Media Criticism

Fake news, plagiarism, and liberal poets universally loved by their mirrors
By Eddie Vega

There is no deadlier bullet than a wicked truth and no sharper bayonet than a subversive poem. That
may sound odd, but only because you are reading this in a U.S. publication. It is one thing to be a poet in
a country that does not know you even exist—no matter how much you publish or what and how many
awards you win. It is quite another to be a poet where poetry matters. Consider Benjamin Moloise in
South Africa, Hashem Shaabani in Iran, Warsame Shire Awale of Somalia, all executed by the state for
their verse, or Susana Chávez of Mexico, who was murdered and mutilated for her poems decrying the
murderous violence against women by drug cartels in Ciudad Juárez.

In those countries poetry gives powerful people night sweats. Which makes them want to shoot poets,
not with tropes but with copper-tipped bullets, or to cut them down not with cultivated conceits but
with poorly sharpened machetes, or to hang them with ropes that leave ligature marks on corpses.
That’s how the poets there die, not in some retirement home for professors who spent entire careers
writing about how their parents left them alone for too long with the nanny who kissed like a lapping
dog or how shafts of light are sharper in October than in August, or how a close wet shave inspired
thoughts of Ulysses sailing between the razor thin margins of Scylla and Charybdis. In our country, the
worst they face is a critical review.

Most reviews of U.S. poetry get as much notice as the poems themselves because they tend to be
efforts at selling the book rather than of offering insight about the merits of the work. In fact, some
poetry reviews have been rejected by editors because there was nothing in the review that would make
readers want to buy the book. When that is the standard of review, what readers often get are highly
placed, smarter than the average bear, Amazon-style five-star reviews by family and friends of the poet.
Not so with William Logan, the most astute, incisive, and courageous reviewer of poetry alive today. He
writes about poetry like it mattered; like it was worth your life if you got caught writing it. And if it’s
worth dying over, it had damn well be good and true.

Case in point: the recent poetry book by Jill Bialosky, How Poetry Saved My Life. It is not a book worth
dying for, and a book that despite its title is unlikely to save one.
In a recent review of the Bialosky book, Logan identified several problems, mostly poor writing and
critical thinking. But it was the bombshell discovery that Bialosky plagiarized extensively in her book that
shocked the U.S. publishing establishment—Bialosky is a senior editor at W.W. Norton, a major
publishing house known for poetry textbooks—and caught the attention of literary rubberneckers in
every market where English language newspapers are available, which is to say, everywhere.

(I won’t waste column space providing the salacious details when they are mere clicks away: Google
Logan Bialosky Plagiarism Tourniquet Review.)

Why does this particular review matter? It’s only poetry, after all? It’s because in the age of fake news
and monumental efforts to factor out the idea that there’s such a thing as Truth or that there can be
even simple commonly accepted facts, it hurts our democracy when a noted poet and editor—in fact
the sole recognized arbiter of what poetry gets published at Norton—plagiarizes like no one was
watching.

It doesn’t matter that she did it in the backwaters of corporate media. It doesn’t matter that she did it in
the safest genre for Americans to write in because of poetry’s negligible political and societal impact. It
matters because the Norton editor undermined the only thing that sustains poetry across generations:
pitiless adherence to Truth.

Unlike other countries where the practice of poetry increases the chance of a brutal and violent death,
here poets ordained by the publishing industry can complain only of stinging reviews and tarnished
reputations. The horror. The horror.

But that’s only true when there are literary critics, such as Logan, who know, really know what’s at stake
and are willing to suffer the blowback from the subjects of their criticism and those invested in them. To
attack the Queen Bee is to attack the entire hive that depends on her.

Following a NY Times story about the Logan review which focused on Bialosky’s plagiarism, 72 writers,
about half of whom had published works with Norton, responded with a letter to the Times: “72 Friends
of Literature, in Defense of the Poet Jill Bialosky.” They claimed: The Times, by giving a large platform to
a small offense, has tainted the reputation of this accomplished editor, poet and memoirist.

I read that last sentence with some amusement. No. Scratch that. I laughed so hard I had a heart attack.
I’m fine now. Thank you.

The signers—headed by Kimiko Hahn and David Baker—are ideological liberals, universally loved by
their mirrors, who in this particular instance found common ground with Donald Trump: The New York
Times is fake news.

In this instance the Times is not fake news. It reported the very real news that Bialosky had plagiarized
extensively, and if it seems a small offense, it is so only because so few people care enough about poetry
in this country to hold poets accountable when they present work as original that was crafted by
someone else or when they publish original but mendacious gibberish. But let’s be clear about the
former: there is no worse sin a writer can commit than plagiarism.

In his poem “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” William Carlos Williams famously wrote that people died
miserably every day for lack of what is found in poetry. I don’t know if Williams was right on that point.
Certainly people die every day without the consolation of poetry, or religion, or a last meal. But is there
something that poetry offers without which people would physically die and that they can’t get from
any other source? Something as critical as news about a coming Cat 5 hurricane, or a warning label on a
box found in a nuclear power plant? Williams thought so—and Bialosky premised her book on that dear
and precious idea. I don’t know. But I do know this and know it with certainty: people die every day for
lack of many things, but no one ever dies for lack of plagiarism.

Family First

Summer Fun in the Sun
By Sgt. Anthony Espino

It’s that time of year again. School is out and summer is in. The excitement of summer flows through the minds of many school students and teachers. I say teachers also because my wife, who is a teacher, reminds me quite often through the school year that she can’t wait for the summer.

Ten months a year spending seven hours a days, five days a week learning math, science, history, and taking exams can be a taxing and demanding schedule for a child. Therefore, many school students annually welcome the anticipation of summer.

What does this time of year mean for students? For some, it is their final year of high school and they’re busy preparing for their first year of college. For others, it’s just another school year gone by with the excitement of sleeping in, no homework, no teachers, and playing outside with their friends. The wonderment of youth is reborn in the bright and sunny days. Riding bikes, going to the park, and swimming at their local town pools, or going to the beach with their family and friends are some of the common activities many of these kids will be enduring this summer.

Though summer seems like a time to have fun and enjoy the warm weather, and for the most part it is, it’s also important to remind our children to be safe and careful when they’re outside enjoying these activities. We must remind them of the importance of wearing a helmet when riding bicycles or skateboarding, and to avoid riding on roadways with active traffic flow. Swimming at the town pool or at the beach is a fun activity, but also can be a dangerous one. We must remind our children not to dive into pools that are less than six feet deep. Diving in shallow water is one of the most common of pool-related accidents. When at the beach, children must be reminded of the strong water currents in the ocean and how to avoid being pulled out to sea by teaching them to swim sideways with the current, not against it. When outside playing in the hot sun, staying hydrated is essential and applying sunscreen to avoid sunburn and harmful exposure to powerful sunrays.

These are just some of the safety tips to remind children so they can safely enjoy the summer break. Also, remember summer is a time when families get to spend quality time together–whether going on a vacation together or just sitting outside enjoying a nice barbecue or cooking smores by the fire pit. Make sure you make time to share these moments and create lasting memories.
Throughout most of the year life can be hectic. Parents work many hours a day, children are busy with their schoolwork, and there are always the after school activities. For many families this can take a toll on their bonding time with their children. This is why making the time for family during the summer is very important.

As I have mentioned in past articles, building a strong family foundation and bond will help develop our children to be kind, confident, respectful, and caring individuals. Being a parent myself to three daughters can, at times, be a task to juggle their schooling, sports, and after school activities. Compounded with a shift work schedule that has me working all crazy hours, making time can be challenging, but with the help and support of my wife we are able to juggle our family life all the while stressing to our children the importance of family values. We have no greater responsibility than the safety, security, and harmonious upbringing of our children.

So savor the nice weather, longer days, and the opportunity to enjoy family time that is often lost during the fall and winter months. Clear out busy schedules and make time to reflect on what’s important in life. Enjoy activities with the one’s that mean the most to you. Take advantage of this upcoming season with an open heart and open mind. Create memories, bond, laugh, and just enjoy the summer! Have a safe and happy summer.

Sgt. Anthony Espino is a 18-year veteran police officer, assigned to the Patrol and Crime Prevention Unit. His passion is to lecture to community members, teachers, and students to promote awareness and offer tips to prevent crime and victimization.

On The Beat

BLUE INK
By Anthony Mikatarian

Tattooing has arguably been around since many centuries BC. The documented earliest signs of tattooing come from the Egyptian pyramid era. However, researchers found it has been around much earlier. Tattooing has and still plays a significant role in many different cultures around the world with its various purposes and meanings. Tattooing plays significant roles in such areas as traditions, rituals, status, religion, symbols, memorials, skill and membership. It also carries a negative stigma in such areas as marking prisoners, criminals and slaves.

Let’s examine tattooing in American culture, specifically in the law enforcement community.

In the U.S., tattooing have existed since the Native Americans but appeared to have taken off with sailors and military personnel after the American Revolution. Tattooing was used for such things as identifying purposes, honor, and to mark foreign excursions/battles. For a considerable period of time, tattoos were excluded from the mainstream, and other than the military, groups such as bikers, gang members and criminals, mostly utilized them.

In the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and even today, American society’s view of tattooing began to change. This was mainly because of our counterculture changes, such as the hippie, punk rock, rock, metal rock and hip hop/rap movements. These rebellious movements had increased the popularity and demand of tattoos, thus transitioning tattooing into an acceptable and common art form in mainstream America. Tattooing has now exploded into popularity with people from all walks of life and for all different reasons. A recent poll indicates that 30 to 40 percent of adult Americans have at least one tattoo and about 70 percent of them have more than one tattoo. The evidence indicates these percentages will grow in the recent future.

The law enforcement environment has historically been known to be conservative, but with our ever-growing societal norms, many law enforcement agencies are following suit with these changes. This includes tasteful tattoo artwork being acceptably shown on their officers. There are some administrators who are apprehensive of change, especially when it comes to the perception of his/her department. This is definitely understandable, especially if their focus is to make sure their officers are tactically safe, motivated, presentable, and most of all, approachable.

A tastefully tattooed officer can fill all these mentioned categories. It will show the community that you are down to earth, approachable, and humanized, while indicating that you possess authoritative power when needed. A tattooed officer can utilize his tattoos as a conversational piece to break the ice with civilians, especially ones that display or possess tattoos of their own. As for motivation, many officers utilize tattoos as story books for such things as pride for their profession, memorializing experiences, religion or for honoring family. This brings pride and comfort, as well as motivation for survival, for those of us who have to put a bulletproof vest on every day.

Visible tattoo artwork or any other body enhancements must be tasteful and appropriately placed, as well as acceptable to your department’s mission. The tattoo culture in law enforcement is undoubtedly becoming a more accepted practice in expressing ourselves in a positive way in this extraordinary profession we are all called to do. God Bless and stay safe.

Anthony Mikatarian has been a police officer for over 17 years. He is currently assigned to patrol in a northern NJ municipality. He earned a Bachelor’s degree from Johnson & Wales University, Providence, R.I., and another degree in mortuary science from the American Academy McAllister Institute in New York City.

Family First

Proud Daughter of a Police Officer
By Mia Espino

If there’s one thing that I’ll never stop being proud of, it’s that I am the daughter of a Police Officer. I will always feel forever protected in the arms of my father and that is something that I cherish very much. Usually after coming home from a long and stressful day at school, I complete my homework and eat dinner. However, tonight I had to go somewhere and did not get back home until about 8:30pm to 9:00pm. At that point, I still needed to shower and get ready for the next day. My dad and I finally got to talk on the phone but not for long (he was dispatched to a call). That was when multiple feelings rushed to me at once.

My heart was beating rapidly and my mind went straight to negative thoughts. Why did I have those thoughts? Why was I feeling scared? After a few minutes of stressing out, it hit me.

Police Officers all over the country are putting their lives on the line everyday to protect their communities from bad people, but they are being portrayed as the bad guys. No thanks to the media who portray Police Officers as being over-aggressive and at times racists, while performing their duties. Yet, these people have no idea how hard it is for our men and women in blue to perform their duties.

Again, being the daughter of a Police Officer, I get to see first-hand the sacrifices my father makes to protect the community he serves. He works a shift schedule where his work schedule changes weekly: 12am to 8am, then 4pm to 12am, then 8am to 4pm. Sometimes my father is very tired, but he still makes time for me and my 2 sisters.

He comes to our sporting and school events, coached our recreation teams, and never complained or made us feel like it was a chore for him. There were times I would hear my dad talking to my mom about his day and at times, I would feel scared and sad from the stories.

My dad has an important job which I feel many people take for granted. He has saved children from abusive parents; arrested men for assaulting their wives; and saved people from life threatening injuries, such as car accidents. The list goes on and on with the many services he provides as a law enforcement officer.

It is the worst feeling in the world to know your dad might not be coming home the next morning or that he could easily get hurt while protecting the people in his community. I just can’t seem to understand why so many people dislike police officers and try to hurt them. Unfortunately, there are hate groups that protest against the police, and many of our politicians agree with these groups making it more difficult for our brave police officers to do their jobs. Everyday I worry not just for my dad but for all police officers who put themselves in the line of danger to protect the communities they took an oath to serve and protect.

Although so much negativity has been broadcasted by the media against our police officers, my father still loves his job and continues to perform his duties with dignity, respect, and professionalism. I am very proud of his service, and his devotion and love to my sisters and my mom. So the next time you want to judge anyone in law enforcement, think about the sacrifices they make; the problems they solve for other people; and the dangers they encounter, all while providing these services with bravery and professionalism

Mia Espino is the teenage daughter of NJ Blue Now writer Sgt. Anthony Espino. At a young age her writing talent is impressive. NJ Blue Now thanks Mia for writing such a thoughtful and heartfelt article. Mia is a sophmore in high school where she plays Volleyball and is a member of the Bowling team. In her free time she volunteers as an assistant coach for girls recreation basketball. She has a passion for physical fitness and healthy eating, where she displays her healthy lifestyle routines and meals that she prepares on her blog on instagram and facebook.

Tactical Mindset

A Tactical Consideration: Applying the Principles 
of the L-Shaped Ambush
By Keith Bott

Law enforcement agencies share many commonalities with America’s military. For one, both have a core mission that attempts to address unwanted behavior perpetrated against the government and its citizens. In addition, most American police departments closely mirror military units in terms of command structure, rank system, and organizational hierarchy. The New Jersey State Police exemplifies these links in many ways because the organization’s first superintendent, Herbert Norman Schwarzkopf Sr., was a retired Army officer who relied heavily on his military experience to shape the agency after it was established during the 1920s. Police departments also use tactics, techniques and procedures that were first developed by the Armed Forces. In fact, most Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) units have many of the same capabilities as an Army or Marine Corps light infantry squad. Therefore, it is quite common for law enforcement agencies to adopt procedures that were originally developed for military use.

The L-shaped ambush provides one example of a military technique that can be adapted to benefit police officers on patrol. The L-shaped ambush is a simple but extremely effective type of offensive operation used by infantry units against an enemy formation that is either moving or temporarily halted. This type of ambush is employed along a road or trail that bends sharply to form an L-shape, hence the name. Two maneuver units are positioned at separate locations along the short and long legs of the L-shape so enemy forces receive small arms fire from both the front and side after the ambush begins (see Figure 1). The only way to escape a well-established L-shaped ambush is to run directly into small arms and machine gun fire and get behind the ambushers. When properly employed, the L-shaped ambush can completely destroy an entire enemy formation within a few minutes.

Police officers can use the basic idea behind the L-shaped ambush to achieve a tactical advantage in a number of different situations. During a motor vehicle stop, for example, two officers can approach the suspect vehicle in an L-shaped formation (see Figure 2) to achieve several distinct advantages:

1) Suspects have to content with fire from the flank and rear in deadly force situations.

2) Officers can easily establish designated sectors of fire to avoid fratricide.

3) The #2 officer may be able to use roadside objects, such as a large tree or retaining wall, for cover and concealment.

4) Officers are able to see more of the suspect vehicle because they are looking at it from two different angles.

5) A routine motor vehicle stop can seamlessly transition into a felony, stop without officers having to reposition or loose security.

6) If more officers arrive on scene, they can easily position themselves on either leg of the L-shape. This allows the additional officers to help the situation and avoid getting in the way or making things more dangerous.

The basic principle of forming an L-shape can be applied to almost any other situation where officers are dealing with a suspect or suspects, and it is pretty simple to implement.

The L-shape technique is one way to be tactically sound but not the only way; officers should consider the drawbacks of using this technique. For example, shooting in two different directions at the same time could increase the risk to innocent bystanders, while the required distance between officers could degrade their ability to communicate with one another. Hopefully, police officers can add the L-shape technique to their bag of tactical options and apply when appropriate. As always, the ultimate goal of every shift is to go home safe; using the principles of the L-shape ambush can help officers do just that.

Keith H. Bott is currently a municipal police officer in Bergen County, NJ. Prior to entering law enforcement, he served seven years in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer. His military awards include the Ranger Tab, Parachutist Badge, Combat Infantryman Badge, and Bronze Star. Keith holds a B.A. in Government from Georgetown University and an M.A. in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.