Walking Dead

Dead this week, the headlines have been filled with tragedy.

Andrew Breitbart, the infamous conservative loudmouth who had been embroiled in more than one scandal in his pursuit to bring down those on the other side of the aisle.

Davy Jones, the front man for The Monkees a TV Pop band of the mid-sixties, many referred to this band as Beatles-lite. Davy Jones never did anything spectacular, never did anything mean spirited either. He was simply a part of many of our lives when we were young.

Two unnamed US Soldiers in Kandahar, Afghanistan; this brings the total to six since the burning of the Qur’an in the trash pits. Despite our Presidents apology for this unintentional act of blasphemy we have once again created put our soldiers at even greater risk.

Courtesy of Washingtonpost.com

Daniel Parmetor, 17 : Russell King Jr., 17 : Demetrius Hewlin, 17; three teenagers dead at the hand of their classmate for no reason other than they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. Their deaths damned near ignored by all but their families, their friends and those whose lives they touched during the short time they had on this earth.

Why do I bring up these deaths? Because of the seven, the most reported in mainstream and social media was Andrew Breitbart, the mean spirited, loudmouthed, bombastic and all too frequent liar. Suddenly, in his death he reached sainthood; even his antagonists are mourning his demise. Perhaps it is that he will no longer be a foil for them, or that they will no longer have a ready target; nonetheless while his death at the age of 43 is certainly sad for his family and friends it should not, in my opinion overshadow others of far more social significance, should it?

Poor Davy Jones, his death became the focus of my ire early in the week when the number of Facebook posts of his passing at 66, far exceeded the number of posts about the five teenagers who were gunned down in Ohio at random, there had been hardly a bleep on the radar of mainstream or social media about that story. This is not to say I was angry at his death, certainly I was not, like many people my age I fondly remember the ridiculousness of The Monkees, their silly and sweet music and Davy Jones himself. My indignation was instead focused on how shallow we seem to be as humans that this death was more important; the death of a long out of the spotlight celebrity was more vital to our national conversation than the death of three teenagers or the soldiers being randomly targeted in Afghanistan.

Courtesy of TheCount.com

Worse still than the what seemed to be the complete disregard of the tragedy in Ohio, was the importance of other stories in the spotlight of mainstream and social media; what story took even more space, more breathless awe from those who would turn our heads and values? Are you afraid to ask? I will tell you because it made me want to run screaming from the room and turn off my connections to the world forever, Angelina Jolie and her new leg pose was far more important than the School Shooting in Chardon, Ohio on Monday 27-Feb-2012, just one day prior.

My problem of course had been building for days, I had been watching for anyone to start discussing the issue of children with guns, school shootings and escalating violence in our schools. Nothing! Nothing at all throughout the day or across the various social media sites I haunt. I was disheartened, to say the very least.

I had to ask the question – “What is wrong with this world, with this nation? Not a word anywhere when 5 children are shot, one already dead.”

These are the answers to my simple question:

Sadly Val, I think it’s because the story just wasn’t shocking/exciting enough. Only 1 dead ? with one handgun ?….Some people want to see multiple bloodied bodies taken on shaky camera-phones. They want to hear phrases like ‘semi-automatic’ and ‘uzi’ and if possible have their TVs vomit the stench of cordite…Sad but true.I don’t know, unless they are afraid that this type of story tends to get sensationalized and may actually serve to promote more of this kind of tragedy by providing attention to it

This actually was covered on ABC World News yesterday but It does seem that celeb silliness is more newsworthy than significant and meaningful news impacting whole communities. It’s an absolute travesty that our news outlets so often reduce themselves to the lowest common denominator.

Lack of God. The more people take God and Jesus out of everything in order that they may do as they please.. the worse our world gets. Simple.

Just as a update: 3 children are now dead… 2nd victim is brain dead, 3rd passed away about 3 hours ago.

I think the answers are both terrible and terrifying. They speak to what is in part wrong with us as a people that we have allowed our attention to be diverted by what is trivial rather than focus on what is most important, most vital to our continuation as a society. The observations by two of the commenters are very specific in they identify the social and media misdirection.

My third commenter provided an observation that is personal and pointed, an opinion as to why this is happening today, it led to a longer discussion that I intend to convert into another post shortly.

At the end of the day though, my problem is this; I have over 4,000 contacts on Facebook. Of those, four of commented on this story and during this week of tragedy I can count on one hand how many of them commented elsewhere. I would however require my calculator to track the number of posts about the deaths of Andrew Breitbart, Davy Jones or God Help Me how Angelina Jolie exposed her leg at the Oscars.

What is wrong with this world?


  1. It is the same media that carry the continual and implacable message that guns are good. According the FBI figures in 2010 there were 8775 gun deaths in the USA. Is this because Americans are more naturally predisposed to murder or could it be the 200 million privately owned guns in your country that are available for people to instantly expressed their anger and aggression? The gun lobby has a lot to answer for.

    However deplorable, the reason that Davey Jones got more airtime than these school kids is that he was part of our lives, whereas the poor unfortunate children were not.

    • Bill, I don’t disagree that our gun laws are out of control. Unfortunately you will find few Americans willing to change the Constitutional guarantee to gun ownership, no matter how we might interpret the intent or the need to move with changing times. Indeed the Gun Lobby has much to answer for, we have in so many cases reverted to an Old West mentality with little consideration or thought to what this means. Our lack of foresight, control or management over this single issue defines us in ways that cannot be expressed in this small space.

      I don’t disagree with you, Davey Jones touched our lives. So did Whitney Houston, for that matter so does Angelina Jolie. My point is they shouldn’t, they shouldn’t be more important to us than the young people dying in our streets and in our schools every day.

  2. Wow. What a sad statement about society to say that we are more interested in Angelina’s leg than a shooting. Your post will hopefully help bring some people back to their senses (I can’t speak for all and some people just don’t have any sense!)

    • Sad indeed, terrifying and terrible. I continue to be stunned by the lack of compassion I see around me these days. I know I can be hard and hardhearted at times. But generally when this comes out of me it is directed at people who are deserving of my cold disdain, even then I try hard to check myself at the door (doesn’t always work though).

  3. Last year, I did a year long project called “Kindness, Pass it On” with my students (I’m going to add a couple of links below). The project was inspired by Rachel Scott’s death (she was the first person killed at Columbine). Thank you for the reminder – will post a reminder of my own on FB.

  4. As society gets used to bloodshed in vast amounts we become jaded, and it takes more and more to attract the sensationalism it deserves.

    Great post – your final tag-line looks awfully familiar…

  5. You are absolutely right to be frustrated with what is considered newsworthy. The school shooting, after how many now, is ho-hum, it seems. Our soldiers are not appreciated even when / if they make it back home maimed after putting their lives on the line. (I never agreed they should be there to cleanup the impossible mess same as Vietnam). Should we blame the press? Is sensationalism of the most colourful that wins the spotlight? All I have a questions but no answers. Of course, I’ve been somewhat jaded for some time.

    • I think we are all jaded and that perhaps is the problem, for us all. We are so desensitized to what is terrible that instead of lifting our voices and demanding change we simply turn off the television when it delivers bad news.

      I am terrified.

  6. I could regale you with my opinion of the utter lack of brain power and ethics and compassion of our current residence, but I still believe it would we woefully inadequate to express my utter disdain for media, rabid consumers of media and the minions who perpetuate it socially.

    The short version: Ugh.

    And glad I was on that one hand.

    • Except that all of our disdain translates to turning off our access rather than lifting our voices, lifting our pens, using the power we have so readily available to us — our votes both real and monetary to change the face of society. We sit back and point accusatory fingers at what is wrong, yet refuse to demand change through our abilities to create that change in our communities and upon the broader national stage.

      I might have despised Breitbart his soapbox and ideologies, but he stood upon it and shouted loudly enough to be heard.

      • When it comes to the media, I do hit the bottom line. I am not a consumer. I am not influenced by their insipid ads. I do not create their ratings. I go so far as to not patronize their websites.

        Yes, there are so many Americans paralyzed by their disdain as to not voice it. We need to network. Lend out electricity to their head electrodes. Shock them into action. Even if the action is merely parroting the message. How many wars have been begun and redefined by propaganda and effective information exchange?
        Never Silent

  7. I’ve read the stories about the students, but I have no words of wisdom or quirky bits. Every time this sort of thing happens I’m reminded of one thing – it was a sudden and simple redistricting that kept my cousins from attending Columbine High School – and I remember not knowing where they went to High School when that happened, and fearing they were among the wounded or dead.

    I’ve also read the comments about Briebart, and can honestly say that I’ve ignored him as much in death as I did in life – he’s not worth the energy. I tend not to comment on a lot of things unless I have something to offer, and in the case of the tragedy, as one of my friends would say… I got nothing, man.

    • All of our stories, where we were when something happened that changes our national conversation never mean as much as when they touch close to home. I am glad your cousins were not part of Columbine, violence of any kind leaves a lasting impression but for some reason random violence leaves something different and much harder to process, harder to leave behind us.

      I don’t think anything have much, except I hope we can start somewhere to begin to learn compassion. Perhaps we can start to see ourselves through the lens of what we are as a people becoming. I sorrow for these young men and their families, for the community that must emerge from this I hope stronger. But I also sorrow for the young man who acted on his need for violence and took three lives, he must live with this for the remainder of his life which now will likely be spent behind bars, no hope no future.


  1. […] lack of compassion or concern or anything resembling humanity this week on the social and  mainstream media outlets […]

  2. […] lack of compassion or concern or anything resembling humanity this week on the social and  mainstream media outlets […]

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