For many citizens of Raleigh, the biggest complaint at the gas station is the price of gas. But, just as the price of gas rose to $4.00 per gallon in recent months, another eyesore was placed at your local market, The Slammer. Price? $1.00. Value? Just a penny more than worthless. Good Comedy or Bad Karma? You make the decision.
The Slammer is, in the company’s own words, “an informative and entertaining weekly newspaper that focuses on local crime in a straightforward, humorous and revealing manner.” While this is the rag’s intention, the outcome is a bit less graceful than publications such as The Onion, The Smoking Gun and local independent papers which feature “dumbest criminal” sections. Many times these columns are based on true stories, but names are changed and details become hyperbolic in nature to exaggerate the humorous nature of the crime. One section of The Slammer, entitled Wanted, does exactly this, exaggerating stories of criminals for the price of humor. Sadly, this can’t be said for the rest of the newspaper, which blatantly exposes mugshots of Raleigh criminals, hoping for a laugh or two….. All of these criminals have been arrested in the previous week and have not been found guilty of the crime that has plastered them onto the front page of this source.
Sure The Slammer states on their website that “once you were arrested, you became a statistic. As a public record, news organizations have the right to publish your arrest information. We hope you weren’t wrongly accused.” Does this make it kosher? When does a right to expose equal the right to humiliate? Although humiliation and humor are similar in phonics, their definitions are fundamentally different. And, according to this this Craigslist posting - “The Slammer offers the best ROI and dollar for dollar advertising investment available anywhere in the Charlotte Metropolitan area. We’ll guarantee it!” Let’s see, in this week’s issue there is a couple of “Get Debt Free” ads, a Real Estate ad, two bail bonds ads, an ad for the buying of Junk Vehicles for minimum $150 cash, and one for a Criminal Record Web Search engine. Quality advertising with quality distribution?
The cover of The Slammer comes off as an advertisement poster for Jerry Springer, which was labeled, by many, the lowest form of entertainment possible. Maybe the reality show overindulgence that has graced televisions in the past 10-20 years has started to trickle down into even lower forms of “entertainment”. Seeing this in gas stations makes Raleigh seem like a town without grace, a town without style. We can map crime all we want to create awareness and read about daily crime in the local bigwig newspapers, but griding mugshots throughout a 30 page publication is not progressing Raleigh’s culture one bit. Money is spent weekly on this publication and for what? Humor? Laughing at someone’s misfortunes is disgraceful and only continues to segregate society. So, instead of spending a buck on The Slammer, give it to someone who needs it. Maybe it’ll keep them from ending up on the cover.
I’ll end with one more quote from The Slammer. For many this may seem like good ‘ole comedy, for others it could stir up thoughts of bad karma….
“We agree that crime is a very serious problem in our community. The Slammer has every intention to help reduce crime, locate missing persons, bring fugitives to justice and provide information that assists authorities in making our communities safter. If you don’t like to laugh, please just skip over the funny parts “
Some may enjoy laughing at a guy who is wanted for killing a child. Personally, I don’t. I love to laugh, I’m even guilty of laughing at my own jokes, but is this humor or humiliation?.....you be the judge.