Things I Don't Need To Hear

So one night this week, Mrs. D.O.T.S. had drifted off to sleep and I was still awake and reading. As usual, the TV was tuned to Fox News Channel but I wasn't really listening. Suddenly I was jolted by the sound of a young girl screaming for help.

I looked at the TV to find Greta Van Susteren playing the audio tape of a call to 911. The caption said it was a 9-year-old girl whose mother had just been stabbed by her father. The mother was bleeding, the deranged father was stalking around with a sword, and the little girl was calling for help while trying to care for a younger brother.

I was fascinated by this for a second. It was a kind of primitive reaction that I think is programmed into the males of most every species: child in danger - protect! But of course it was TV; there was nothing I could do. Once this thought registered, I started to feel uncomfortable. This little girl's life was being destroyed, and Fox News was replaying her experience for... what? Entertainment value? I, for one, did not feel entertained.

Let me be clear: this wasn't just a quick clip. It went on for two or three minutes as the 911 operator tried to get information and help the girl calm down. I finally decided I didn't want to hear anymore and turned it off.

Of course it is the mission of Fox News to report the news. Reporting the facts is one thing; replaying the worst moments of this girl's life for the entire nation to share isn't news. It is pure titillation and emotional manipulation. But the media isn't alone. They do these things because the public responds. We're all at fault.

The mother died and the father was arrested. Hopefully justice will be done and he won't be able to hurt anyone else. He's already done quite enough; two young children have lost their mother and their father in the worst possible way. The experience will haunt them for life. It's haunting me and I wasn't even there.

One good thing did come from the story: as I drifted off to sleep that night, I prayed for that little girl and her brother. I'm sure many other people did the same. Sadly, it was all we could do.

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