OIU NO FLY ZONE - Put an End US Military Training Flights Over Schools, Hospitals, and Residential Neighborhoods
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Faculty Opinion

Lazy Journalism                                               by Peter Simpson1

   One of the most shocking aspects of the Okinawa International University helicopter crash, the event itself excepted, was the willingness of the media to downplay and misrepresent events.

   Major news agencies described the direct impact of the helicopter on our main building using the word graze, most often associated with minor childhood injuries. Words like crashed into, fire and explosion, which seem more applicable were studiously avoided. Perhaps the international media can be forgiven for such cautious, and frankly, lazy journalism, yet should we tolerate it in the Japanese press? According to the Japan Times report of August 17, already four days after the crash, the disaster occurred when the university was gvirtually emptyh because of the summer break.

   I left the campus about ten minutes before the crash, after observing classes given by our teacher training students. Many were still eating lunch when the crash occurred. Over twenty office workers were in the building hit by the helicopter, many deeply traumatized

by the impact, explosion and fire. Having spoken to students and colleagues, here is my estimate of the number of others on campus: Between 70 and 100 people were in the library. Another 100 or so were working or attending special lectures nearby. Adding to this 80 other university staff, students using sports facilities, and teachers leads me to estimate a minimum of 400.    
   Virtually empty? Perhaps, compared with two or three weeks before, when thousands would have been milling around our crowded campus. So much for numbers and definitions.

    Perhaps more important is the fact that the helicopter could have crashed into any part of the surrounding city and into any of its 90,000 inhabitants, or onto residents of neighboring towns and cities which are home to hundreds of thousands more.

   Given this, isnft it safe to conclude that the immediate and indefinite cessation of all helicopter flights from the base is essential, both for the physical and mental security of the population?

*Peter Simpson lives in Ginowan and teaches English at Okinawa International University

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