Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Website of the Day
Flowers strewn in our path? Not hardly.
Today's Search Engine queries:
CHRISTMAS LETTER. Once again, I've posted our Christmas letter on the Internet. It may not be as personal as holding it in your hand--but it's a lot prettier on the net!
STILL, STILL, STILL
16 December 2004
That's what I'd like these days--lots of "still, still, still."
For two days now it's been All Scott Peterson All the Time. Talking heads speculating on how Scott must be feeling. Interviews with jurors. Interviews with prosecutors. Interviews with family members willing to speak with the media. Today there was even an interview with the best man and bridesmaid at their wedding (I didn't watch it, but it was on in the background on The Today Show as I did the regular morning routine). The evening news had an interview with the guy who helped select the jury.
And then there are interviews with talking heads who have nothing to do with the trial itself, but who have informed opinions because they are supposedly experts in their various fields. And interviews with talking heads who have nothing to do with the trial itself, but who have UNinformed opinions backed by nothing except that they managed to find a microphone and a camera.
I wasn't out driving around town but I'll bet that any talk radio show was going to be centered on people's reaction to the death penalty being imposed on Peterson.
There are only two ways to avoid it. Give up television, radio, magazines and newspapers entirely, or watch only cable and DVDs (though our DVD player seems to have bit the dust), and read only books.
The Laci Peterson murder was a terrible tragedy, to be sure. The nature of the crime, and the inclusion of her baby made it beat even Nicole Simpson in grisly details.
But I think the greater tragedy is what it has done to uninvolved people in general.
It disgusts me to see bets being placed in Las Vegas about jury decisions, as if we have reduced this horrible crime to a sporting event (it disgusts me even more to think of the people who were happy with whatever the outcome of the trial was because they made money on the deal).
It disgusts me that our local news channel set up a "hot line" that we could all subscribe to so that we'd get a notification "the minute" the verdict was in, the minute the decision had been made about life or death. Did anybody really need to know the result of this trial badly enough that we needed a hot line so we wouldn't have to wait a single second to know the outcome?
It very, very much disgusts me that people flocked to the courthouse as soon as they heard that the jury had returned a verdict or had made the decision about life or death. People who were admitted to the courthouse by lottery, standing around for hours hoping to be among the chosen few spectators who were admitted each day.
And then the announcement of the jury decisions: Guilty.
Cheers and high fives all around.
The announcement of "death."
More cheers, happy faces, and high fives.
There is nothing to cheer about in this tragedy. And we have no business acting like Romans watching Christians be led to the slaughter in the Coliseum, munching popcorn while the lions crunched a few bones (OK--I suppose they didn't sell popcorn in the Coliseum, but you get what I mean.)
I hate that family tragedies have become media events.
I've been through a family tragedy or two and I can't imagine the pain it must be for the families--the families of both Scott and Laci Peterson--to have news trucks parked on your front lawn for months at a time, to have everything you do recorded, photographed, and splashed on the front page of mainstream newspapers and tabloids.
This can't be bringing "peace" to anybody. It can only make things worse when every time you go to pick up a quart of milk, you see your daughter's face smiling out at you from The National Inquirer with some probably erroneous new salacious factoid in the headlines.
Or when you go out to pick up something for dinner and find your son's face spashed across every tabloid with even more horrendous speculations and innuendos, knowing that other people are looking at those headlines and glancing sideways at you, afraid to make eye contact.
It can't possibly make it easier for Laci's family that we all know that she was found without a head, and that fact has been repeated over and over again.
When will all these people go away and let the families grieve in peace?
The dumbest question asked: "How is the family doing?" How do you THINK they're doing. Their beloved daughter is brutally murdered, they will never see their eagerly awaited grandson, and the son-in-law they loved has been sentenced to death for the murder.
The dumbest statement made: "This isn't over for them." Of course not. Laci is going to be dead for the rest of their lives. They will grieve her and her baby forever.
Let Laci's family mourn for her in private and get on with their lives.
Let the Petersons mourn for that "darling little boy" who apparently made a horrible bad turn somewhere along the way, but whom they still remember as the kid who liked to help people and wouldn't hurt anyone.
Just go away, everybody, and leave them alone.
I'm thinking of the closing scene of Chicago where Roxie is aquitted and she expects to remain a media darling, only to have all the reporters rush out of the courtroom because some new tragedy has just occurred.
Somewhere out there is someone who is plotting some grisly crime. There will be blood. There will be a victim. There will be families who are in anguish. And the news media will be there to bring us every single morcel for as many months or years as it takes.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Tom's dog was diagnosed with a brain tumor and had to be put to sleep.