Monday, April 22, 2013

Crawling Out From Under The Crazies

After a week where the number and intensity of news stories kept piling higher and higher - and sadly, so did all the crazies - we're hoping today to help you crawl out from under the pile, to clear up what happened and what important details you might have missed.

There were a number of other stories last week that on any other news week might have dominated the headlines. Take the Republican Party officially dumping Mark "Hiking the Appalachian Trail" Sanford during his race for Congress in South Carolina, or Chicago's Mayor Rahm Immanuel hightailing it to DC while his city experienced serious flooding. In the past, similar stories of political stupidity have held the public's attention with ease for multiple news cycles.

You also might have missed last week's raucous public hearing on the Keystone pipeline in Nebraska, or the awarding of a Pulitzer Prize for journalism to a group of environmental writers for their hard-hitting honest work about the pipeline's disastrous effects. Ironically, both the hearing and the award happened within the same week as Earth Day (which is today) and just before the third anniversary of the BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

We haven't even gotten to the Texas fertilizer plant explosion, or the massive earthquake in China. Both of those stories got short shrift in the media last week. Of course, there were also the ridiculous votes on gun safety in Congress and the events in Boston, which dominated the news.

The biggest, single unanswered question after last week's avalanche of news is, did we, as a nation, learn anything from these events? It isn't the only unanswered question Americans are facing after last week, though.

From the events in Boston, have we learned how America, as a whole, reacts to the accused bombers as being white, legal immigrants, who were bad at practicing their religion, and denounced by members of their own family? So far, it doesn't appear that way.

Have we learned about the importance of strong, live, local media - and ethical, professional national media - as legitimate sources for honest facts? Or are we ok with some of the least ethical corporatists in history purchasing some of our nation's larger media outlets, and turning them into even more propaganda-spewing monstrosities?

Have those same media outlets that performed so well during last week's confusion helped us to understand why Miranda rights are important to all Americans, including the Boston bombing suspect - or what the public safety exception even is? If they did explain, could you even get to their explanations - or is their work locked up behind a paywall, for only a shrinking few to see, hear, and read?

Why is it that an area of China that experienced 70,000 deaths due to a similar massive earthquake 5 years ago, only had around 200 deaths this time? Meanwhile, in West, Texas, after a fertilizer plant had gone 28 years without a proper federal inspection, 14 are now dead, scores are injured, and a town's main source of income is gone. Comparing the events in China and Texas, maybe there's something to be said about government codes and regulations saving lives after all.

Whatever challenges our nation and world face this week, we have no doubt Americans can face them well and mostly united, if the positive lessons from last week are truly and honestly applied. Of course, as we noted, the bigger question is: Did America learn anything from last week's events?

We'll all find out soon enough what lessons - if any - Americans pulled from the pile of crazies last week.