Monday, November 10, 2008

Speaking of dignity

In Madison last week, a man was murdered in a fight at a local park. He didn't have to die, given that two people called in noise complaints to 911 an hour earlier, and more than one noise complaint about the same incident is supposed to trigger the dispatch of police officers. Afterward, our only surviving print daily published a narrow-viewed article about the victim. To summarize: The guy was an unemployed drunk, so it wouldn't happen to you, a reader of newspapers -- and besides, he doesn't matter anyway.

I think I was more offended by the newspaper article than by the video of James Dobson speaking at an anti-gay rally in California two weeks ago. I don't expect newspapers to print reminder that each and every one of us is a child of God. But it certainly evaded its journalistic duties by defining this man as a stereotype.

The article fails to mention that Mark Gregory Johnson worked for the same employer for 14 years, until it went out of business two years ago. It fails to mention that he had friends, family, and a cat. It fails to mention that he was a human being, although I'm sure the reporter would argue that piece of information was self-evident.

It also fails to mention that, "dear reader, it could happen to you since virtually every Wisconsinite is a drunk by definition and the unemployment rate sure is rising, isn't it?"

I am appalled at the thought of his family opening the paper to read this crap. They had to place an obituary to get the rest of the story told.

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