Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Baby Caylee and other Weapons of Mass Distraction

Mike Thomas, columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, has an interesting column in today’s paper. His thesis is essentially this: “It seems for a lot of people, [the Baby Caylee story] beats watching the real news these days.” Fair enough. But that simply identifies the obvious. What might this say about us as a people?

Supposedly we Americans have the best lives in the world. Why, then, must we constantly distract ourselves with schlock on the airwaves? Why do we sedate ourselves with mind-numbing “reality shows” and bitchy talent shows all the while ingesting any number of chemical sedatives we’ve been sold by the corporate sponsors of those shows as we watch them? If our lives are so great, why must we constantly be numb to them?

Moreover, what is our aversion to actual news? Our economy is crumbling. Our environment is changing and thrashing us for its abuse in the form of mega-hurricanes and fires. Our country is in such deep deficit that it can no longer adequately fund its overextended military abroad or the services required when those used up soldiers return to our country. Our schools and universities are hurling headlong down the toilet. And larger and larger numbers of people cannot be assured of medical care when they are sick. All of these concerns and more demand our immediate attention and extended commitment, assuming we do not wish to see this wonderful country and our privileged lifestyles crumble before our eyes. But rather than deal with those realities, we continue to tune out and tune into schlock.

It’s as if there is a devil’s bargain cut between the skeletal news media remaining after being gutted by greedy and short-sighted stockholders, a public desperate to avoid any social responsibilities and the corporations who, as George Carlin so aptly put it, ultimately own us. The deal is this: The public won’t demand real news, the media will provide weapons of mass distraction, and the corporations remain happy because their vested interests in the status quo will continue unthreatened.

It’s a deal based on avoidance, denial and deception where no one is responsible for anything other than self-interest. It’s also a recipe for disaster.

The Rev. Harry Scott Coverston, J.D., Ph.D.
Member, Florida Bar (inactive status)
Priest, Episcopal Church (Dio. of El Camino Real, CA)
Instructor: Humanities, Religion, Philosophy of Law
University of Central Florida, Orlando

If the unexamined life is not worth living, surely an unexamined belief system, be it religious or political, is not worth holding.

Most things of value do not lend themselves to production in sound bytes.

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