The headlines beg for you to read about the latest person arrested for bad choices. Admittedly, if it is a 50 year-old who has made bad choices over and over, they aren’t showing much interest in changing, but what about the people in these stories? I have a few issues with the articles I see that have been deemed “news” by someone.
First, I think about the person who has committed the crime. Some of the crimes are horrendous, but most of the ones I’ve read about recently are mistakes that happened because of the consumption of drugs and/or alcohol. When I was a younger person, I made some not so great choices, and as bad as the repercussions were, no one had to read about them in the headlines for a news outlet. It was painful enough all on its own. Are all of the mistakes people are making truly “news worthy”–or is it just a way to belittle people who get caught making bad choices, a way to make those not in trouble feel superior? I know plenty of people who haven’t gotten caught making even worse choices. The person caught in a crime has enough punishment—is it really our business to kick them when they’re down?
If YOU find it entertaining to read about the mistakes others are making, I think it would be a good time to look at yourself in the mirror? What is it in you that thrills at another person’s misfortunes? Why not make your own shortcomings your news for the afternoon?
Second, I think about the need to know. Even if the crime committed is a ‘bad’ crime, or the offender is a repeat offender, what good does it serve to publicize it? Our awareness of bad things in the neighborhood probably could happen without it being put on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media venues for ‘news’ organizations. In most cases, the law is taking care of the issues. If someone is being mistreated, then the public can be involved in the need to know. Journalism is not reporting trash and belittling individuals. Journalism is hard work to report worthwhile news. Journalism is more than spewing stories…it is taking the time to investigate and inform. It’s an art.
Third, and most importantly, the people being held out for the public to laugh at, to make fun of, to make jokes about are someone’s children. Every single one of them is someone’s child. Some mother, father, grandparent is reading the article, seeing the picture, reading the demeaning comments in social media and hiding their face as their child/grandchild is treated in the media as if he or she is a mass murderer or a pedophile. No, the parents are not responsible for their children’s mistakes, but it seems that we could as a society be a bit kinder to our fellow citizens. I’ve read about several “children” recently whose families are surely reeling with a mix of emotions. Public hangings were probably as much fun. Many of the mistakes reported are often committed by young adults and are simply the result of bad choices for a moment that shouldn’t impact the rest of their lives. Many people don’t get caught but have done much worse. Perhaps you’d like YOUR bad choices reported.
Sadly, I shared this view on a public page and was pretty much lambasted. “People who make bad choices deserve to have their face plastered so maybe they won’t do it again.” Drunk driving is a really bad choice that can result in fatalities. I don’t advocate it or support it. I don’t think embarrassing someone will ‘fix’ them, though. Several people commented that the young woman in the most recent story was smiling and must not be too embarrassed–lots of people under the influence are happy for the moment.
What about you? The next time you run a red light, get a speeding ticket, park in a handicapped spot when you shouldn’t, throw trash out your window (cigarette butts count), or take something that doesn’t belong to you from your office supply room, I hope you get to volunteer to have your face plastered in front of the public so you can be embarrassed and change your wicked ways.
The problem isn’t that people shouldn’t experience discomfort for their mistakes, sometimes punishment, and that many items can be deemed news worthy, but what has happened is that folks in society take delight in putting down other people for their mistakes. Those damn glass houses will get you every time.