Although I do not indulge in the ostentatious resuscitation of former and impending disasters that has become cable news, nonetheless I endeavor to remain abreast of current events. So it is that I, like the rest of America, am aware that someone by the name of John Karr has confessed to the 1996 murder of JonBenet Ramsey.
Leaving aside the specifics of this particular case, I am left wondering at what point individual tragedy became a spectator sport. There have always been violent people. I'm sure back in caveman times, there must have been a Cro-Magnon by the name of Grog who just couldn't deal with the stress of the daily hunt and decided to take his stone club to a few of his subterranean neighbors.
But although there have always been violent people, has there always been a market for this narrative, or are we just more degenerate than our predecessors? I admit I do not know the answer, though I suspect the reality is that our means simply provide us with a way to fulfill and even exceed our macabre interests to a degree unimagined by previous generations. Either way, violence on this scale, although undeniably unfortunate, should not be the subject of national interest.
To be sure, I do not mean to belitte the death of another human being. But really, nothing involving Scott Peterson or OJ Simpson or John Kerr is the least bit relevant to my life. National news should not become the aggregation of personal loss. It is a disservice to us, yes, and to the victims as well, who do not deserve to have their own grief aired for public examination.
Not only isn't it the proper subject upon which to focus national attention, but this fascination with individual incidents stems, I suspect, from voyeuristic and degenerate impulses. Unfortunately, we live in a society where the loss of life, although far from trivial, is nonetheless accepted. These reports serve to titillate, not to inform. They provide details, unnecessary and preferably intimate, their value increasing in relationship to their extremity.
Tragey is a spectator sport now. Popular, lucrative too, and completely unworthy of a humane society.