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Friday, August 18, 2006

An American obsession

The killing keeps going on in Iraq involving Shiites, Sunnis, insurgents and, regrettably, American troops, and the Iraqi government isn't doing much to stop it. Hezbollah is a new force on the world stage, turning from firing rockets at Israel to reconstructing southern Lebanon, thanks to its benefactor, Iran. The cost of everything, especially gasoline, is high and going higher, with too many folks wondering why the supposedly healthy economy is bypassing them.

So what story dominates the news pages, talk shows and watercooler these days? The JonBenet Ramsey story and reports from Thailand that John Karr killed her. But it was an accident. Finally, the case is solved - or maybe not.

What is it about Americans that we are drawn to crime stories? And if the crime involves a celebrity - O.J., Robert Blake, Kobe Bryant - so much the better. Maybe the dark side of life is much easier to digest than economics or geopolitics. After all, the suspect did it or he didn't. And we have a chance to show our humanity with expressions of sympathy for the victim. Maybe the finality of a conviction provides closure that's so hard to reach in the world. Whatever it is, we can't seem to get enough of these kinds of stories. Is it any wonder why we can't get a handle on the really important issues of the day?


Anonymous Nick Fera said...

When did news become, basically, news about crime? If the gas company announced a new technology that will reduce gas bills in the area by 50%, and on the same day, some local guy kills his wife, the Asbury Park Press will put the murder in the headlines. The gas rates would affect a million people; the murder only one family.

2:49 PM, August 18, 2006  
Anonymous Donnie said...

Your racisim is showing. You consider it regrettable that American troops are being killed by criminals in Iraq. But you don't consider it regrettalbe that innocent Iraqis are being killed.

Iraq is a crime story as well. The so-called insurgents are criminals. Just because the murderers are on your side doesn't mean that murder isn't a crime.

8:57 AM, August 19, 2006  
Anonymous EricTheRed said...

Donnie … First of all, “racism” is a charge desperate people make when they have nothing substantive to contribute to a debate. (Plus, “Iraqi” isn’t even a race.) Secondly, your whole second paragraph, in which you say “so-called insurgents,” is confusing. Do you consider the term “insurgent” too lenient or too harsh? And to whom do you refer by “murderers on your side,” the insurgents or coalition troops? If the answers to either question are the latter, you’ve deftly demonstrated that your moral compass is a whole 180 degrees off. In any case, your entire post is so off-topic from Mr. Benjamin’s entry.

9:19 PM, August 20, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hezbollah is anything but "a new force on the world stage," Mr. Benjamin.

1:54 PM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Nick Fera said...

Mr. Benjamin, I thought more about this issue, and you've inspired an idea. In addition to the usual breakdowns of "regional" and "national," maybe newspapers should have separate "violent crimes" and "non-violent crimes" sections. The main news sections would be devoted to items that affect the largest number of people or have the greatest impact on way-of-life. Priority in news reporting would become that which truly affects readers over that which merely fascinates or entertains them.

5:33 PM, August 21, 2006  
Anonymous Donnie said...

So eric the red,
in your tidy little world racism does not exist. But it is okay to murder people of one nation but not people of another.

"Insurgents" is far too nice a term for murdering thugs. People who intentionally blow up marketplaces and slowly cut people's heads off with knives are the murderers who are on your side.

I don't know why you want to discuss a moral compass when you couldn't read one to save your life.

12:10 AM, August 23, 2006  
Anonymous ericthered said...


"in your tidy little world racism does not exist. But it is okay to murder people of one nation but not people of another."

Of course not, but unlike you, I do not peek behind people's every utterance expecting to find "racism." From which nation, in your opinion, are too many people being murdered and where are there not enough? I don't recall even suggesting such a thing.

Re: your second paragraph. Well at least we agree on something.

You want to discuss real discrimination? What do all the defendents in Mr. Benjamin's post have in common? They're all men! Isn't there a single high profile female on trial? Well, yes, there's one: Andrea Yates. She's the mother from Texas who systematically held her five children's heads underwater until they drowned, then was found not guilty due to a severe case of post-partum depression. Gee, maybe Kobe should have used that one.

2:17 PM, August 23, 2006  

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