17 September 2008

A matter of decency

We had a horrific train wreck here last week and today the 911 calls were released. For some reason, 911 calls are considered a public record and are thus not kept private.

Every news outlet immediately played them.

To me, this falls into the category of "Just because you can, doesn't mean you have to." It makes me feel nauseous that I live in a time where this is acceptable.

Weeping and screaming are something to share with the public, wedged between the traffic report and sports, the newscasters using their serious tone and shaking their heads sadly at the end so we know they care and aren't just waxen robots with the power of speech.

Why, why do we need to hear them? Are we so uncaring and callous that other people's most awful moments are fodder for our consumption? Why don't we just bring back the Christians and the lions, if we are going to go down that road?

I don't watch TV news and I turned off the radio when our local NPR station began to play the calls. It's not that I can't handle it. It is that I don't want to be the kind of person who thinks it is ok to listen to, because it isn't. It just isn't.


QT said...


Working for a media outlet, the theory was always "everyone else is running it, we can't look like we are out of the loop".

I think it might be called respect. But I guess you can't expect someone without a soul to know what that means.

Chase said...

My can't agree more. I *hate* stuff like that. I also hated that people wanted to watch the executions of Timothy McVay or Saddam Hussein. It's all disgusting, IMO, and I hate being part of a people who think it's entertainment.

thailandchani said...

Completely agree. I think part of the reason they do that kind of thing is because people have become so numb that it requires more and more to generate a reaction.

But I'm with you. I won't listen to it.

The Caylee Anthony case, nearly wall to wall, is evidence of the same thing.


barbra said...

Thank you, thank you. I agree wholeheartedly. I don't watch the news, and I don't let my kids see the news, because the way it is delivered is bad for all of us. The sensationalistic tones of these newscasters' voices makes even little stories seem worse than they are. If my kids hear it (at Granddad's house, for example), they get scared and they turn it off.

Traceytreasure said...

Here, here! I wouldn't want my emergency moments aired for the world to hear.
It's just not right. I totally agree with you and I try my best not to listen to the personal, emergency tapes, if aired out of respect for those. Plus, I cry if I hear someone crying. :(


Traceytreasure said...

s/b "for those involved."


mar said...

if anything like that came on tv i always turn it off or at least change the channel. i can't take it nor do i find it necessary to play it.
when i was in europe we were on a train that ended up delayed due to an accident on the crossing ahead of us. first we heard it was a tree, then a cow. then we found out that someone attempted ride their bike in front of the train, on purpose. while everyone crowded to the windows as we eventually went past, my friend a & i shared a set of headphones, shut the blinds in our car & tried to drown it out. what did they think they wanted to see/hear anyway?

meno said...

I can't handle it, i admit it.

And it's not okay either.

Mamma said...

I agree. I felt the same way about the 9/11 911 calls. I can imagine it in my own head. These people don't need to be exposed at their weakest moments.

the queen said...

Amen, sister

g said...

Such a horrific accident. And such a tragedy for all involved. We were driving when it happened, and heard the initial news report - they said a head on collision with a freight train, but they had no other info.

With that, though, you knew it would be horrible. My heart goes out to all the people involved. There were some very heartening stories of people helping one another.

Swistle said...



Mrs. Flinger said...

I could not agree more. I've noticed it happening more often lately, things being played for all of us when it's unnecessary, irrelevant and almost rude.

Ericka said...

i totally agree. i was, and remain, completely appalled that they release those. i don't believe that news should be ratings based entertainment, staffed with souless plastic people who manufacture emotion on command either.

i'll never have onstar, in part because i have a major problem with their ads. i don't even care if those are the real recordings of customers or not - it's not okay.

so, you are not alone.

J at www.jellyjules.com said...

I'm with you, 110%. I do not want to hear people's anguish. And I'll go farther and say, I cannot handle it. It's too much.

I couldn't see any of the films made about September 11 either, for pretty much the same reason.

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