Wednesday, April 08, 2015

1469 What About the Victims?

True crime stories dominate the tabloids and the cheap- end television channels.  But the murder rate has fallen in most of the country for most of the last decade or so.  It’ll never fall to zero or anything close. So, fear not.  There’ll be plenty of new stories to go around.

Lately, there has been a lot of concern about the victims, and rightly so.  But we’ve gotten into the habit of nearly deifying many of them.

And this is natural.  We’re taught from childhood “don’t speak ill of the dead.”  And those are words to live by most of the time.

But there’s a difference between not speaking ill of someone and hoisting him onto a pedestal.

You never hear or read in obituaries that say “...he was a nice guy, got along with his neighbors, never had a knock-down-drag-out with his wife or kids.  Went to work every day.”

You never hear “...she was a good kid.  Got pretty good grades in school, took care of her little brother and worked the cash register at the dollar store after school.”

Not every murder victim

--lit up the room.
--made everyone laugh.
--cheered up the room.
--had his or her “whole future in front of him or her.”
-- wasn’t allowed to live long enough to make the wonderful contributions to society we could tell were coming.

Why do we do this?  

A lot of reasons.  We are sad and recalling highlights or potential highlights helps us in our sadness.

We make more of lost people (and pets and objects) to heighten our sense of loss or to dull it.

Sometime in the early 1950s the occasional artist and renowned comedian Salvador Dali opined that every dead person becomes 10-thousand times greater than he was in life.  

The part that the true crime programs and the tabloids don’t get is that the lost lives count.  Not because “she was so bubbly” or “he read stories to old people with bad eyesight,” but simply because he or she was. At root, we’re all ordinary and no one has to go to great lengths to prove otherwise.

Shrapnel:

--This is one of those things you can’t make up. Ashley King of New Berlin, Illinois is getting married. Her fiance is Joel Burger.  Maybe they’ll name their first kid Whopper.

--Final Four Follies followup: First in-vincible Kentucky gets vinced. Then Duke dukes Wisconsin.  Mitt Romney was one of the one percent of bracket filler-outers who got it 100% right; 52% got it mostly right; 47% cheated.

--A new company, Elio Motors of Phoenix has sold 40-thousand cars that don’t exist.  More accurately, 40-thousand people paid between $100 and $1,000 for placement on a waiting list.  The car, if it’s ever built, will seat two, have three wheels instead of four and supposedly get more than 80 miles per gallon from a standard lawnmower-esque engine.  Cost: seven grand.

I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Please address comments to wesrichards@gmail.com

© WJR 2015

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