Invasion of Inhumanity

By: pbcmedia

May 22 2008

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Category: 1, cancer, Culture, Events, Family, Friends, Frustration, Health, Life, Media, Personal, Photography, Random, Rants and Raves, writing


Focal Length:5.8mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon PowerShot SD850 IS

Anyone who has had cancer or a family member or friend who has heard that diagnosis at any point in their life knows one thing: you need time to take it in. You don’t process all the information all at once.

I walked through Harvard Yard today with the luxury of not one soul knowing I was there. I walked past them anonymously, just an observer. Some were lost in conversations with their companions or colleagues; others walked with boxes toward a van. Graduation tents were being raised. One carried a newspaper with the headline: “KENNEDY HAS MALIGNANT TUMOR; PROGNOSIS IS UNCERTAIN AT BEST”.

The Massachusetts local media and the national media have lost their collective minds–gone crazy–no, I mean it–Brittany crazy on our 76 year old US Senator.

It is inconceivable to me that these reporters, writers, photographers, have not had cancer strike in one of their own family members or extended family or even themselves. Do they think they or their family members would appreciate having anonymous medical doctors talking about their grim future 24/7 on TV and in newspapers?

Do they feel no responsibility to allow this man, this family, to hear the information at their own pace? To allow them to decide when to ask the questions, not when Wolf Blitzer decides to ask Dr. Sanjay Gupta? Is our national security depending on us getting the big picture on his health?

As I left home this morning, Senator Kennedy left the hospital with his family, waving thumbs up, to the crowd that gathered. A State Trooper vehicle accompanied him home, along with a media helicopter.

I got home in time to listen to Emily Rooney, daughter of Andy Rooney of CBS, discussing on her show, “Greater Boston” on the local PBS station, the “politics” of his diagnosis on the upcoming election and speculation about the senate seat that “might” be opening up.

W.H. Auden wrote of suffering happening as other people live their lives–opening a window, eating,  or walking dully along in Harvard Yard.. (OK, I added “Harvard Yard”).  Senator Kennedy may have lost his privacy years ago but the media today has added to his suffering by losing its humanity–and what’s worse—they don’t seem to know it.

Hmm..let me see?  What might the treatment options be for that?

©Pat Coakley 2008


14 comments on “Invasion of Inhumanity”

  1. Yup. That post just about nails it.

    We, as a nation… perhaps as a world, have become obsessed with getting all the info all the time. Unfortunately, the info crammed down our collective throats is all to often this type of personal, prying, frankly voyeuristic garbage.

    I feel that the fact that the Senator is sick is valid news. He is a public official and there will be ramifications that will have wide ranging effects. HOWEVER, the information we need to know ends right about there. I don’t want to see computer generated image of what a brain tumor looks like. I don’t want to hear a retrospective on his life. What I want is to get the news that is fact and then leave all the lurid fascination in another man’s suffering and family on the way side. It’s none of our business.

    I have many, many opinions that are very different than Senator Kennedy’s. In short, I’m not a fan. I do however feel that everyone deserved the dignity of privacy in situations like this. For what it’s worth, I wish him the best and hope that he gets a medical prognosis that is favorable.

    Turkish Prawn

  2. “voyeuristic garbage”

    Hear! Hear!

    Unfortunately the media just reflects the market they cater to.

    There are times when I’m waiting in line at the supermarket and I see people put one of those trashy celebrity mags into their trolley, that I just want to snatch it out and roll it up and smack them on the head with it repeatedly while yelling at them to lift their intellectual game and get a life.

    Luckily my super ego gets my id in a “full nelson” before I get a chance to act on my criminal impulse.

    Gotta go and breathe into a paper bag for a while now……

  3. Medical info is a private matter. The media has no right to take this inherent right away. It was disgusting how the media acted like Sen. Kennedy was already a goner. Unbelievable.

  4. Right on.

    Celebrity of any kind has gone awry.

    I hate having to watch the news and hear about what Tom Cruise or the Olsen twins are doing. It’s ridiculous.

  5. “Unfortunately the media just reflects the market they cater to.” Sure that is the case but more importantly it is about sales, what will sell a newspaper… its even in Spiderman and Superman for that matter… both go hand in hand and in turn a nation believes. The media are a joke, if you want to have fun read the front page of any newspaper, it’s like a mensa maze – you have to filter fact from fiction, it can be quite entertaining… they wonder what is happening to the world *shrug*

    Great post, surprisingly enough we have not heard about this poor mans illness here, we normally “hear” everything else – America makes our front pages often … another *shrug*

  6. First things first: Just because I would want to know where on earth Sanity was from after reading “we have not heard about this poor man’s illness here”..answer: South Africa. Yes. Imagine. The US is not the center of the universe.

    Razz: I think you’ve tapped into a global fantasy of “Celebrity Rag Wackin’ ” But, I’ll need a photo to truly appreciate your future post on following through with this criminal urge.

    Pomeroy: The Olsen Twins. Huh? Who? Case Closed. Is it the twin fantasy or what? Don’t tell Razz, but I saw a picture of them on one of “those” magazines in a supermarket and they look like starving cats wearing hats.

    Leafless and Turkish: amen.

  7. Maynard of Tool once wrote: “Vicariously I live while the whole world dies.” A reporter for a Dallas newspaper once wrote of our “morbid fascination for human tragedy.” We are blood-sucking voyeurs, and we are sick.

  8. Tydaddy, I can safely say that no one has ever quoted Maynard of Tool to me! So, I’m off to google Maynard and thank you for taking the time to comment. Pat

  9. It is unholy…I mean, we in Massachusetts know him…how dare they!! But the rest of the world doesn’t give a s–t. He’s in the category of our gods and godesses whose missteps, philanderings and faux neckties provide daily chatter. Centuries ago we would have been at the local water source chattering about….just talk…something we do….the Kennedy’s are cool enough, insulated enough that they just do what they’ve got to do….we only know what they permit us to know. We so need our heroes…

  10. You know, as someone who is dealing with a very tragic death of a mother, I can’t even imagine how the Kennedy family is taking all of this. I mean, to hear their loved one’s personal tragedy plastered on every newspaper is just…. mean.

    What ever is to be said for the Kennedy clan… like them or not, they have always been a very close knit family.

    I have to wonder where the lines are anymore? Where are people’s common decenty? Why are they so excited to hear of tragedy? Don’t they have enough of their own I wonder?

    Doesn’t it say something as who we have become that we read this trash? Personally, I don’t subscribe to any newspapers these days because of this kind of crap. I read my news online so that I might pick and choose the things that I feel are real news. There is a loss of integrity these days that just makes me sick to my stomach. How horrible. I wonder who the people are that enjoy the muck and mire of others.

    I just shrug my shoulders and pray. Pray for our enlightenment and the day that this type of behavior is no longer acceptable, and no longer monitarily marketable or desireable.

    Great post sweetie…. love the picture..

  11. Fantastic post.

    As a contributing member to the media, I am constantly thinking about my role — not to the readership, but to humanity. I turn down outlets I don’t respect, and I turn down stories I find either exploitative or without substance. I think it’s important to tell the stories, but people need to bear a responsibility – not just the writers, but the readers who keep buying the crap, too.

  12. You know, Maggie, it would have been a better post if I’d widened the net to include those of us who consume this “crap”. Now, that’s simply one of my favorite words. I yell, “Holy Crap!” when I see something I love and it covers the other end of the continuum as well.
    Thanks for visiting.

    Amber: am so glad you are back visiting. I’ve missed you!

    Joyce: let’s meet at the watering hole sometime soon, OK?

  13. Pat – Ill be visiting Boston soon.. Id love to meet up for a cup of coffee… :)

  14. You know, I don’t think I could handle sitting at a coffee table with both you and Amber, I think I’d laugh so much I’d make a spectacle of myself (not that I don’t already mind but lets not let the cat out the bag)… you two are funny, insightful and inspirational, I hope to meet you both one day when I escape the zoo with my pet lion called Simba!

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