The R.I. Rock Club Tragedy I have been thinking about this Rock Club tragedy. They've been printing obits in the Boston Globe, kind of how they did in the NYTimes for the WTC disaster. Granted, the scope of these two events is incomparable. However, for the size of RI, it is comparable, percentage-wise, and surely comparable in terms of impact on the area. I'm not really for comparing lost lives to lost lives. Any premature death is a horrible thing no matter what the circumstances. But I couldn't help but compare the way the WTC obits came off compared to these in RI. You got all walks of life in the WTC obits. You got all races, and you have everyone from janitors to policemen to CEOs. But it seemed that the take-away was "look at all these people, all these promising lives with so much to offer, all these loving parents, etc.". That's the vibe you got from pretty much any sampling of the WTC obits. The vibe you get reading the RI obits is this: "look at all these white people who were just trying to get by, who loved 80s metal music so much that they refused to cut their hair. Look at all these parents who were out at a night club partying with a washed up hair band while they left their children at home with their aunt." I don't mean to be callous, but seriously that is the take-away, more or less. I started thinking about why I came away with that feeling. Was it my condescention kicking in? Was it poor journalism, or perhaps journalism that focused on the event rather than the life of the individual? Or, as a friend pointed out, was I saddened that I got what I expected when reading them? They are lives lost and that is the bottom line. But I can't help but notice the way that America has seemed to shelf this tragedy on a lower rung than, say, if it had happened at a play, or a college band recital. Not that the tragedy did not touch a lot of people. And it surely grabbed the media's attention. But it is haunted by a certain condescention. Perhaps it was the recklessness of the band and the club that gives the tragedy an air of "an accident waiting to happen" or "bad decisions resulting in a bad thing", rather than "an unforseen tragedy that took a lot of wonderful people's lives".
I don't know. I don't even know what I'm trying to say other than it bothers me that we, as a society, place more importance on some tragedies than others. I'm just as guilty, sure. We all are. And if we say we aren't, we're lying. A perfect example is the Space Shuttle. "Those people were well educated, upright citizens, and heroes," is the message. Whereas a dozen migrant workers dying in a horrible crash in Maine the same week provokes the feeling that "they were illegal immigrants, living under the radar, so fuck 'em". And of the 15 Afghanis recently blown to bits by a mine: "they lived where terrorists come from, so fuck em". Or the lack of press given to the Chicago night club trampling ("they were black, not leading promising lives, and probably up to no good, so fuck 'em").
I guess I can't expect there to be equal weight given to every death. Otherwise we'd never get through the news. And ratings would start to plummet. I guess, in a perfect world, I just would like us, as a society, to put things into perspective. I wish people would pay more attention to the lives (lost or otherwise) that don't so closely resemble their own. Just because you can't see a little bit of yourselves in those people doesn't make them any less human.