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Tilting at Windmills

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April 20, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

THE TRAGEDY INDUSTRY....I don't agree with every sentence in Rosa Brooks' op-ed today about the Virigina Tech shooting, but she does manage to put into words something that bugs me as well:

Convincing ourselves that we've been vicariously traumatized by the pain of strangers has become a cherished national pastime. Thus, the Washington Post this week accompanied online stories about the shooting with a clickable sidebar, "Where to Find Support" — apparently on the assumption that the mere experience of glancing at articles about the tragedy would be so emotionally devastating that readers would require trained therapists.

....Count me out. There's something fraudulent about this eagerness to latch onto the grief of others and embrace the idea that we, too, have been victimized. This trivializes the pain felt by those who have actually lost something and pathologizes normal reactions to tragedy. Empathy is good, but feeling shocked and saddened by the shootings doesn't make us traumatized or special — these feelings make us normal.

It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage. There's a point where genuine empathy turns into artifice, an attempt to loudly and publicly demonstrate our continued empathy bona fides rather than a genuine demonstration of empathy itself, and I think we passed that point some time ago.

Kevin Drum 1:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (113)

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It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage.

So dial it down already.

The script for an episode of next season's Law and Order has already been written.

Posted by: MatthewRMarler on April 20, 2007 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

hear, hear.

Dear MSM, STFU SVP.

Posted by: cleek on April 20, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed, but it's not really the natural reaction of the populace. Rather, it's media-driven. The same thing occurred with the Imus situation, where he made a stupid comment that probably required that he be fired, and for days the media proclaimed how his statements had been "horrific," and other over-the-top adjectives. I think that the problem is that for anyone to be heard in the competition of 24-hour newschannels and blogs, they need to ratchet-up the language, which leads to exaggerating the response to every news item.

Posted by: Tillman Fan on April 20, 2007 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

There's something fraudulent about this eagerness to latch onto the grief of others and embrace the idea that we, too, have been victimized.

Have you ever noticed how many people try to find connections to the tragedies?

"My mother's aunt's son went to Virginia Tech."

"My brother's wife's cousin was killed on 9/11."

Never understood it. Does it make your thoughts about a tragedy more credible?

Posted by: Old Hat on April 20, 2007 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if you can trace part of this back to 9/11, and a sort-of ratchet effect that you can't now display less grief/mourning/concern/whatever than we did then. At least here in NYC, however, there was good reason to assume everybody might need therapy -- people were genuinely freaked out and devastated by the constant reminders around them (the ubiquitous heartbreaking "Lost" postings everywhere, the months-long smell of Ground Zero burning), even if you personally didn't lose someone close to you.

Posted by: Glenn on April 20, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Grief "industry" is definitely the term. These days, the grief professionals usually come in to exacerbate the situation, dragging it out and making sure that even well-adjusted people end up traumatized.

Growing up, we had several kids in my school to died at various times of various causes. We all knew what had happened, and those of us who were close to the deceased grieved in our own ways.

Last year, one kid in the local school was killed in a car crash. Grief counselors descended on the school. They hounded kids who had not even known the victim, telling those poor souls that they "had to come to terms" with what they were feeling, that they "shouldn't suppress" their feelings of pain, sorrow, guilt, and so on. This went on for more than a month.

By the time the grief professionals left, the poor kids were far more traumatized--some because they had been convinced they were monsters because they did not grieve copiously for someone they did not know, others because they had their grieving so drawn out and extended that they could no longer let it go.

Posted by: Derelict on April 20, 2007 at 1:38 PM | PERMALINK

It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage. There's a point where genuine empathy turns into artifice, an attempt to loudly and publicly demonstrate our continued empathy bona fides rather than a genuine demonstration of empathy itself, and I think we passed that point some time ago.

And yet liberals have no problems with constantly demanding more coverage of brave soldiers dying in Iraq. How hypocritical.

Posted by: Al on April 20, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

Whereas I pretty much agreed with her column right through. Enough of this ghoulish vicarious spectacle.

Now give us meaningful gun control legislation and tell the NRA and its lobbyists to f**k off.

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 20, 2007 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

And yet liberals have no problems with constantly demanding more coverage of brave soldiers dying in Iraq. How hypocritical

Heh..this is parody Al, right? Funny stuff.

Posted by: Glenn on April 20, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Another Republican motif, fake empathy with victims that achieves nothing and costs nothing, yet dolls up a lot of pretended empathy cred.

Posted by: cld on April 20, 2007 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

So where is all of the so-called empathy for those innocent Iraqis dying EVERY SINGLE DAY because we Americans lack the guts to hold our "leaders" accountable for the mass murders being committed in our name?

Brooks is absolutely right, but she did not go nearly far enough.

Posted by: bdrube on April 20, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK
Never understood it. Does it make your thoughts about a tragedy more credible? Posted by: Old Hat on April 20, 2007 at 1:34 PM


Some people do think that.

I hear arguments like, "You can't comment on "X" because you've never experienced it." or "You've never lost anyone because of "X", therefore your opinions are invalid." all the time.

Posted by: Dr. Morpheus on April 20, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage.

But then we'd have to think about:

4 bombings in Baghdad kill 183; day's nationwide toll is 233
http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070418/NEWS28/304180015/-1/NEWS


113 Somalis killed in 3 days of heavy fighting
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2007-04-20-somalia_N.htm

If the people keep watching VT coverage, the MSM will keep showing it. If it didn't happen in America, it hardly happened at all.

Posted by: thersites on April 20, 2007 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

Dr. M: I hear arguments like, "You can't comment on "X" because you've never experienced it."

Or: "how dare you criticize the Iraq war, my father fought in World War II." Yes, I really have heard exatcly that.

Posted by: thersites on April 20, 2007 at 1:48 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the theme of the diary, but isn't it possible that the clickable sidebar on the Washington Post web site is intended for family or friends of those killed at Va Tech? The Post after all is located in the same region as the college.

Posted by: Karl Weber on April 20, 2007 at 1:49 PM | PERMALINK

Well, I've been able to take other shootings in stride, but living in VA, this one has hit me harder than I expected. And I don't know anyone personally involved.

So I'm hesitant to say "We need to ratchet it down a notch" although I often felt that way in the past, when I was pretty much completely removed from what took place.

Posted by: geml on April 20, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's an outrage the way the media keeps on harping on this tragedy. We should call out the Army and National Guard immediately to repair the bullet holes and repaint the school, then force the media to run happy stories with smiling students next to their freshly-painted school. By doing this EVERY SINGLE TIME we have a school shooting we'll show those terrorists they can't push us around.

Okay, the above is snark, but if we gave just one one-hundredth of the attention to a victimized Iraqui family that we give to our own this stupid war would have been over long ago.

Posted by: wfeather on April 20, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

I hear arguments like, "You can't comment on "X" because you've never experienced it."

This is apparently a one-way street for conservatives. Otherwise, Derbyshire would have kept his yap shut.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 20, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

i still think you are far too generous to the television coverage. i've watched absolutely nothing these past several days, just because prior experience has shown the true colors of these ratings-chasing maggots. it's endless hours of empty cliches and emotional exploitation -- scumbags feeding off the slaughterhouse buffet.

Posted by: linda on April 20, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Nails it! I'm so sick of these people who feel the need to inject themselves into someone else's tragedy. How many people went on and on about how their brother's old roommate worked in Manhattan in 9/11. "Whew! That was a close one for me. You obviously don't have the connection that I do to this trauma. For me, it's REAL."

Posted by: John on April 20, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with the theme of the diary, but isn't it possible that the clickable sidebar on the Washington Post web site is intended for family or friends of those killed at Va Tech? The Post after all is located in the same region as the college.

Of course. Even though VT is in a distant part of the state, much of the population of VA has occasion to read the Post. No doubt many of the victims were from the DC metro area.

There's also a remote chance a link like this could also lead to positive intervention for someone contemplating a similar crime. Anything that has even a 0.01% chance of helping someone in similar straits as Cho get help is probably worth a little screen real estate.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on April 20, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

I understand the Rosa Brooks comments, but I can tell you that this event DOES affect people who have been traumatized or work with those who have. I spent 30 minutes the day after the event with the Victim Services Coordinator for our local tribe who deals with domestic violence victims daily. The Virginia Tech shootings led her to seek help. A newspaper offering resources for emotional support is doing a responsible thing.

Posted by: Frobisher on April 20, 2007 at 1:59 PM | PERMALINK

Much as I despise the MSN for this and othre reasons, don't any of you have kids? My nine year-old is fairly upset with all of this and worries about the safety of his school. We keep TV news to minimum-to-none, BTW.

I hear from a lot of parents of third-to-fifth graders or so, their kids, who are all upset about this (and they do talk in the class, on the bus, at others homes) are asking a lot of questions about their safety.

Posted by: MaxGowan on April 20, 2007 at 2:01 PM | PERMALINK

I concur with Karl above: VA Tech is in the extended Washington Post coverage area and a number of those killed were from the DC/VA metro area. This is a local story for them and locally there's an extended number of people affected.

Posted by: Steve in Sacto on April 20, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

There's a slaughter of civilians that matches (or dwarfs) Virginia Tech almost every day of the week in Iraq. Too bad that there's so little sympathy for them.

That said, the Washington Post is the local paper for lots of people who have a family member attending Virginia Tech. Because of that, their "where to find support" item is completely appropriate.

Posted by: Joe Buck on April 20, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

As the poster above has noted, the wall to wall coverage is more jarring beacuse of the deafening silence (other than the clinical coverage of the cold facts) about the carnage in Iraq, much of which can be attributed to our presence there, especially in light of the fact that the death of 183 people in Iraq is roughly equivalent to slaughter of 1800 people here.

Posted by: gregor on April 20, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I think were bored by mass killing these days.Everything we seen is through the lens of a television and somehow we've blurred the reality with the fiction.Does it grab you does it make you think?Is it worth staying up for will I learn something I never knew.We've seen the "Madman shoots up school"thing before.We need something new and unique.How bout madman shoots up air force one?I've never seen that.

Posted by: Dublin on April 20, 2007 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin and Rose and most of the commentators on here are being overly cynical. There are plenty of people who have been traumatized in a way similar to the tragedy in VT, and the wall-to-wall coverage is causing them to relive their traumas, which in many cases may require a bit of professional help.

It must be nice to have never suffered the kind of pain that allows such cynicism to flourish.

Posted by: Disputo on April 20, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

There's a point where genuine empathy turns into artifice.

A good point worth agreeing with..."If you don't tune into this sotry about this awful, tragic event, there's something emotionally/morally defective with you." Any promo about A Very Special episode of a particular show uses the same tactic; just another tool to get your attention and keep you tuned in through the commercials.

The play on your emotions start when there's nothing new to say, but airtime to fill.

Posted by: grape_grush on April 20, 2007 at 2:15 PM | PERMALINK

It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage. There's a point where genuine empathy turns into artifice, an attempt to loudly and publicly demonstrate our continued empathy bona fides rather than a genuine demonstration of empathy itself, and I think we passed that point some time ago.

This is exactly right. You want to know what makes us a sick society? Well, how about starting with all the "processing" that we insist on engaging in over such events?

To me, the most disgusting aspect of all about this is how the ritual hand wringing and faked up tears only distract from whatever useful changes might be brought about in the wake of the tragedy. Even when something IS done, its shape is driven by the feelings people have about the tragedy, not by the detailed preconditions of what happened.

So, for example, we find ourselves directing all our attention to the highly emotional "root causes", which always turn out to be such things as disaffected youth, or videogames, or violence on TV and in the movies, but, of course, never changing anything of substance, because those problems are basically intractable anyway. But it feels so good to talk about those things instead of instituting practical but emotionally unsatisfying measures, such as stricter gun control.

Really, who wants to talk about keeping guns out of the hands of 23 year olds with a history of involuntary commitment, when we can, instead, enjoy hearing about the drama of his being bullied, and of his own bullying of other students, and can weep unearned tears with the victims and their families?

Posted by: frankly0 on April 20, 2007 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

"And yet liberals have no problems with constantly demanding more coverage of brave soldiers dying in Iraq. How hypocritical."

So, if we don't support the surge in Iraq, Cho will have already won.

Anyway, what Kevin said. The schlockly sentimentality of the coverage is undignified, and trivializes the tragedy as the networks parachute in their blow-dried anchors to cover the "human interest" angle. If we're not goign to make serious changes to avert these kind of tragedies (and we won't), then for God's sake, give them their privacy.

Meanwhile, Iraq has 4 x Virginia Techs a day, and Darfur similar or more. Reminds me of what Stalin said about one man's death being a tragedy, one million being a statistic.

Posted by: No Longer a Urinated State of America on April 20, 2007 at 2:21 PM | PERMALINK

"We've seen the "Madman shoots up school"thing before.We need something new and unique."

Perhaps a reality TV show, where wannabe mass killers pitch their ideas for a massacre to a panel of judges, and then we vote the lamest idea off the Island. Maybe we could get OJ to host with Ted Kazynski and the mortal remains of Tim McVeigh.

[BTW, the 12th anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing was yesterday. Did we see shit about it? No.]

Posted by: No Longer a Urinated State of America on April 20, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

A hundred Iraqi's are dying each day you don't see them holding candlelight vigils while playing guitar over lighted candles.


We could learn alot from these people.

Posted by: Dublin on April 20, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

Well, personally, I dialed it down for myself by turning off my television, my radio, and the front page of my newspaper for a couple of days, precisely because I knew that there would be an orgy of just this kind of thing. Does that make me a bad person?

Posted by: PaulB on April 20, 2007 at 2:25 PM | PERMALINK

It's all about money. As much as we complain about wall to wall coverage, and the "grief industry" millions and millions of people are willing to spend lots of time watching the coverage. Circulation and ratings are boosted whenever there is a Virginia Tech, or an Oklahoma City, or a Columbine. It's all good for the networks and newspapers (and the bloggers.) We are all hypocrites for pretending otherwise. The kind of media pandering to sick voyeurism we have experienced the last day or so is part of the American experience.

Posted by: Ron Byers on April 20, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

God, I hope that we can move on to something more productive. The media has moved from saturation reporting of the story, to reporting on the reporting of the story. I expect that we are 48 hrs from the reporting on the reporting on the reporting of the story, at which point the coverage gets too meta for most people and they start following American Idol again.

As for me, I'm done discussing this tragedy unless the discussion involves coming up with practical solutions to prevent its recurrence.

In addition to the many rudimentary preventive measures that VA needs to take (like not allowing certified nuts to own guns), I like Chicago Mayor Daley's call for having a public DB of gun owners. There is a public interest in knowing if the couple next door that screams at each other all hours of the night have a firearm in their house.

Posted by: Disputo on April 20, 2007 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Today little girl, 6 years old, and her older brother, age 9, were killed by a road side bomb outside of Baghdad."

I'm shocked that this has happened to children so young. Why can't we do something? Shame on us, for doing nothing at all to end the situation. Trillion dollars spent and there is nothing better about Iraq's safety or ours. Stop the war machine fighting over gods.
Think above faith and god. It's about time.

Posted by: concerned on April 20, 2007 at 2:27 PM | PERMALINK

I'm with thersites (and others who followed in the same vein). The level of violence and suffering is orders of magnitude greater in Iraq. It doesn't seem right for us, as a nation, to be paying so much more attention to the VT shootings.

Also, it makes me kind of sick to see Cho's hand-picked hollywood-action-star glamour pics plastered all over the news.

Posted by: Will on April 20, 2007 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Can you say Princess Diana?

Posted by: Louis Mahern on April 20, 2007 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I'm so oversaturated with the VT shootings coverage I can't even bring myself to comment further on this post about it. It's pathological how the media gets fixated.

Posted by: ExBrit on April 20, 2007 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

MaxGowan:

Much as I despise the MSN for this and othre reasons, don't any of you have kids? My nine year-old is fairly upset with all of this and worries about the safety of his school. We keep TV news to minimum-to-none, BTW. I hear from a lot of parents of third-to-fifth graders or so, their kids, who are all upset about this (and they do talk in the class, on the bus, at others homes) are asking a lot of questions about their safety.

Wow. Your 9-yr-old and the rest of your family need a strong regimen of psychtropic drugs if "mininum-to-none" exposure to the story is causing susbstantial concerns. I have 2 grade-school kids, and the only way I can imagine them worrying about their safety is if dad does an endless drama-queen routine about the shootings in their presence.

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on April 20, 2007 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

The killings at VT affect me the same way as the killngs in Iraq. There is one big difference, though, all Americans have some level of responsibility for crimes committed by their government and military. Some Americans may be somewhat culpable for what happened at VT because of their stance on gun controls, but most feel no responsibility for what happened there, so they have an unencumbered empathy for the victims. Many Americans feel no responsibilty whatsoever about the events in Iraq, but we are all guilty in some measure.

Posted by: Brojo on April 20, 2007 at 2:51 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, and I agree that I think it stems from 9/11 and the political capital that Giuliani, Bush, and the pro-Bush media wanted to build from it. We're still in that era, so it's still going strong.

Here in NYC I couldn't believe the number of people who seemed to think they could have been victims because they were once in the World Trade Center. I always pointed out that the first plane hit at 8:45 am and the second at 9am and that unless they actually worked there, they were never even hypothetically at risk.

I think it's an aspect of the whole chickenhawk phenonmenon: if you can prove your courage by putting someone else in harm's way, you can show your finer feelings by pretending something horrific affected you when it didn't. Then you get to milk your victimhood the way chickenhawks get to glory in their courage.

Posted by: Diana on April 20, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I've railed against this tendency for decades...even on the local level, as you have, when cute white girls go missing.

The best movies draw you in and make you feel like you're part of the experience. News stories are nothing more than movies to people who *aren't* directly involved.

On the other hand, even peripheral involvement in a tragedy can amplify their impact in strange ways. 9/11 occurred a week after I'd visited the Financial Quarter for the first time, on vacation...and as I sat in my office listening to live feeds of people screaming and fleeing that morning, the creepiness quotient was clearly much higher for me than it was for my coworkers (most of whom looked like they were on the verge of saying "We're under attack?....COOL!!!!!!")

Stuff like this is depressing, frightening, and as Cho himself demonstrated when he cited Harris and Klebold, can plant undesireable memes in susceptible people.

What's the answer? Well, if we were really living in a free society, anyone who didn't want to hear about this story could use missles to take out Earth's communications satellites.

I wonder if anyone would?

Sincerely,

theperegrine

Posted by: theperegrine on April 20, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

We'll know all is good when the music buffers before and after commercial breaks on MSNBC and CNN change back.

Posted by: Fred on April 20, 2007 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

This is a media problem. One of the many things the media feel they must do to earn their viewers and readership is to "feel your pain". It's just as important as pushing "the narrative".

The news media cannot simply report anymore. They have to be part of the story.

Posted by: bob on April 20, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

Yes.

But, speaking of being traumatized....

I am looking forward to the day when I can handpick my news. Because, while I am only naturally saddened by something like Virginia Tech, stories of things happening to young children can induce signs of traumatic stress in me for days. Those of you can't watch horror movies know what I mean. I know that bad things happen to children every day. But the news is already being selective in what it reports of those things. I don't care to be having a nice day and then through channel flipping have that all crash down.

I look forward to customizing my news someday, so that it will only inform me of rapes or child-related crimes when they occur within several miles of my house. Cases concerning national personalities I might have it report to me once. Cases that have been consistently in the news for several weeks might also get one mention. Yearly statistical surveys would also be welcomed.

I don't want to be ill-informed. But the media already skews these things. Why not set up a camera in a market in Iraq, film the next killing, and then track down all of the families of the people who died and learn more about them? Since that kind of killing has been happening repeatedly "under our watch" surely it deserves as much attention?

Posted by: catherineD on April 20, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

too much VT coverage for your taste? simple solution. tune it out and find something else. can't find something else on tv? then pick up a newspaper or this month's copy of the washington monthly for that matter it ain't called the market place of ideas for nothing.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 20, 2007 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

I agree that it's well past time to ratchet down the coverage of VT, but I take issue with condemning people for feeling remorse. I think it's a natural reaction. Anyone who has spent time on a college campus can relate to it in some way, even if only to say, "what if that had happened on my campus?". Or anyone who has had a child go off to college can empathize with the parents of the victims. I don't see that part of it as a bad thing.

Posted by: MeLoseBrain? on April 20, 2007 at 3:15 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry for feeding the troll, but to reply to Al, one distinction between a tragic event like the Virginia Tech shootings and the death of soldiers in Iraq is that one is a random, tragic occurance that is only mildly subject to public policy, and the other involves policy choices of our elected representatives and consequences for people who serve the country in the armed forces. By no means am I saying that the news should not report on the Virginia Tech shootings, but at some point, what should be allowed to be a personal tragedy for the people who are immediately affected becomes a spectacle used to generate ratings in an if-it-bleeds-it-leads news industry. The deaths of soldiers in Iraq, in addition to being private tragedies for their families and friends, are also matters of public interest, so that citizens can be aware of the impact of the war.

I agree that the phenomenon of borrowed trauma is maddening. I mean, I guess I can see the appeal it might have for some people - maybe it speaks to some sort of alienation that people have that they seek to cling to these kinds of tragedies as things that bring them together in national grieving. But whatever it is, it doesn't seem healthy.

Bad things happen in the world, and we can in humanity feel very sorry for those whose lives are affected by tragedy (including those for whom events that don't directly affect them exacerbate previous traumas). But the symbiosis between Summer of the Shark-type media feeding frenzies and social tendencies in some quarters to wallow in borrowed trauma seems really problematic to me.

And yes, of course, we can turn off the news, but it's certainly fair to ask what is not being reported while the entire news team is in Blacksburg or wherever the latest missing blond woman was seen last, and to consider the issue of why this phenomenon is so prominent recently and what its implications are.

Posted by: Azelie on April 20, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

I couldn't agree more. Last summer I was at a conference in the midwest and I heard a bunch of midwesterners blathering about how they travelled to the the very first of these conferences in the scary October after 9/11. They actually got on planes!

I gave feedback after the conference describing what it was really like - nightly crowds of firemen lining up outside funeral homes, memorial services for close friends, neighbors and family of friends, being startled by patrol cars in unexpected places - and the smell, that awful smell.

Posted by: gr8flmo on April 20, 2007 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

I'm so oversaturated with the VT shootings coverage I can't even bring myself to comment further on this post about it. It's pathological how the media gets fixated. Posted by: ExBrit

Agreed, and this from someone who never watches television news, local or national, if I can avoid it. But I have been hitting the channel changer in the car a lot in the last few days as even NPR has had way too much coverage as well.

If they talk to another "psychiatric professional," I'm going to need help.

BTW, in case I missed it up thread, today is the anniversary of the Colombine killings. Hitler's birthday as well.

Posted by: JeffII on April 20, 2007 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage.

So then... can I talk about what's been bothering me most?

How in the fuck did this guy make it into his senior year as an English major with writing skills like that?

I mean really...
There are trolls that write better than this guy.

Posted by: ROTFLMLiberalAO on April 20, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

About 10 years ago my boss was killed by her husband. The next day at work there were grief counselors all over the place. I was shocked by the murder, but I had only been working there for about 6 months and I didn't really know my boss that well, but I was hounded to go to grief counseling anyway. I resisted -- more hounding. Finally I went just to quiet the hounding, and instead of talking about my boss I found myself talking about what a crappy place it was to work and how I hated my job. I ended up quitting 3 months later.

Posted by: Leroy on April 20, 2007 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage. There's a point where genuine empathy turns into artifice, an attempt to loudly and publicly demonstrate our continued empathy bona fides rather than a genuine demonstration of empathy itself, and I think we passed that point some time ago.

Yes, thanks very much, Kevin.

Posted by: Swan on April 20, 2007 at 3:54 PM | PERMALINK

From the linked article:
"...Yet President Bush — who refuses to attend the funerals of soldiers killed in Iraq because that might "politicize" the war his administration started — ordered all federal flags at half-staff and rushed to Blacksburg to bemoan the "day of sadness for the entire nation."


This touches on something that I've noticed lately. It seems there are just as many days that flags are being flown half staff as not. Not only that but one business, or school (i.e.), has theirs half-staff while others are not. What is going on?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 20, 2007 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

The Washington Monthly is a great magazine, but Kevin Drum's comment is an example of the tin ear it sometimes displays when it tries to cover a DC local issue.

Posted by: Mike on April 20, 2007 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

Uli Kunkel: Dial down the snark, please.

This is a real issue for parents.

Posted by: MaxGowan on April 20, 2007 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

Are there any decent Grief Counselors in the Pacific Northwest? Often, following trying to read the rambles of Egbert or Faux Lib, I find myself wandering around the garden, saying, over and over, "Oh good grief".

And, yes it will a splendid day once again when Burger King can fly the flag at full staff.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 20, 2007 at 4:18 PM | PERMALINK

MaxGowan: "This is a real issue for parents."

Only for the lunatic ones. I feel sorry for your kid.

Then again, you might be a parody, in which case I say "Well done, and so long."

Posted by: Uli Kunkel on April 20, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

a similar point made somewhat inelegantly here:

http://unconquerablegladness.blogspot.com/2007/04/simon-cowell.html

Posted by: ope on April 20, 2007 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK
It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage.

It's get dialed down when TV finds its next topic for round the clock, over-emotional coverage. That's the way it works. There isn't enough "news", at least of the type that grabs eyeballs and sells ads, for the amount of TV news time any other way, and TV isn't really a good media for reporting dry information, its good at create a false sense of proximity and gripping emotion, so that's what TV news does.

There's a reason that—even before the 24-hour cable news networks—studies have shown for decades that the more TV news people watch, all other things being equal, the less informed about current events they tend to be. TV "news" is about emotion not information.

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2007 at 4:36 PM | PERMALINK

The news industry commodifies violence and tragedy. It's a form of pornography insofar as it exploits human suffering for commercial gain.

Posted by: JB on April 20, 2007 at 4:37 PM | PERMALINK

Uli Kunkel: Dial down the snark, please. This is a real issue for parents. Posted by: MaxGowan

I second Uli. Your kid(s)either have crappy teachers or watch a lot more television than you'd like to admit to. Our preternaturally intelligent nine year-old hasn't mentioned the shooting once, and that's with two local lock down/copycat incidents within the last 72-hours.

Posted by: JeffII on April 20, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

I'm a NoVa resident, and I'm going to have to side with the other NoVA commenters; the WaPo is our local paper, and this has hit us all very hard. One of the girls graduated from my old high school, WSHS, and Westfield is very close by too. It brings it very close to home for us. Two of my closest friends have little brothers currently attending VTech. Luckily they're all right. A little more empathy with your east coast readers would be appreciated.

Posted by: Joe on April 20, 2007 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Rather, it's media-driven.

Disagree. I think it's vicitim-driven. As in, there is no higher status you can have in modern America than Victim (see hos, nappy-headed). So when something like this happens, everyone rushes to claim some victim status for themselves, lest they be left out of the "oh dear, how awful for you" slurp-fest.

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2007 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

Joe, I'm not being snarky here, I am genuinely concerned here - is there any popular support among Virginians for tightening up VA gun laws in the wake of this?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 20, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

Blue Girl, we're not even talking about gun laws yet. Way too soon. But I'm guessing this won't have changed anybody's minds on either side of the gun laws issue.

Posted by: Joe on April 20, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin: "It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage."

Not so long as there are sundry White House scandals to bump off the front page, it isn't.

Hell, even with Alberto Gonzales' appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee and that bloody series of deadly bombings in Baghdad, it was still very much the lead story on MSCNNABCS most of yesterday.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 20, 2007 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

Thank goodness there's some sense of proportion somewhere. Of course, if you know someone who was murdered or wounded, you feel shock, trauma and sorrow. However, if you merely went to school there some time in the last five decades, walked across their campus or whathaveyou, then your entitled to feel that frisson of thank goodness it was another time, but not trauma. And if you don't know them, have never been there and its all vicarious and you feel trauma, then you're just a selfish egoist who can't let anyone else be the center of attention for even one minute

Posted by: Kija on April 20, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's get dialed down when TV finds its next topic for round the clock, over-emotional coverage. That's the way it works. Posted by: cmdicely

Damn straight! We need Lindsay and Britney to get drunk at some club and have a fight during which Louisiana trailer trash Britney pulls a knife on Lindsay, and then is tasered by one of Paris' bodyguards. And, of course, all of them have "gone commando" again that night.

Posted by: JeffII on April 20, 2007 at 5:06 PM | PERMALINK

the news industry commodifies (sic) violence and tragedy? it exploits human suffering for commercial gain? please. tell me what human activity isn't "exploited" for commercial gain. one person's tragedy is always another's gain in some way. even rescue workers, doctors, nurses, lawyers embalmers get paid.

now, i'll agree there's too much "if it bleeds, it leads" mentality especially on local television, but that's 1) a reflection of the audience 2) laziness on the part of tv news staffs 3) a lack of creativity on the part of tv news staffs. again, if you don't like it, don't watch. write a letter.

jb, would you not have the media cover darfur, iraq, afghanistan etc.? where do you draw the line between what you call exploitation and legitimate coverage.

i'll also agree that events like VT displace news coverage but that's always true. one day's front page news story always get buried inside by an event that happens to be more important in an editor's opinion. but events still get covered. i managed to listen to npr's coverage gonzalez's testimony in the senate the other day despite all the VT coverage.

i'll even agree to an extent with kevin's original posting about grief as an industry. but it's our choice as to what we watch or read.

Posted by: mudwall jackson on April 20, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

TV news makes money from terrible events. They capture a lot of eyeballs with coverage of events like Columbine and VT and then they milk it for every possible interest. They encourage shock and awe because it is good business. They are not the only ones. I heard there were entrepreneurs buying google ad placement for massacre and VT right after the news broke.

The fact that opposition to gun control has bipartisan support makes it unlikely anything will be done to prevent another similar act. We will all be shocked and the news will receive great ratings the next time it happens, but a political solution to prevent distraught people from obtaining lethal weapons will probably not be forthcoming.

Posted by: Brojo on April 20, 2007 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

craigie: "I think it's vicitim-driven. As in, there is no higher status you can have in modern America than Victim (see hos, nappy-headed)."

That's good. Coach C. Vivian Stringer and her Rutgers University basketball team collectively drove the Don Imus story themselves, just so they could play the victim and wouldn't have to talk to the media about their astonishing run through the NCAA tournament all the way to Women's Final Four championship game.

OK, now I get it, finally -- you really ARE an asshole!

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 20, 2007 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

Mudwall Jackson,

Do not fully understand one of your last sentences - You said that you had listened to much of Gonzale's testimony via NPR's coverage - But, how could you manage that without some "Pundit" or Former Pert, er Ex-Pert, if you will, telling you what it meant???? (Sorry, Mudwall, I really do not believe that you needed any aid)

Why, the Grief Industry? Then, why all the Self-Help seminars? Why was EST so popular in CA a few years back? Why do people go to the race track and have to rely on some "Tout" for advice? Or bettors during the football season, who can not make a bet, unless they watch some "Guru" give them his "Best Bet of the Year"?

Why this need in so many to have to rely on someone else to direct their thoughts, beliefs and life decisions? It reminds me of 92 and hearing so many yearning for a "leader" to take charge of this nation. No wonder, we are a nation of sheep.

And now, I must go to the video store - Oh, what doooooo the critics say????

Posted by: thethirdPaul on April 20, 2007 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

This is closely related to the industry of white women in distress, which is closely related to soap operas in general. The problem with the tragedy industry--is that it shows losers that all they have to do to become famous, and heros to other losers, is come up with a plan where they get to decide who lives and who dies. This is frankly: fucked. Deny these people their ego tripping pay-off, and maybe these rampages would seem less attractive.

Posted by: c4logic on April 20, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

it's our choice as to what we watch or read.

It is our choice to watch TV, but not our choice of what is on. That is chosen by programmers, an interesting word to describe people who determine what will be available to you to watch if you decide to. This is one difference between broadcast media and the internet. Broadcast media has limited content choices that are chosen to maximize the amount of viewers and listeners for paying advertisers, who rely on mass consumption for revenue. Print and the internet provides almost unlimited choices for its users from individuals creating content for revenues that usually come from the actual individual users.

Programmers choose content to frame outlooks and attitudes of their viewers. They are like computer programmers, manipulating bits of data to affect the collective mind.

Posted by: Brojo on April 20, 2007 at 5:42 PM | PERMALINK

I emphatically agree. For years I have been bemoaning the apparent greed for emotion which news reporters display when interviewing victioms of tragedy. Questions like "how did you feel when you saw your child fall under the wheels of the moving car?" send a chill up my spine. It begins to appear that these newscasters perceive a need on the part of their viewers to see ever more and more emotional displays when in fact no such need exists. We want to be allowed to have our own feelings of sadness, not have it scripted for us.

Posted by: Barnesie on April 20, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

QWSQWSQWS
QW
Bush Defends Iraq War; Republicans Blast Harry Reid for Saying Fight Is 'Lost'

Posted by: QWSQWS on April 20, 2007 at 5:52 PM | PERMALINK

Hear hear!
I couldn't agree more. I'm afraid we'll have at least 2 more weeks of cho-heavy media coverage though----unless the Baldin-Basinger fight turns nuclear.

Posted by: Marky on April 20, 2007 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

The Baldwin audio I heard on TV was accompanied by editorial content. The audio might be amusing or appalling to those who would listen to it as a file on the intertubes, but it is the weight of comment on a mass medium that gives it so much more meaning. In this case, the editorial meaning was Baldwin is on the verge of becoming an abusive parent. I did not think it merited broadcast.

What I heard was an angry father. I do not think anger is necessarily bad, but the way the comment was framed, one would think Baldwin was an unfit parent. I do not think anyone can make that case from the less than two minutes of audio alone, but some TV programmer did.

Posted by: Brojo on April 20, 2007 at 6:07 PM | PERMALINK

Well Al, the casualties in Iraq, both American and Iraqi, are a liberal concern, but not evidence of our hypocrisy. The VT shooter didn't kill people in my name but my government (of, by, and for, remember) does it daily, and isn't usually very truthful, even about the circumstances of the deaths.
I'm a high school teacher and I never saw students indulge in this widespread public and expressive grieving before Columbine. School districts must be concerned about risk management and control of their legal liabilities. To be found negligent in a recurrence of such an event is quite a motivater. So they host mass memorials and kids knash teeth and rent clothing, especially if there's a tv crew on campus.
But the mob psych phenomenon is, I think, what we used to call media freaking, and for upper middle class suburban America is is becoming a socially acceptable version of being on Jerry Springer. This is not to trivialize the grief and trauma of those in actual proximity or connection, but to point out again the trivialization of that authentic grief of family and friends when a theatrical indulgence of those really not close to the people or events pushes all other headlines off the page.

Posted by: bulacharles on April 20, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, fellow victims of Bush Cheney & Associates, Ltd.! I've got some news that will make you feel a little better:

BREAKING NEWS | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (April 20, 2007)
Vermont Senate adopts resolution seeking impeachment of Bush, Cheney

MONTPELIER, Vt. — Vermont senators voted Friday to call for the impeachment of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, saying their actions have raised "serious questions of constitutionality."

The nonbinding resolution was approved 16-9 without debate _ all six Republicans in the chamber at the time and three Democrats voted against it.

Bush and Cheney's actions in the U.S. and abroad, including in Iraq, "raise serious questions of constitutionality, statutory legality, and abuse of the public trust," the resolution reads.

The Vermont Senate is believed to be the first state chamber in the country to pass such a resolution, said Bill Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Conference of State Legislatures.

"Many chambers passed resolutions about the war in Iraq, but none that we are aware have called for impeachment," he said.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on April 20, 2007 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

One of these states is going to pass one of these and send it on to Washington. (I thought it would be New Mexico, myself)

When they do, it will be received and taken up - Keith Ellison is in the House now, and he sponsored the legislation as a Minnesota state legislator.

If a home-state rep doesn't sponsor it, Ellison will.

(The entire mechanism is explained in the link I provided.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 20, 2007 at 6:49 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, fellow victims of Bush Cheney & Associates, Ltd.! I've got some news that will make you feel a little better:

BREAKING NEWS | THE ASSOCIATED PRESS (April 20, 2007) Vermont Senate adopts resolution seeking impeachment of Bush, Cheney Posted by: Donald from Hawaii

It was proposed in the Washington State Senate by a freshman Dem yesterday, but did not come to a vote. The gallery was full of right-minded folk chanting "Impeach, impeach."

Sadly, some jackass Rethug, a Vietnam vet yet, blah, blahed about how we'd be giving up our freedom, etc. if we left Iraq now. I swear for some of these idiots the last four of five years just haven't happened. You gotta wonder if someone gives that reason for not seeking impeachment (which, admittedly, state legislatures have no authority for), just how stupid do his or her supporters have to be? More of the 30% dead enders, I guess.

Posted by: JeffII on April 20, 2007 at 6:52 PM | PERMALINK

Brojo sure is pitching up the softballs tonight: "All of us share repsonsibility for the Iraq war." "What I heard was an angry father." The fact that the irony is lost on him makes it even funnier. Sort of.

Posted by: Pat on April 20, 2007 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

Actually, per the Jefferson's Manual, states do have a vested interest.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on April 20, 2007 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

I am playing softball tonight.

Posted by: Brojo on April 20, 2007 at 7:08 PM | PERMALINK

Just want to point out that you can still possibly be "saved" if you're not baptized. Well, as long as you die as a child.

Think you count as a student?

Eternal damnation for the rest of us. And you think the fanatics are "over there"?

Posted by: notthere on April 20, 2007 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Excuse me?

Convincing ourselves that we've been vicariously traumatized by the pain of strangers has become a cherished national pastime.

She seems to claim that, we waste not a tear drop on 9/11 and that Kartina was just somebody else's nightmare!!

I think not, it's was really another major awful thing that nobody thinks thought. How do we prevent another one? Another 9/11, another Katrina, another Virgina Tech.

That's like saying dail down the Iraq war after all it's merely the pain of others, but I don't think so. The last damn thing I want to do is dial it down.


Posted by: Cherykl on April 20, 2007 at 7:15 PM | PERMALINK

Agreed. However, it also the cable media, which has too many hours of the day and not enough stories.

Posted by: Tyler on April 20, 2007 at 7:21 PM | PERMALINK

Where can I get support in my grief over the 200 people who were gunned down in Baghdad that day?

Posted by: Bonnie on April 20, 2007 at 7:23 PM | PERMALINK

OK, now I get it, finally -- you really ARE an asshole!

Well, maybe, but I doubt it. I may be a card-carrying liberal and Bush-hater, but that doesn't mean I can't agree with most of this post.

Which is what my remark meant. If that makes me an asshole, well, whoopsie.

Posted by: craigie on April 20, 2007 at 7:34 PM | PERMALINK
Just want to point out that you can still possibly be "saved" if you're not baptized. Well, as long as you die as a child.

Actually, in Catholic doctrine, its been declared that non-baptised non-infants can be saved, long before Benedict's declaration concerning non-baptised infants.

See, for instance, Lumen Gentium (1964), the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, which says, “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience—those too may attain eternal salvation. Nor shall divine providence deny the assistance necessary for salvation to those who, without any fault of theirs, have not yet arrived at an explicit knowledge of God, and who, not without grace, strive to lead a good life.”

Posted by: cmdicely on April 20, 2007 at 7:46 PM | PERMALINK

It's just too bad Michael Medved wasn't there.

Too harsh?

Posted by: Kenji on April 20, 2007 at 8:19 PM | PERMALINK

Count me out. There's something fraudulent about this eagerness to latch onto the grief of others and embrace the idea that we, too, have been victimized.

Fair enough. Count her out. But the U.S. is made of lots of different sorts of people, and I don't think anyone of us speaks for many others. Every one has felt some sorrow over this event, and over the events of 9/11, and the killings in Ruanda, Darfur, and Iraq. I don't think it's very wise for someone to judge for everyone else exactly how much sorrow is exactly right.

Posted by: spider on April 20, 2007 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

Where can I get support in my grief...

Someday the killing will stop. I hope it ends soon.

Posted by: Brojo on April 20, 2007 at 9:22 PM | PERMALINK

There's one word for what our 24/7 news does and that is maudlin.

When I listen to a 10-minute news item on the local news about VA Tech and don't learn one new thing, then, it isn't news. News is supposed to be "new". Now, it's all brainwashing.

Posted by: Mazurka on April 20, 2007 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK

This topic sucks.

Posted by: Sebastian-PGP on April 20, 2007 at 10:56 PM | PERMALINK

"...Programmers choose content to frame outlooks and attitudes of their viewers. They are like computer programmers, manipulating bits of data to affect the collective mind..."
Posted by: Brojo on April 20, 2007 at 5:42 PM

Absolutely. Here's a snip of Paddy Chayefsky's "Network":

"I'm interested in doing a weekly dramatic series based on the Ecumenical Liberation Army. The way I see the series is: Each week we open with an authentic act of political terrorism taken on the spot, in the actual moment. Then we go to the drama behind the opening film footage. That's your job, Ms. Hobbs. You've got to get the Ecumenicals to bring in that film footage for us. The network can't deal with them directly; they are, after all, wanted criminals.
:::
:::

Laureen Hobbs: Don't fuck with my distribution costs! I'm making a lousy two-fifteen per segment and I'm already deficiting twenty-five grand a week with Metro! I'm paying William Morris ten percent off the top, and I'm giving this turkey ten thou per segment, and another five to this fruitcake! And Helen, don't start no shit about UBS again! I'm paying Metro twenty-thousand for all foreign and Canadian distribution, and that's after recoupment! The communist party's not gonna see a nickel out of this goddamn show until we go into syndication!
Helen Miggs: C'mon Laurene. The party's in for seventy-five hundred a week of the production expenses.
Laureen Hobbs: I'm not giving this pseudoinsurrectionary sectarian a piece of my show! I'm not giving him script approval, and I sure as shit ain't gotten him into my distribution charges!
Mary Ann Gifford: [screaming] You fucking fascist! Did you see the film we made of the San Reno jail breakout, demonstrating the rising of the seminal prisoner class infrastructure?
Laureen Hobbs: You can blow the seminal prisoner class infrastructure out your ass! I'm not knockin' down my goddamn distribution charges!
Great Ahmed Kahn: [fires off his gun through the ceiling] Man, give her the FUCKING overhead clause. Let's get back to page twenty-two, number 5, small 'a'. Subsidiary rights. "

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on April 20, 2007 at 11:12 PM | PERMALINK

Someone said on another thread that NBC and MSNBC showed the tapes to improve ratings.

Well, it must not have worked - BillO thanked the FAUX viewers tonight for making FAUX the number 1 rated channel in VTech viewing - Lots of class there BillO cheering for FAUX being Numero Uno in Ghoul Viewing. Next he'll be thanking Cho for Sweeps Week.

Posted by: thethirdPaulb on April 20, 2007 at 11:58 PM | PERMALINK

But what about Anna Nichole Smith? There's been no mention of her lately, thank G*d.

Posted by: merlallen on April 21, 2007 at 7:23 AM | PERMALINK

So when something like this happens, everyone rushes to claim some victim status for themselves, lest they be left out of the "oh dear, how awful for you" slurp-fest.
Posted by: craigie

Just so. About VT? No. All about ME ME ME! The Diana pattern.

But if I were Jeff, I'd be concerned that a 9 year old who doesn't mention this school shooting isn't harboring some very real fears.

I'd think there are ways to talk to your children about terrible things like this which emphasize how remote these terrors really are as a day-to-day experience in a nation with 300M inhabitants.

Rational apprehension of dangers is necessary; fear is not. - Bertrand Russell

Posted by: MsNThrope on April 21, 2007 at 7:27 AM | PERMALINK

This post reminds me of how fortunate I am to have access the the web and the numerous sources of information it provides. How horrible it would be to have to rely upon my hometown newspaper and cable TV.

I look with a bit of horror upon the people who spend large quantities of time watching cable coverage of anything. The Fox News addicts are the saddest.

Posted by: little ole jim from red country on April 21, 2007 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

It's well past time to dial down the Virgina Tech coverage.

Hey, If It Bleeds, It Leads! And if it stops bleeding, kick it a few times to restart the flow...

Posted by: Doozer on April 21, 2007 at 11:13 AM | PERMALINK

People want to feel special.

It's the secret of life.

Not BE special, mind you. That's too arduous for most.

But FEEL special.

It's why you guys waste your time posting on blogs, among other things.

Posted by: TruthTeller on April 21, 2007 at 11:38 AM | PERMALINK

Folks talking about state led impeachment drive:

Raw Story reported that Kucinich will introduce articles of impeachment against Cheney next week.

Posted by: Disputo on April 21, 2007 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Btw, craigie, anyone who refers to Jackson and Sharpton as "professional race pimps" is a racist, pure and simple. That someone can admit that Imus' language of "nappy-headed hos" is racist, and than throw out that kind of rhet, in addition to being racist, is delusional.

Posted by: Disputo on April 21, 2007 at 1:03 PM | PERMALINK

While Jefferson's Manual generally still applies to the House in instances where its rules are silent on a subject, the idea that articles of impeachment introduced by a Member, or a petition or memorial calling for impeachment (even one introdued by a Member), triggers impeachment is simply untrue. The chamber has the discretion to act on it or not, in the same way they do with introduced legislation. It gets referred to committee and there it will sit. Sorry, guys.

Posted by: Pat on April 21, 2007 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

This topic sucks.

Thought you were banned, you pathetic loser. If you don't like the topic, you certainly aren't being forced to comment on the thread. Of course, in your case, someone probably does have a gun to your head and is forcing you to interact with others.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on April 21, 2007 at 4:55 PM | PERMALINK

I have admit when I saw the links on WaPo for "the Lives Lost" I thought that was over the top. But with my views on things that I feel would do me more harm than good, I simply didn't click on it. I'm like an earlier commenter in that I really can't watch horror movies. It really pains me to know that pain and suffering happen. So when I heard what happened I just sat down and cried. And I thought, "why am I crying". I don't know any of those people.
I did spend time in Blacksburg years ago when I was in school in KY. It's a beautiful serene place; like so many other places in this country that I used to Know. But like Lee Iacocca, I don't recognize this country any more. I think I've been on edge and depressed about this and Iraq and apathy, authoritarian Bushies and all the rest of it. VT was like the proverbial straw that broke the camels back. I cried. I got over it. That's normal. Now I can go back to my "human condition", waiting and hoping for better days.

PS
I am glad I read these comments because I now realize that the WaPo is the hometown paper so I guess the links etc were appropriate. On the other hand as others have noted the MSM in general profits on keeping us all scared and thinking we're victims.

Posted by: Peter Collins on April 21, 2007 at 11:14 PM | PERMALINK

too much VT coverage for your taste? simple solution. tune it out and find something else. can't find something else on tv? then pick up a newspaper or this month's copy of the washington monthly for that matter it ain't called the market place of ideas for nothing.

I tried to watch the TV news last night. All VT coverage. I wanted to know what else was going on in the world, five and a half days after the VT shootings, but shit out of luck. Pick up a newspaper? On Saturday night? I wanted to know what had happened during the day.

Sometimes, at the top of the hour, you just want to click your remote and catch up on the news for 15 minutes, instead of going online or picking up a month-old magazine or a newspaper full of yesterday's news.

It's appropriate, I suppose, to have wall-to-wall coverage for an entire week on local broadcast stations and newspapers in Virginia and maybe D.C. But at this point, with nothing new to add, this story doesn't deserve 24-hour-a-day coverage on national networks, to the exclusion of other news.

There's no comparison with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. That was a political act that killed more than 3,000 people in multiple locations. The VT shootings are a local story. Yes, it's the worst mass shooting by a civilian on U.S. soil. Keep bring that up, that it's a record. Records are made to be broken, and the more you talk about this record, the more you're encouraging the next madman to aim for a bigger body count.

And if your grade-school kid is freaked out about this, you really need to turn off the TV and radio and stop talking about it. You're not doing anyone any favors by filling your kid with anxiety. You know what my fifth-grade son was obsessed with this week? The release, this morning, of Pokemon Diamond and Pearl for the Nintendo DS. Like most well-adjusted kids with responsible parents, he's aware of the VT shootings and he knows that it has nothing to do with him.

Posted by: Queequeg on April 22, 2007 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

This is off topic, but, being a huge Democrat and a huge supporter of ACORN and other equal economic opportunity organizations, why in the world are we Democrats not taking the FairTax and running with it?
I've had several fellow party members tell me that it is regressive and preys on the poor. Unfortunately, I believe they are misinformed. In actuality, the FairTax reimburses all U.S. citizens up to the poverty line and it brings more jobs to American soil! What gives?
Are'nt we the party of social justice? Don't we condemn the other side for protecting the interests of U.S. social elites too often? This is a chance for American's to finally shed a regressive tax structure. I employ anyone reading to research what I have said, see it for yourself, and then put pressure on our leaders to make a change for the better!
http://www.fairtax.org

DW
dw2777@uab.edu

Posted by: DavidW on April 22, 2007 at 10:49 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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