There’s been a story on Metafilter that mirrors a recent thread on the Culture mailing list concerning the rash of media coverage on child kidnappings in the US and UK. If you read the Metafilter discussion, it morphs into an argument about whether it’s insensitive for someone to say, “Well, it’s very sad that these kids died, but it happens a lot and I would rather save my sympathy for when it happens to someone I know.”
Posts on the Culture list have made the point that this ‘outpouring of grief’ from those who never met the kids concerned serves merely to cheapen the emotion. In the UK, Events came to a head as a minute’s silence was held across the country at football stadiums for killed children Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. As Charlie B put it:
“Tragic as it is, wtf has it got to do with anyone other than the immediate family and friends? Where’s the minute’s silence for Sarah Payne, Milly Dowler [other kidnapped and killed children], the policeman who died in the shooting yesterday, the bloke hit by a drunk driver, the 25 year old who drops dead of a brain haemorrhage 10 minutes after getting out of bed? This all stems entirely from the fact that they disappeared wearing football shirts. Well, great. Most kids and a fair percentage of adults wear football shirts.
“This trite oversentimentality and righteous indignation that not everyone reacts to these events in the same way embarrasses and disgusts me.
“Their murder was evil and the murderers need to be brough to justice and sentenced accordingly. Maybe there’s lessons for people in discussing these issues with their kids. But ultimately, this is none of our business. None of us knew these kids directly. Let the families grieve in peace.”