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 V.16 No.2 | January 11 - 17, 2007 

Thin Line

Snow Saturation—It snowed. A lot. I keep having visions of breaking my teeth on the ice as my inappropriate shoes take baby steps across sidewalks the city is ill-prepared to melt.

It's a big deal. Cars were stuck on the freeway. APS shut down. Pot holes happened. People in the city fractured bones. Around the state, some even died.

But I wonder whether our media outlets were threatening more snow to fear us into tuning in or picking up the paper. Another storm was expected Monday. Then Tuesday. Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Finally, late Friday evening, we got a light dusting. I don't think anyone would exactly invent a forecast, but overplay it? And how. Sunday's Journal even had a recap of weather in 2006 in the lead feature space. We know. We were there.

When do we hit maximum snow or weather news saturation? I think we're all going to find out (if we haven't already).

Giants of Men—Ford pardoned Nixon. James Brown thought it was OK to beat his wives. The two men did lots of other stuff, too--much of the music I love wouldn't be here without Brown. You can read all about their innumerable qualities and contributions in every obit or announcement that was written about them last week.

The media, the "midwives of history," as some would have it, should paint more than the great sides of people after they die. Sure, some portraits detail a more well-rounded image, but often what we get are clipped, airless sentences, tossed like innards into the myth-making machine, creating cartoonish giants of men.

This does a disservice to the readers, the heroes and our history.

Snuff or Testimony?—Shake your head and click your tongue. How could people be so bloodthirsty as to watch the video of Saddam Hussein's death? The angry mob mentality grew to unimagined numbers online last week as we saw him swing. But from the back of the room grew a slow disquiet. The hanging was chaotic and angry. Guards and spectators taunted and humiliated Hussein. Some have said the former Iraqi dictator emerged as a sympathetic figure, the only one to comport himself with some dignity amid a revenge killing and a rogue war.

That's certainly different than the snapshot the government issued: A scarf, a noose, a shroud, minor blood.

Is it disgraceful that someone caught the whole thing on a cell phone camera? Perhaps it's the first time a society's really been confronted in visual language with what it means to kill an enemy, with what state-sponsored death looks like.

I'm not taking a stance here on the death penalty or even on Hussein's death. I wouldn't even suggest that it should be shoved down our throats on the nightly news. But I will argue in favor of brutal truth being available for all to witness. Citizens should know the consequences, pretty or gruesome, of their decisions and the judgement calls of their government.

 
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