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Media Parses Oklahoma Beheading

Media Parses Oklahoma Beheading

In Moore, Okla., a recent convert to Islam who'd been fired from his job decided to follow the example of some recently prominent Islamists and beheaded one of his coworkers with a 10-inch butcher knife.

He turned the still-dripping knife on another woman who worked at Vaughn Foods, and was well on the way to stabbing her to death when he was fired on with a rifle by Mark Vaughn, chief operating officer of the company. The introduction of bullets to the affair put an end to the attack.

Now, it would be easy enough just to chalk this up as an important illustration of an armed citizen in action, but that's too predictable. I want to talk about the way Vaughn was universally characterized in press reports: a "reserve deputy sheriff."

I think we can agree that if the press speaks of police reservists at all, it characterizes them as overweight, overaged doughnut-eating cop wannabes in the mold of Barney Fife. That caricature is spot-on in some communities, especially in places where a reserve police commission helps the politically connected get around restrictive local gun laws.

Ironically, I've known quite a few newspaper and TV photographers over the years who find having a reserve commission convenient for getting past police lines to capture good footage and for carrying a pistol to protect expensive equipment in bad neighborhoods. There are a remarkable number of NRA members among TV cameramen.

According to the local sheriff, Vaughn had been a reserve deputy for four years, had completed a variety of training courses and was a member of the department's tactical team. He appears to have been well-prepared for what he had to do, and we are lucky there are those like him who choose to serve their communities in that way.

Ultimately though, a police reservist, like a National Guardsman or military reservist, is a civilian, not a full-time government employee. But saying that a crazed would-be jihadist was intercepted on his way to the 72 virgins by a civilian wouldn't fit the required narrative, now would it?

It will be fun to watch the media cling to the heroic Vaughn's status as an agent of government, as they also will cling to the notion that the killer's religious affiliation is of no more interest than it would be if he were Episcopalian.

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