Friday, December 23, 2011

Kitchen Table Talk: Aisha Khan

Last Friday, 19 year old Aisha Khan of Olathe was reported missing. The student and newlywed left a frantic voice mail message and then was not seen since. Her books and cell phone were found sitting on a table at the KU Edwards campus. No further clues other than a witness report of seeing her walking alone near the campus were discovered. This past Wednesday evening, she reported in to law enforcement and she was deemed safe. Since then, the story, which was on blast in much of the media, including national outlets, has been toned down considerably.
It is all the talk because we all want to know all the details: why? Was she threatened by someone in her family? Did she have a fight with her husband? Did she even want to be married? There is much talk of the cultural clash between those who live family life and love in a very traditional Muslim way and the way of the open American society where love and marriage are very much based on choice. In the back of many minds is the history of "honor killings" where women are killed for being the victims of men--of men who rape and commit adultery.
People are frustrated by claims of "missing" that turn out to be cover ups for something else, or not missing at all. The original call in this case came from KU Edwards campus security. Did the rent-a-cops overreact? Was it always just some crazy family drama that would have smoothed out? Who knows--for all we know the attention may have saved Khan's life. But we will never know, because the embarrassed family will never allow the rest of the story to see the light of public day.
But we are all frustrated by crimes reported that never really occurred. And each one of these non-events creates a skepticism that bleeds out every time we hear a crime story. In fact, when the report of a car jacking/rape case that started at Ward Parkway Mall and ended at 18th and Vine came out, and more info did not immediately come forth about suspects, the lost car and so on, I started to become skeptical. Is that really the story, or is it something else?
News media does us no favors by jumping on every unusual story of crime so quickly and putting it on blast. Sometimes it is not everything it seems. Too much of this, and it will become the boy who cries wolf. And the delay caused by doubt, cynicism and skepticism could eventually cost something more than embarrassment. It could cost life and/or property.

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