Thursday, October 05, 2006


i can't turn anywhere without hearing something about the tragedy that has happened in pennsylvania with those amish schoolgirls. i suppose i understand why this is such a big news story. either the mass popular media believes that we are a country of sick, depraved people... or we actually are.

i say this because i think that the story is huge because it involves a compelling combination of some of the worst, most offensive acts that could occur all at once. in this one tragedy, there's child molestation, lust for innocent virgins, and unforgiving gun violence. the more details are divulged, the more we hear about the story: the victims were shot execution style, the murderer was on some desperate-housewives-jekyll-and-hyde kick - taking his beloved children to school before participating in a heinous murder-suicide... leaving a cryptic note where he speaks from the grave, offering excuses for his planned mayhem...

i shouldn't be surprised after all. everytime innocents (most especially white innocents) are slaughtered by the sick, you can't get away from it in the news - think jon benet ramsey or natalie holloway. but don't mistake this as a diatribe against racism in the media. this is, instead, a commentary against a media that seems intent on feeding the public the creepiest, most disgusting stories it can find.

this particular situation involving the amish school incident bothers me for a few reasons. first of all, the amish are a simple and rather private people by choice, based on their beliefs. i've seen images of the surrounding community gathered to grieve that have been taken by helicopter news photographers. for a moment, please imagine yourself standing at the last funeral procession or prayer service you've been to, and then superimpose the sound and wind of a hovering helicopter and the glaring presence of camera crews and news reporters buzzing on the side of the road, gawking at you in the face of your grief. that is callously insensitive and unnecessary. i find that the amish are being extremely tolerant of the media in light of the fact that they have to deal with their priceless losses. a lesser people might have railed against the intrusive media presence by now.

another reason i am bothered by this amount of coverage is because we are approaching the deadlines for voter registration and we are approaching important midterm congressional and important local elections. there are many political developments happening now. if we leave it to the media, the only education we'll get about the candidates is the one we'll get from the mud slinging ads in commercial breaks. folks need to be informed in an impartial way about where they can get information about the candidates, so that they can be informed voters, hold incumbents accountable, and make challengers work for the opportunity to serve their constituencies. we have a war going on. the violence in our own communities is alarming. the classes are clashing, the middle class is losing ground, the elderly are struggling, the schools are incompetent...

but for the first few minutes of a given news hour lately, if you switch from news broadcast to news broadcast - local or national - all you see are images of the amish people and responding officers in the wake of the schoolhouse tragedy. all the other news takes a backseat to the shocking. this way, the advertisers who pay for airtime during the news can sell their cars, their political propaganda, and their insanely expensive prescription medications.

for shame.