Saturday, April 3, 2004

Death and Indifference

I must confess that I don’t read Daily Kos every day. I know he is a premiere blogger – one of the best – but I read so many blogs that he sometimes gets by me. So I missed the original post where he wrote about the four dead civilians who were attacked and mutilated in Iraq, “I felt nothing. Screw them.”

He started a big debate among blogs, bloggers, and commenters in many, many places. He has now put up a post that is his way of explaining his feelings. I won’t attempt to encapsulate it here – he does a fine job for himself – and it does get me thinking about how we have become a nation, with some exceptions, that is indifferent to killing.

We have sanitized it so that it is presentable. We have made it a religious experience so that we don’t have to accept it as The End. We make it a part of our legal system so that it is allowable in order to get rid of the more heinous or intractable criminals among us.

Every so often, however, a killing gets our attention – Laci Peterson, Jon Benet Ramsey – and the publicity over whodunit completely overwhelms the life that was lost. It becomes the subject of the tabloids, the talk shows, a Lifetime Movie of the Week with Markie Post. Meanwhile, there are hundreds of stories like Laci Peterson that get barely a paragraph on A-16. Why? I have no earthly idea. But it bothers me. And I can see why Kos, after seeing so much death in his life, felt that the death of four men in Fallujah during a war that has taken over 600 American lives and countless (and uncounted) Iraqi lives, wonders why we are rightly horrified by that brutality and indifferent to the rest. So do I.