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Say What?

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Where are we going with free speech?

The lament of the month is trying to figure out how our society has managed to become so sensitive that we have political correctness as a concern in daily language and so insensitive that our TV viewing is almost dominated by crimes against young women. That is a long sentence but describes why older people wonder, what is happening?

As a young person I often heard my elders express the opinion the world was going to hell. I wondered how that could be true because things looked pretty good to me. Now that I am getting ‘longer in the tooth’ darned if it doesn’t look like they knew something I didn’t.

To the part about being so sensitive. We often joke about being politically correct. To many having to be so careful about your choice of words when it applies to others than ourselves has become a laughing matter. There are so many contrary situations alive and well you have to wonder just who has made us so.

Well there are a few people at large in our society who spend their lives tracking down the the miscreants who say something these guys find offensive. Case in point. This guy Imus as a talk show person used a term the ‘police’ thought insulting. He got fired. Meanwhile back in the recording studios some rappers are making a fortune using the same terms. They must be under the radar screen.

I am not trying to make a case for more vulgarity or hammering at the subject of free speech, but come on! If tolerating more descriptive speech is going to be acceptable at any level it must be acceptable at all levels. Either there is no immunity or we need to become more tolerant. Take your choice

On the other hand we have become so insenseitve that the TV screen is loaded with scripts that begin by killing someone. We are have enjoyed mysteries over the years. Solving a crime can be good reading although the writer knows in advance how things are going to turn out. Our fascination is with the twists and turns an author can use to keep the reader’s attention. So it’s not the mystery that is at fault.

What is lamentable is that we are deluged with stories about people being killed as part of a story. We have enough occurring naturally that endless programs themed to glorify the homicide detective, or the forensic scientist seem to indicate a somewhat ill society. I have never been in a morgue in my life but I know what they look like. I know about keeping bodies on ice or just under cover. Lately I have become better acquainted with the characteristics of knife wounds. (They are more dramatic than a simple small caliber bullet wound).

The point is just how much better do you feel after watching a hour of Miami Vice? Does it not seem strange that viewers could be looking forward to the next dish of the same thing? We have several ‘shows’ labelled Law & Order. NCIS used to be a military organization. (Naval Counterintelligence Service)

A redeeming feature about the crime programs is that they don’t have a laugh track. No one sits in a studio and dubs in some insane guffaw at a lame line..

It would seem that in these days of instant communication we tolerate or accept and perhaps enjoy a vast variety of information that doesn’t contribute one iota to our happiness or well being. Perhaps our civilization has not progressed as far as we think it has. Perhaps we are not too far removed from the days when attending a hanging was considered good sport. Maybe we are still trying to accommodate the satisfaction we get out of seeing the guilty party punished.

Of course that can’t be true or there wouldn’t be so many people on death row.

Are we compensating by writing stories about innocent victims? It would appear that the real problem is we have allowed our senses to become so calloused we need the sensational to hold our attention or to even get it. Perhaps it is just a part of a maturing society. Gone are the days when a few people went over Niagara Falls in a barrel. Sold a lot of papers. The wing walkers at air shows did the same thing. Daring stunts were very popular, but stunts are miles apart from homicides

So where are we going? It is sad to contemplate going down this road much further. If we are going to tire of the same old venue what is next? Perhaps there is a clue in the cartoons that the kids watch. The scary part is not the content but the consequence. The kids in the neighborhood are not best friends; the electronic device some parent stood in line to buy is a more important part of life than another person

Some of the greater joys in life can come from knowing and understanding another human. (A dog or cat is not a substitute.) It builds respect and appreciation, something that is lost in the self centering effect of a 62" plasma screen. There is nothing that can replace personal interaction. Perhaps it is the siren song of the electronic world that has managed to harden our sensibilities and destroy the joys of social interaction? Get acquainted with your neighbor before it’s too late!

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Paul Rechnitzer Paul Rechnitzer Transplanted 30 years ago, Paul is a retiree from the oil business who knows no other place he would rather live and breathe local history.

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