one man's ceiling
Thursday, April 19, 2007
  what constitutes a national tragedy?

a young man took the lives of 32 people and himself on monday. statistically 80 americans die from gun violence every day, but because they don't happen all at once or in the same place that statistic doesn't rate as news. which is the greater national tragedy?

yesterday there were 233 deaths in iraq, one of the largest single-day fatalities, yet the story was pushed aside for day-long coverage of news about our national tragedy.

(supreme court decision? what supreme court decision?)

so far, the estimate for civilian deaths in the iraq war is between 62,000 and 68,000 with no end in sight. the number of american fatalities is just over 3300. what makes one number newsworthy over another?

there's been a fair amount of hand-wringing and discussion in the news these past couple of days over mental health and why a clearly disturbed individual could so easily slip through the cracks. (and they have to keep mentioning how deranged/disturbed he was in order to show that they aren't simply in it for the gore; but they are) yet the nation didn't do any hand-wringing or hold any substantive discussions in the 1980's when ronald reagan's fiscal agenda gutted national mental health care system in favor of decentralization via local funding, community health centers and "block grants" which were designed to expire during his administration.

what gets ignored today becomes a national tragedy tomorrow. or, for those who prefer to have their reality masked in dogma: reap what you sow.

tragedy. you have to get three definitions in before you find an entry that doesn't concern drama in the american heritage dictionary.
3. A disastrous event, especially one involving distressing loss or injury to life: an expedition that ended in tragedy, with all hands lost at sea.

4. A tragic aspect or element.
since 9/11 it seems the news media goes from event to event, sniffing like a hungry dog, looking for the latest tragedy. news stories that provide breadth and scope and analysis have been replaced by expert speculation and professional opinion and a general lack of understanding of what constitutes news.

that is our greatest national tragedy.
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