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Olson: Reflections on a cold, dangerous week

Published: Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014 5:30 a.m. CDT

This has been an extraordinarily busy – and sometimes dangerous – week in DeKalb County.

The week began with subzero temperatures and gusting winds leading to closures of local schools and public buildings. The rugrats didn’t go back to school until Wednesday and after this winter, they should be wrapping up the school year around the Fourth of July.

Meanwhile, we’re scheduled to get socked with more snow this weekend, the city of DeKalb is trying its best to conserve salt for fear they’ll run out of it, the plow drivers have probably picked up all the extra work they ever wanted, and the giant two-stage snow-throwing machine the guy down the block bought doesn’t look like such a bad investment any more.

It has been a long winter of frozen pipes, wind chill warnings, numb fingers and hoping … your … car … will … start.

But it could be worse: The term “Chiberia” is creative. But the weather in actual Siberia is way worse than anything we’ve seen this winter.

Weather in the Russian city of Yakutsk (population 270,000) this week included high temperatures in the minus 40s, with lows dipping to minus 60. Now that’s cold.

And at least we can continue to function when we get an inch of snow around here. The news accounts from Atlanta and Birmingham, Ala., this week described a disaster caused by what most of us would consider only a minor inconvenience.

For that, thanks to the hard-working people putting in overtime to plow and salt our streets.

Tragedy: Our reporters and editors did their best this week to tell the story about the incident Tuesday on Quail Run in DeKalb, in which police shot a man to death.

As the Illinois State Police investigation continues, more details may emerge. Officers who were on the scene are to be interviewed next week, after which time police might be able to speak more openly about what they encountered.

Friends of the man who was shot, Cameron D. Lupton, 28, of Malta, say he was an Army veteran who had served in Afghanistan and been discharged honorably after being diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, a mental illness characterized by absurd or suspicious ideas and beliefs, particularly delusions of persecution.

Lupton also had said almost two weeks ago that he had stopped taking medication because it made him feel sick.

The police account states that officers from DeKalb and Northern Illinois University responded to the scene and found Lupton attacking his father Carl Lupton and stepmother Charlene Lupton with a knife in their home.  

Our hearts go out to the family – no doubt this is an Earth-shattering tragedy and we wish them peace.

The local newspaper can’t ignore the story, however. To do so would be doing a disservice to our community. Our society values human life, and when there is an incident in which life is lost, the circumstances that led to the loss of life deserve careful, public examination. There are many sides to every story, and we do our best to find and present them to the public.

That is what journalists are counted upon to do, even when the subject matter is not pleasant.

Doing their duty: The name of the DeKalb police officer who pulled the trigger and killed Cameron Lupton has not been made public. That officer and two others who were on the scene are on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated.

Hopefully, those officers will get whatever support they need.

The police who responded to the scene this week were no doubt affected as well. Presuming that the police account of events as related by DeKalb police Chief Eugene Lowery is accurate – and it is the only account we have to go on – the officer who fired acted to save people’s lives Tuesday.

Most police officers do not want to shoot anyone in the line of duty. Most situations where a police officer kills someone happen as this one apparently did, up-close and personal, with a split-second decision made to use deadly force.

Even if it’s justified, that decision puts the cop in the position of having to defend his or her actions to the legal system. And taking a person’s life, even if it’s found to be justified, can have repercussions for the shooter’s well-being.

The burden of the option to use deadly force is one that police agree to shoulder when they take their oath. Others in Illinois are now free to shoulder the same burden by carrying concealed firearms.

It is a responsibility that should never be taken lightly. There are repercussions when people are killed in a civil society that should not be underestimated.

Super Saturday?: The NFL now has most of America’s attention for the Super Bowl. It’s time they moved it from Sunday to Saturday evening.

Now that holding Super Bowl events and parties and get-togethers have become such an ingrained part of the culture, the NFL ought to schedule the game for the middle of the weekend, not the end. They’ve added a week to the pregame hype already, they can afford to shorten it by a day so that people can sleep in the day after the game.

Change in a lifetime: When the Bears won Super Bowl XX in New Orleans, I was 8 years old and Up With People performed the halftime show.

This year’s Super Bowl will be played outdoors in New Jersey, my daughter will be 8 years old and Bruno Mars will perform at halftime. No doubt his hit song “Locked Out of Heaven” will be prominently featured, along with the lyric “your sex takes me to paradise” repeated good and loud. Hopefully, there will be no “wardrobe malfunctions” this year.

Mars is talented, and he writes catchy songs. But some pop lyrics are why products like Kidz Bop, with the sanitized, kid-friendly lyrics, are popular today. Parents don’t want to hear their grade-school-aged kids singing lyrics about getting blackout drunk in the club or being taken to sexy paradise. It’s uncomfortable, or as they say in schools today “inappropriate.”

But those are the themes thrown in your face more and more on radio, TV, and forget about the Internet.

I’m no prude and don’t suggest that everything should be appropriate for children. But it seems as though you used to have to look a little harder for “adult” entertainment. There’s quite a difference between prime time TV shows such as “Full House” and “The Cosby Show” and today’s network primetime standbys like “Two and a Half Men” or “The Big Bang Theory.”

Another example of how things change, and why I watch more of Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel than I ever imagined I would again.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841 ext. 2257, email eolson@shawmedia.com, or follow him @DC_Editor.

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