Have you noticed we go from one media event to another almost too seamlessly anymore? Would it not be nice to hear someone on FOX, CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS, or ABC announce that, since it was a slow news day they were going to provide a story they had actually investigated! Not likely! In this modern day age of bobblehead anchor newspeak, the events that qualify for news often dissolve when given some serious attention. Mosque phobia last week melted into book burning this week! Any day, aliens from space should be arriving. They should be careful to call ahead and let us know they are coming or we might not be able to fit them in!
There can be little doubt that all the commotion over a book burning was instigated this past week by the need for media to 1) to have something to tell us about, and 2) because our media is so good at making a story out of relatively nothing that once something catches our eye, like moths near flame can’t let it go until we are done with it. Granted had our President bought a barbecue grill and announced to the world it was his intention to burn a holy book of an opposing religion you would have had a real story. But when Terry Jones, a nut case lay minister with a following you couldn’t fill a decent size Mac Donald’s with at lunchtime, commands the national stage then maybe we need to back up and ask, what’s going on here? Or better yet, what is not going on here!
Blowing news stories out of proportion is something our media loves to do. How did we go from the worst oil spill in the history of America, to one that gets mentioned now a month after its containment only in the commercials by the company that caused it? Was it really that bad, or did we just get tired of watching millions of barrels flow unabated into the Gulf? Be it chits or chads or ladies on life support apparently America has the attention span of a fruit fly gnat! To their defense, the media says when the public gets tired of a story they need to stop reporting about it regardless of whether or not it is still news or not. One remembers Brian Williams acknowledging the viewers were complaining, “Enough about Katrina already, move on!”
So it seems par for the course that this week our news attention is focused on a book burning. The idea of burning any book turns my stomach. That goes for either the good or the bad ones. The first book I ever remember someone wanting to burn was, “Catcher in the Rye.” Good old Holden Caulfield. For some reason in today’s lighting fast age of information at your fingertips, burning a book is tantamount to shooing away a fly. Another will be in your hands in just a second if you want it to be. Now had someone wanted to burn the pastor, now there is a story!
The largely symbolic gesture of book burning is right up there with the burning of flags. And you all know how immune you can get to that. One soon learns that in these cases burning anything makes the burner far happier than it does upsetting those the action was intended to upset.