Tag Archives: Show-Me state

Someone Else at Mizzou Should Resign or Be Fired ASAP

One day after the resignations of Timothy M. Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri System, and R. Bowen Loftin, chancellor of the system’s flagship campus in Columbia, I realized one more academic affiliated with the state’s largest university should resign or be fired immediately. Her name is Dr. Melissa Click.

An assistant professor of mass media who earned her doctorate at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 2009, Dr. Click is living out her “15 minutes of fame” in large part thanks to the video (above).

Throughout most of the video’s six and one-half minutes, Dr. Click doesn’t appear in the frame, but her voice can be heard clearly over others in the vicinity of Tim Tai, a Mizzou student and freelance journalist working for ESPN. Repeatedly, Dr. Click demands Tai leave the area student protesters (a.k.a., “Concerned Students 1950”) had designated as a so-called “safe zone” for the purpose of waging protests, sans journalists, against alleged racial inequalities on campus.

Only during the final 20 seconds of the video does Dr. Click finally appear, seeming almost apoplectic. A bespectacled redhead dressed in black, she again demands Tai leave the area. When he refuses, she turns away from him and shouts toward a crowd of students a short distance away: “Hey, who wants to help me get this reporter out of here. I need some muscle over here.”

Dr. Melissa Click

Dr. Melissa Click

Clearly, the actions of Dr. Click show she has failed to “click” — pun intended — with important elements of our freedom, such as the First Amendment of the Constitution. Likewise, this academic loose cannon’s actions — aimed at preventing a journalist from doing his job — reflect poorly upon the UM School of Journalism — one of the top journalism schools in the country, by the way — where she is listed as a faculty member. See update below!

As a result, I hope she takes my advice and resigns before returning to Amherst where, perhaps, she can work on furthering her education. According to her curriculum vitae on this page, her first doctoral dissertation was titled, “It’s ‘a good thing’: The commodification of femininity, affluence and whiteness in the Martha Stewart phenomenon.”

I will not, however, hold my breath in anticipation of either her resignation or firing, because I doubt either will happen as “higher education” seems an oxymoron at Mizzou (a.k.a., “Ferguson West”).

UPDATE 11/10/2015 at 2:22 p.m. Central: It appears as if the folks at Mizzou might be listening to me. Sort of. According to a new article in the Columbia Missourian, Missouri School of Journalism faculty were voting today to revoke a courtesy appointment for Dr. Click that allows her to serve on the graduate committees of students from the School of Journalism while she teaches mass media in the Department of Communications, part of MU’s College of Arts & Science. Kind of confusing, but it’s a start. The fact she’s not a faculty member of the J-School restores my confidence in that school just a tiny bit.

UPDATE 11/11/2015 at 4:54 p.m. Central: Dr. Click resigned her “courtesy appointment” today and apologized. Sort. of. Details. In other news, today was Transgender Remembrance Day at Mizzou.

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‘SUDDEN JIHAD’ SYNDROME? Missouri Bus Station Murder Shares Much in Common with Boston Marathon Bombing

The Boston Marathon Bombing trial garnered a lot of media attention in recent days, in part, because the men suspected of committing the attack were Muslims and the attack itself bore earmarks of Islamic terrorism.  Conversely, a deadly shooting that took place in Missouri almost four years ago involved a Muslim man as the alleged shooter but has received little news coverage beyond the Show-Me State.

Mohamed H. Dawod

Mohamed H. Dawod

Less than 48 hours before the 10th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, witnesses say then-25-year-old Mohamed H. Dawod shot to death Justin Hall, 32, of Mt. Vernon, Ohio, at a Greyhound bus station in Springfield, Mo. Soon after the shooting, Dawod found himself facing charges of first-degree murder and armed criminal action.

Almost two years of hearings and mental health assessments followed, and Dawod was committed to a mental institution to face mental evaluations every six months until he is deemed competent to stand trial or permanently committed.

Should Dawod face trial instead of remaining in a mental institution?

Some might claim Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the 19-year-old Boston Marathon bomber, was crazy when he participated in the plot that killed three spectators and wounded more than 260 others at the site of the famous footrace. Still, he was found guilty of multiple crimes, including murder, for his actions in concert with his 26-year-old brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who died in a shootout with police hours after the bombing.

Witnesses reported Dawod and his alleged victim were passengers on a bus traveling from Amarillo, Texas, but did not to know each other, and were preparing to board the bus for the last leg of the journey to St. Louis when the shooting took place.

Soon after the shooting took place, police officials in Missouri’s third-largest city were quick to label the incident involving the Glendale, Ariz., native as “random,” according to a Sept. 9, 2011, report in the Springfield News-Leader.

According to a local television report the same day, those same police officials said that, because of a language barrier, they had only learned Dawod’s name and had asked the FBI to help them with the investigation.  Also in that report was this:

Ten separate witnesses say they did not notice the men fighting or arguing before the shooting.  One passenger said she watched the suspect wander around the terminal until the call to line up to re-board the bus.  “She then observed the suspect remove a silver and black handgun from a back pack he was carrying,” the officer wrote.  “The suspect then pointed the handgun upward while saying something.  The witness could not understand what the suspect said and didn’t know if he was speaking English.”  No matter what was said the witness said Hall didn’t react or turn around.  Shortly after the witness says Dawod shot him from a few feet away.

Soon after the shooting, I wondered aloud whether the words Dawod reportedly shouted as he pointed his gun in the air could have been “Alluh Akbar,” the cry that’s been heard coming from the mouths of so many Islamic extremists moments before they suffer from so-called “sudden jihad syndrome.”  Unable to answer that question with certainty, I pointed readers to a same-day report in the Springfield News-Leader that contained more insight about the supposed “language barrier.”

Click image above to read charges filed against Mohamed H. Dawod in Greene County, Mo.

Click image above to read charges filed against Mohamed H. Dawod in Greene County, Mo.

Based largely on interviews with three people who were at the scene of the shooting, the article noted two observations I had made early on in my coverage of the case — that is, the shooter tried to fire again but could not because his gun jammed and witnesses believed the shooter intended to shoot several people.  In addition, however, it noted that Patrick Beeman, Hall’s traveling companion, said Dawod asked police a question in English after he was arrested:  “He said, ‘if I quit shooting at people, can I get back on the bus?’”  In other words, he does speak English!

Because I haven’t seen any news coverage of the Dawod case since the report of Dawod being committed, I sent email messages to two people — Dawod’s defense attorney, Stuart Paul Huffman, and Greene County, Mo., Prosecutor Dan Patterson — this morning. In my message, I requested “as much detail as possible” about Dawod’s status.

As soon as I hear back from these men, I will provide an update in this space. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 5/15/2015 at 1:25 p.m. Central:  Dawod has been declared incompetent to proceed with trial, according to Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson as reported in this article published Thursday. The next step? A probate court proceeding will take place and Keith Schafer, director of the Missouri Department of Mental Health, will decide whether to move forward with either commitment or guardianship proceedings.

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Journalists Jump to Conclusions Re: Tom Schweich’s Death

Unlike so many who work as journalists, I refuse to label two recent and much-publicized deaths in the Show-Me State as suicides until those in charge of investigating those deaths make such declarations public.

Thomas A. "Tom" Schweich and Robert "Spence" Jackson

During the past four days, I’ve written and published three articles related to the tragic deaths of Tom Schweich, 54, a second-term Missouri state auditor and declared Republican candidate for governor Feb. 26, and his official spokesperson, Robert “Spence” Jackson, 44, only 30 days later. In the most recent article, I revealed two facts other media outlets have, thusfar, failed to share with their audiences.

First, I shared a statement received via email Monday from Dr. Mary E. Case, St. Louis County’s chief medical examiner. Among other things, she explained that the autopsy, including complete toxicology testing, is complete. She did not, however, say that the death had been ruled a suicide.

Second, I shared a statement received from Clayton (Mo.) Police Chief Kevin Murphy. In an email message about the investigation into Schweich’s death Monday, he wrote, “Currently, the investigation is not closed.” As was the case with Dr. Case, Chief Murphy did not say that the death had been ruled a suicide.

Many in the local, state and national news media, however, have been quick to gloss over the fact no one in any official capacity to make such a statement has said definitively that Schweich committed suicide. [FYI: I have yet to look into the matter of whether any such official statement has been issued regarding Jackson’s death.]

Click on image above to link to article.

Click on image above to link to article.

The most recent in-state example appeared in the Sedalia Democrat April 3. One didn’t have to read beyond the headline of a column by Bob Satnan to see that the editors at the central Missouri newspaper were comfortable publishing a statement not backed up by anyone authorized to confirm it:  Lessons to be learned from 2 suicides.

Click on image above to link to article.

Click on image above to link to article.

Virginia Young of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch waited until the seventh paragraph of her April 1 Political Fix column, but she still used the “S” word without its use substantiated by anyone in an official capacity.

Media outlets outside of the state have done the same thing.

The “S” word appeared in the headline and first paragraph of an April Fools Day piece, Two Suicides Rock Missouri Politics, in The Daily Beast. Notably, the piece was written by Missouri’s own Eli Yokely. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he should have known better than to use the term without official confirmation.

The “S” word also appeared in the subhead of Luke Brinker‘s March 30 piece in Salon and in the first paragraph of Stacy Hatton‘s March 24 piece in The Huffington Post.

Perhaps things have changed inside journalism school classrooms during the 30-plus years since I received my degree in the subject. I do know, however, that I would have received a failing grade had I used the word, suicide, without verifying it by way of an official report and attributing that verification to the individual or agency that provided it. Until such verification is provided by someone authorized to offer it, I will use terms such as alleged, apparent, possible and suspect in front of the the word, suicide.

Stay tuned for more updates. To see previous articles on this topic, click here.

For links to other articles of interest as well as photos and commentary, join me on Facebook and Twitter.  Please show your support by buying my books and encouraging your friends and loved ones to do the same.  To learn how to order signed copies, click here. Thanks!

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