Wednesday, June 19, 2002

I often don't agree with Susanna's take on things. But here's an exception:

In a post earlier this morning, she writes about a child who died after being left in a hot car. The boy was the youngest of a Catholic family's 13 children, and Susanna points out that by focusing on the family's Catholicism, press accounts seemed to be shifting the issue away from the actual criminal act. The family's spiritual beliefs are being portrayed as valid excuse for criminal behavior.

The news media need to get out of this view of religion as a form of organized insanity that gives its practitioners some type of bye in criminal cases. No, no and no. The criminal law is what it is, and those who break it for whatever reason are still responsible to it. There may be mitigating circumstances, and the religious beliefs of the offender may serve as one, but to present this case of neglect as more than just that is a result of ignorance, media bias and an unwillingness to be clear-sighted about our modern society.
On a related note, I generally cringe when I read blanket criticism of "the Media" -- as if every journalist in the world gets daily marching orders from some sort of secret headquarters. In my experiece, there is often a lot of dissent and variation of opinion within a given newsroom, let alone among different media organizations. Just as religion shouldn't be used to explain away criminal behavior, being part of "the Media" shoudn't be used to explain away poor reporting. If there are problems, sure, point them out and loudly criticize the reporters and editors involved. But don't assume that every journalist would have done the same thing.

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