A husband-and-wife couple were arrested for alleged participation in a child pornography ring. He was a youth football couch; she was a teacher’s assistant at an elementary school. Several computers have been seized from the elementary school as part of the investigation. That’s big stuff. That’s heavy stuff. It shakes the foundation of parents’ trust of the school district’s background screening process, it makes people fear for the safety of their children, and it makes people wonder how a kiddie porn ring can be operating undetected inside a school.
The state has discovered (or, more likely, finally admitted) that they haven’t balanced the books for years, and now that they have, they’ve figured out that they’re even more broke than they previously thought. This is going to impact state workers, citizens who rely on services the state provides, and will likely impact taxes down the line as they figure out how to fix the revenue problem and get finances back under control. The implications of criminal misconduct, above and beyond basic incompetence and mismanagement, are staggering.
Either of those stories are headlines. They’re big stories, and the impact a lot of people here in this city. But what story did the local news select to lead off last night’s broadcast? A local man’s ipod was stolen. He was in the hospital, and had placed it in a dresser drawer before he went to sleep. When he woke up, it was gone. Now, it sucks that the guy was robbed. It’s sad, and it’s an outrage that something like that happens in a hospital where you want to feel safe and protected. But let’s put that story in the perspective of CHILD PORN RING IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL and STATE ADMITS MASSIVE ACCOUNTING FRAUD. Really? Really? Of all the stories to lead off with, THAT was the one you considered to be the most important?
This isn’t an isolated incident; it’s the basic tenor of the local news, on all the stations, and in the one remaining newspaper (the alt.weekly, while having slightly higher journalistic standards, doesn’t count). I think it’s a reflection of the society here. Nobody cares about the education system here; they know it sucks, with a 62% high school graduation rate that ranks it 49th in the nation, beating only Nevada, and 49th in test scores beating out Mississippi for the worst in the country, and we’re pretty much given up hope. A child porn ring? Yeah, that seems about right.
We know the state is broke, filled with poverty, upside down in its joke of a budget, and we’re so fraught with poverty that we don’t really have the tax base to pull ourselves out of the hole. We also know that our politicians have been corrupt for years, so badly so that Latin American dictators come here to take notes and ask for tips on how to bungle things up and screw citizens over. There’s no outrage left. We’re jaded about it.
So it makes sense that the lead story gives us a sense to rage vicariously about people taking our personal, hard-earned stuff. We’re so fried over the horror and the idiocy that a little story about something that could actually happen to us is the one people are able connect with. That scares the living crap out of me. That indicates that things are likely to get worse before they get better. Sigh.