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Media, please leave Newtown, CT December 17, 2012

Posted by makingyourdashcount in death, ohio, Ohio Legislation, Ohio Politics, Uncategorized.
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When my brother died in 2001, it was a media circus.  They called us; they followed us with cameras. Tragically, it was front page news. But, it was local news, not an international headline.  The reporters’ questions still haunt me.  Remembering how there were people coaching me how to answer still haunts me.  The TV cameras outside the funeral service still haunt me. Media are slobs with the only intent to scoop salicious headlines for their respective front pages and prime time news. They hounded our family heavily for the first week to month, then less often until they had jucier things on which to report. By the time that we could have used Adam’s death for a cause, the media was gone.  Obviously, causes do not get ratings.

When Sarah died, a news helicopter circled the cemetary, as we buried her. One close friend approached the cameras in the parking lot of the synagogue where the funeral was being held and in no uncertain terms asked them to leave. We granted interviews to two newspapers; one of whom really didn’t want the story as we saw it.  Media are slobs. At the point when we were ready to use her death for a cause, they were gone.  Obviously, that was not as interesting nor as important for ratings.

So here we are with an international headline and certified tragedy. CNN has barely reported on the fiscal cliff since it unveiled. At least one local affiliate, from Columbus, Ohio, went to Connecticut to cover the slaughter. Really? What value added can he lend other than to circle like all of the other hawks from every other non-local local affiliate. I can not even imagine the pressure placed on these families to talk with them. It disgusts me.

A local facebook page posted something along the lines of, “We stand with the parents and children of Newtown, Ct.”  Well of course we do.  Only a callous psychopath wouldn’t.  That is a given. Some say let the families grieve. This is the time for collective grief.  Although some disagree with me, I think that the appropriate response to this tragedy is action, to ensure that it can not happen again. The media should be concentrating on the action, not the personal grief of those personally affected. Because people’s interest will feign and no one will be interested in talking about what could have been.

Our governor has a bill on his desk that no longer makes it  a crime to bring guns to the Statehouse parking areas running beneath the Capitol and then left in the owners’ vehicles.

 As Senate President Tom Niehaus explained, “We have many members who participate in shooting events or are maybe coming from hunting or going hunting after session,” Niehaus said. “So the difficulty becomes if you are coming in from a shooting event and you have a weapon in your car, there is no way right now for you to be able to come into the Statehouse parking garage.”

Um… really?

As long as citizens allow this kind of ridiculous logic to permeate our statehouses and our Capitol, we will stay an at risk society.

We are collectively shaken by this tragedy, but for a small minority we do know these families.  Most of us do not even know families in Connecticut, let alone Newtown.  I think that people are more sighing collective relief because, although shocking,  it did not happen to them. It happened to someone else.

So, media, leave Newtown, CT.  Instead concentrate locally on what can be done. Let’s look at the legislation, action and societal pressures that allow something like this to happen and ensure that it cannot happen again.  Then we will truly be paying these children the homage due.

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Restoring Sanity on the Washington Mall November 1, 2010

Posted by makingyourdashcount in intolerance, legislation, Ohio Politics, politics, Thoughts.
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“No problem, I am trying to quit, anyway.”  That response after a woman in line politely asked  the man in front of her to put out a cigarette was indicative of the experience at Comedy Central’s Rally for Sanity and/or Fear.  Young and old, probably more liberal than conservative, but as Jon Stewart pointed out “all with disposable income,” gathered on Washington’s Mall this weekend to… well, gather. We crammed onto the morning’s first metro train to get to the mall early enough to get a decent spot.  No problem.  We will get coffee and food once we get there. (Mistake)

Metaphoric sardines in a too small can, we got a great spot, in the second public section, by the Museum of the American Indian. The draw to DC to stop the bickering and shouting and have some intelligent civil conversation was a strong one for many.  Although the “official” estimate of the crowd was 215,000, the Washington Post reported

(DC) Metro officials said a new Saturday ridership record was set, with 825,437 trips taken. The average number of trips taken on a Saturday is about 350,000.

Hanging around the stage the day before, workers said that they planned for 150,000.  The permit was for 60,000, however the streets leading to the rally were filled with people who never got in, because there were just too many people. Gathered. For reasonableness.

I really did not have any expectations of this rally.  I knew it would be fun and entertaining;  it was Comedy Central.  It was not political, although there were smatterings of anti-teaparty and anti-CNN/MSNBC/FOX/ and even NPR news signs.  Peoples’ presence seemed to say,

We want our elected leaders to talk to each other to figure out solutions to our problems. There is middle ground on all issues; can’t we just find them?  And not yell?

Perhaps the root cause of this frustration is that we think we are electing leaders.  However to get reelected the politicians have to pander to groups who will financially support their next campaigns. To get re-elected politicians have to demonize their opponents because our society has become black and white with no one willing to commit to shades of grey until they are in their final term of office. Governance requires listening, consideration and compromise : all of which are missing from American politics.  Discussion means tuning out the 24 hours news talking heads and their name calling.

The signs seen at the rally seemed to reflect the desire to look past the emotional rhetoric, discuss facts and then work together to draw conclusions and make decisions.

Someone asked me how this rally compared to a rally that I attended in 2004 on the mall that was decidedly political.  My answer?  That one was empowering, it showed me the amplification of one voice when joined in harmony with others.  This rally?  It was reassuring.  I know that I can now sleep better tonight knowing that I stood with thousands of others for dialogue, that I am not the only one whose head feels ready to explode in this era of acerbic commentary and rash generalizations.  At the very least, it let me escape the cavalcade of meanness masquerading as politics until I vote on Tuesday.

As Jon Stewart mused,

If you amplify everything, no one hears anything.

It’s time for America to open her ears.

Postscript:

  1. Comedy Central:  next time plan for more people.    AND, instant coffee??    What were you thinking?  Ugh.
  2. There were lots of Ohioans there.  Wonder why.
  3. Of the thousands of people at the rally, I happened to stand in line for coffee with two women. Of these two friends, one grew up in Westerville, Ohio where I now live and the other knew someone that I did in her hometown of Casco, ME where I spent my childhood summers.  It is a small moderate world.

(Metro Statistics)  Maria Glod and Chris L. Jenkins, Malfunctioning escalator injures 4 at L’Enfant Plaza station ,Washington Post Staff Writers Sunday, October 31, 2010; 7:45 PM