Almost as warped as the (evil, not ill) mass murderer who killed 20 children and 7 adults (his mother included) at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., is the freaky spectacle of mass contagion—where members of the public turn professional mourners, flocking to funeral happenings for victims they never knew.
Yes, each one of us can project his own baggage onto the senseless deaths in Newtown. But grief is not a tribal affair. Communities don’t grieve; individuals who incur loss do. These ritualistic displays among regular folks across the US are symptomatic of our festering cultural commons.
At the center of this festering culture is the journalist, acting as a master of ceremonies (MC). (I can see Anderson Cooper reconfiguring his Hero of the Year Award as we speak. This low-watt, dim bulb of a journo chooses America’s heroes each year, based on how many tears they shed. Pretty much.) For the media’s blow-by-blow, wall-to-wall coverage of the memorial in Newtown, Connecticut—and of every connected utterance on the issue, official or other—is a deconstruction of the discipline of journalism.
“Intellectual disciplines,” historian Keith Windschuttle has written, “were founded in ancient Greece and gained considerable impetus from the work of Aristotle who identified and organized a range of subjects into orderly bodies of learning. … The history of Western knowledge shows the decisive importance of the structuring of disciplines. This structuring allowed the West to benefit from two key innovations: the systematization of research methods, which produced an accretion of consistent findings; and the organization of effective teaching, which permitted a large and accumulating body of knowledge to be transmitted from one generation to the next.” (The Killing of History, Keith Windschuttle, Encounter, pp. 247-250)
The signal achievement of the postmodern tradition has been to completely dismantle one of the greatest achievements of Western Civilization: the intellectual discipline.
If there is nothing new to report on the case, no reporting needs to take place.
The victims of this shooting have become a sideshow in the pornography of grief.
UPDATE: BARF, BARF. A headline on Huffington Post (CNN’s Alpha Female, Anderson Cooper, Did a Similar Segment on The Topic): “Comfort Dogs Sent To Newtown From Chicago Area To Help Community After Sandy Hook Shooting.”
One day after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School, a group of golden retrievers from the Chicago area made a cross-country journey to comfort the affected community in Newtown.
Apparently there are no companion dogs in Newtown, Conn. They had to import expert dogs to handle the situation.
There is very little dignity in this.
You can’t make this stuff up.