It's Recess-time Somewhere

Proud Member of the Reality-Based Sandbox

August 19, 2005

Shock and Awe

So, I've been thinking lately about the media and the culture of fear that it tends to inspire and how it's kind of a vicious circle in that people want to be shocked, so the media provides shocking stories because they want to make money. The media provides shocking stories, so that's what the people watch, and it whips them into a frenzy about these shocking things, and they like it and want to be shocked more.

Yesterday, Wonkette showed that CNN, Fox and MSNBC all had the sentencing of Dennis Rader(BTK) on at the same time. I don't even understand why that is news. The guy admitted he was guilty of brutally killing ten people in a state that didn't have the death penalty when the murders were committed. It seems most obvious to anyone vaguely familiar with the law and the case, that he's gonna spend the rest of his life in prison. So why do we care if he gets ten life sentences or just three or four? He's never getting out.

The folks I work with were re-hashing the whole case this afternoon. Now I can think of little else that affects these people less than the sentencing of serial killer in Kansas, but they were really passionate and opinionated about all these "crazies" out there. They're afraid to let their ten year old kids ride their bikes to the corner store for fear of pedophiles in Idaho. They're afraid to take a vacation to Aruba. Mind you, these are the same people that argue about who should get kicked off American Idol or The Apprentice. Again, things that aren't going to affect their lives in the slightest. But nonetheless, they get their panties in bunches over these things.

Same with sports. Sports fans are just about the most passionate lot, when it comes to their teams and who's gonna win the big game. While in today's world winning a national championship does bring significant revenue to a city, the fans generally aren't thinking about that when they are painting their faces and chests with their team's logo.

And I'm just as guilty. I like national politics. When I suppose if I really wanted to try to make a difference to things that will effect me personally and directly, I should focus on local politics or volunteering, or helping out my neighbors and others in my community. But I don't because the drama of what's going on in national politics is much more interesting than most of the local stuff. The shocking incompetence and corruption of the current Administration and the futility and long-term damaging nature of the war in Iraq pretty much trump anything that's going on here in Tampa.

Here in the U.S.A, the standard of living is significantly higher than many other countries. Most of us don't have to worry about where our next meal is coming from. And even if we do, we have sports, missing brides and reality TV to take our minds off of it.

Even though we have the right to protest, vote and petition congress, folks here in the U.S. seem pretty disinterested in things that really matter, compared to other countries where young men are willing to strap bombs on their backs and blow themselves up for something they believe in. It just seems that if we could take the passion we feel for Penn State Football or Survivor and put that energy towards helping people and making the world a better place, we could all live happily ever after.

Now let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya!


  • At August 19, 2005, Anonymous stinkeye said…


    Why, you sly little boots! I didn't know you had your own sandbox.

    According to your thoughts for today it seems I have found kinship with you on matters national and international. I, too, lack passion on matters municipal. Tip O'Neill's nostrum that ALL politics are local is most assuredly true but stinkeye prefers to brawl with the tutti d tutti dictators.

    Now, you are much too young to be thinking, let alone speaking, of purdy mouths. Kids are in such a hurry to grow up these days. Why, when I was a child, z z z z z z z z z z z z. Oh, sorry, where was I?

  • At August 19, 2005, Anonymous tommy said…

    "the drama of... national politics is much more interesting."

    Farther reaching, maybe, but local stuff is as interesting. You can easily see the local administration's incompetence, but better hidden is the corruption. I assure you it is there.


  • At August 19, 2005, Blogger Sylvana said…

    Well said.

  • At August 20, 2005, Blogger cookie christine said…

    yes, I do have my own sandbox, and you better play nice.

    No pooping in the sandbox like I've heard you've done on other blogs.

  • At August 20, 2005, Blogger Alicia said…

    I agree with you, Cookie. But I do think there's a difference between getting all het up over "Survivor" and getting all het up over national politics, becuase I think the way to effect change is through awareness. If enough people become engaged in the debate, then things have a hope of changing. Without awareness, they definitely will not change.

    There are a lot of people who don't agree with what Cindy Sheehan is doing, but she has opened a debate and people are talking about the war in a way that they weren't before, and that is a measure of success. Not whether the Kowboy Koward of Krawford deigns to talk with her - he can't; what's he going to say - "You're right, Cindy, I'm a warmongering pig but I'm changing my ways and I'm going to bring the boys and girls home now"? But people are discussing it and that's what's important. Whether it's positive or negative doesn't really matter - it's being talked about.

    Hey - I think Bart is running away with the election! :-D

  • At August 21, 2005, Anonymous mary said…

    Ohhhhh I'm having so much fun thinking of Cookie on the Board of County Commissioners or the Mayor of Tampa. Wow oh wow, they wouldn't stand a chance to pull the crap they do now. If you ever run, I will work on your campaign - promise.


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