laurence Simon has, what I am sure is, a Taser exclusive. =)

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Anne Linehan is a co-founder of blogHOUSTON.