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Re: Re^2: On September 11

by Sifmole (Chaplain)
on Sep 11, 2002 at 19:25 UTC ( #197052=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re^2: On September 11
in thread On September 11

The difference is that that many people died an "unjust" death in two very high profile places in a very high profile way. I would like you to point out 5 such days in the past 365 where 2000 plus people have died within one square city block in under one hour. Such an occurance is actually fairly rare and worth remembering.

Each life is special, each death important to those it touches. These deaths touched many, it is truly that simple.

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Re^4: On September 11
by Aristotle (Chancellor) on Sep 11, 2002 at 19:51 UTC

    Sigh. I can't stop myself from commenting.. my question is: how does the significance of 5000 deaths change at all, when they were all in one very high profile place, as opposed to if they happen scattered all over a country? Don't they touch just as many?

    The reason I feel uncomfortable discussing this under such circumstances is that it easily makes it seem as though I'm downplaying the 9 11 events, when that is absolutely not my intention. I do find it worth noting how such a debate hardly ever arises at other occasions, though..

    Sigh (meant as a pretty all-encompassing one about state of mankind in general, not this thread).

    Makeshifts last the longest.

      You are correct in pointing out that tragic deaths, especially those involving murder, have on a certain level equal sorrow and angst associated with them.

      But it is also okay to point out the psychological effect notoriety has, outside of the initial tragedy itself. For example, we might also ask "Why did everyone make such a big deal about the assasination of J.F.K? He wasn't the only one murdered that day?" Clearly there are other factors at work that, while in no way diminishing the tragedy of a loss of human life, entertwine and magnify the event in the eye of the public.

      We see this same effect in the media with other events, such as the "shark epidemic" precedding 9/11, or more recently with all of the frenzy surrounding the abductions of children. In both of these cases, nothing had changed statistically about the frequency of such events (with kidnappings the trend has been downward), however a storm of morbid public fascination erupted in both cases through the medium of mass media. Despite the intense interest, the individual tragedies, whether they were hit with the spotlight or not, do not become any more or less tragic as a result.

      When examining why our society, and human nature overall, is susceptible to these phenomena, we are foced to gaze into the mirror of our own deep-rooted psychology.

      You want a real hand-wringer? Not too long ago I was visiting the killing fields, outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On display as a memorial there are thousands of bones of some of the victims of Pol Pot and the Kmer Rouge. As part of the display, amongst the mass graves and excavated skulls of men, women, and children, was a sign detailing many of the statistics of the massacres that took place, how many millions died, the brutal ways in which they were executed in front of their families, etc. Part of the text in this sign compared the horrors to that of those perpetrated by Nazi Germany, in a kind of "it was that bad" kind of way, and lamented how the world seems to have largely forgotten about it. This is true, regardless of how appropriate it is to point such a thing out.

      Some of the other observers there were absolutely outraged that anyone would ever dare make such a comparison, that nothing would ever equal what the Nazi's did, etc.

      I'm not sure which I found most disturbing. This business of one-upmanship on whose genocide was the worst is reprehensible. It's driven by how closely one relates to the horror of the tragedy, which is human psychology, but ignores the fact that every massacre is composed of individual human tragedies that must never be forgotten.

      It is just as disingenuous to state "nothing is as bad as mine was" as it is to complain "why wasn't mine noticed."

      The individual tradgedies are always there, always. Regardless of how much attention each and every death attracts in the public eye, nothing changes the fact that numbers, no matter how large, are made up of individuals. Every loss is significant.


        Some comments:

        You mention what was special about J.F.K? Well his death changed the course of American History. For example, if he had not died, we probably would have had Robert for President. We probably would not have had Nixon. VietNam would have been abandoned much sooner. I saw a old news interview with JFK stating that Nam was a waste of time and he was going to do everything to get us out. That was a couple weeks before Dallas

        Joe nobody dieing that same day? Well we can only guess if his death changed history.

        As to the "Shark feeding" I am happy for some of it. The child abduction attention is getting kids returned or their killers caught quicker. How is that bad?

        As to the interest in tragedy. Well man seems to like it. Why do we romantisie the Titanic?

        As to the massacres. Was it not Hitler who said when signed the order for the Jews. "Who remembers the Arminians?" It is simple to judge how can they do that? Well you have to live in an area where life is cheap to begin understanding it.

        When I was in India. There was a riot at the Red Fort where a few 1000 died. Numerous stories about people setting themselves on fire. What was the outrage of the time? The South Africans were fixing Cricket games. Go figure.

        Now to our regularly scheduled program.


        A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.
        -- Joseph Stalin

        Makeshifts last the longest.

      A fact to think about.

      When you combine the threat of dying in car accidents and from terrorism, NYC was safer to live in last year than the remainder of the USA.

      And yes, I saw the destruction of the WTC. Not just on a TV screen. Frankly the worst part of it was watching that jackass in the Whitehouse having trouble restraining himself from gloating over the free ride he got in the opinion polls.

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