Friday, December 15, 2006

Common Decency

For a while there, I was pretty sure there were no depths to which our current popular culture could not sink.

This was confirmed for me when the OJ book was announced.

But then a shocking thing happened, and it made me smile. We finally hit the point below which even a vulgarity-soaked American public would not go.

The public outcry caused Rupert Murdoch, of all people, to discover a sense of shame. He nixed this obscenity of a book and reined in the charlatan of a book publisher who'd engineered the whole damned circus.


But I think I was overly optimistic. The coverage of Senator Tim Johnson's collapse and subsequent brain surgery has been truly and dispiritingly abysmal.

I understand the importance of every vote in a Senate split 51-49. But simple common decency demands that, at least in the first few hours after a man is stricken, we not all publicly engage in guessing games about what will happen in the political horserace if he dies.

There's ample time for that when his condition is clearer. And absolutely nothing to gain from the folly of putting this cart before this particular horse so blatantly.

Let the Carvilles and Matalins and Roves and Emanuels of the world plot out all the possible variations and permutations of this political Rubik's cube in private, as they must - by the nature of their jobs and by their own idiosyncratic immersion in the 24/7 world of the Permanent Campaign.

But is there no way for the rest of us, the news media most definitely included, to agree to a moratorium on this worse-than-unseemly public reckoning while the man's still in surgery or just settling into ICU?

Obviously, a law about this would do way more harm than good. But it didn't take a law to deep-six OJ's latest travesty --- just sufficient public revulsion.

Maybe we can muster it again, to try to make sure no one else's family has to go through the grotesqueries that Tim Johnson's family have seen on every TV screen and front page since their private ordeal began.

I'm probably hoping for too much.

But how about this. Let's at least hope (and if so inclined pray) that he recovers well enough to make all this ghoulish public prognosticating moot. If public revulsion isn't enough now, maybe it will be when the "reporting" turns out to have been not only unspeakably inhumane, but pointless besides.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

SO TRUE. I thought about that last night while I watched the news. I wonder what his family would think if they saw that.