Paul A. Ibbetson
The wolf who cried "boy!"
By Paul A. Ibbetson
July 17, 2009

The wolf who cried "boy!" Make that statement today and it won't take but a moment for someone to utter that a correction must be made, as you have obviously gotten the important parts of the childhood story title turned around. Of course, they would be right. The childhood story of the boy who cried wolf depicts a youth in charge of a flock of sheep that were under potential threat from the dangerous, hungry wolf that crept along the woods near the foot of a nearby mountain. The boy, fighting bouts of loneliness, repeatedly tricked the villagers into coming to his aid with false calls of "wolf!" Of course, as the story goes, when the wolf actually came, no one believed the boy's distress call and the hungry wolf had "leg of lamb" for supper. It's an exciting and educational story about honesty and it shows the ramifications of true threats that are not addressed properly.

We can attempt to apply this very useful analogy to the wolves that crouch at America's doorstep today. We can talk about who the wolves are and wonder, "Do we have the knowledge and fortitude to sound the danger call in time to save what is precious to us?" The problem is, for expanding periods of time today, the American people, the true shepherds of their own destiny, are having their attention diverted to nonsensical distractions while they are about to get bit in the backside.

We, the American people, are increasingly being faced with 24 hour news coverage by the media for events which have a news value equivalent to that of cheap plastic baubles. Walking hand in hand with quality is the issue of quantity. The amount of meaningless news feces being thrown at the public is now unending and, to prove the point, I can start almost anywhere. The Anna Nicole Smith death is a salient example. The death of the relatively unaccomplished reality star ran for weeks and was treated by the press with the same media blitz given to the JFK assassination. Like it would never end, the television talking heads pondered the obvious (to the public) as to whether Smith, who hadn't uttered a slur-less word in years, might have died from drug abuse. It could be said that to expend the energy to say, "Why should I care about this?" is to care too much. The demise of Michael Jackson, in its grotesque over-coverage and analysis, may, in its own strange way, make the Anna Nicole Smith coverage seem normal and proper. Do you see the problem?

It could be addressed that the news stories like Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson depict the false framing by the media that minimizes the true life tragedies of the lives of such people and treats them like success stories. If this were the case, it would be much more like the story of the boy who cried wolf; it would be an issue of truth telling and accuracy when a true foe, that is — the truth itself, is at stake. Unfortunately, we are currently not in that ballpark, not even in that universe. Our country is in the midst of real monumental historical challenges, such as the War on Terror, border security, escalating national debt, and an environmental "cap and trade" bill, which will be the largest tax increase in U.S. history. Issues such as these are being left on the cutting room floor so extra 30 year old footage of the Jackson Five in concert can be aired. It's not an issue of Jackson's talent, or the inventiveness of the "moon walk," or even the creativeness of the video "Thriller," which took place over two decades ago; it's the point of fact that the nation does not have time for this or other meaningless distractions. It is also a point of fact that the meaningless begets the meaningless to the point where we as a people, and as a nation, are so turned around on what is important that we live in a place where the statement "the wolf who cried boy" makes as much sense as anything else. It's a place we can't afford to be.

© Paul A. Ibbetson


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Paul A. Ibbetson

Dr. Paul A. Ibbetson is a former Chief of Police of Cherryvale, Kansas, and member of the Montgomery County Drug Task Force. Paul received his Bachelor's and Master's degree in Criminal Justice at Wichita State University, and his PhD. in sociology at Kansas State University. Paul is the author of several books and is also the radio host of the Kansas Broadcasting Association's 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 award winning, Conscience of Kansas airing across the state. Visit his website at For interviews or questions, please contact


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