Which deaths matter?
Are all deaths equal? Or, are some more important than others? The US media appears to have its own formula when it comes to weighting deaths. In the last few months, we have seen untold misery to millions and thousands of deaths from wars and calamities around the world. Gaza, Syria, Ukraine, MH 370, MH17, Ebola deaths in Africa. The list goes on interminably.
Prior to the gruesome beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff (both US citizens), ISIS had murdered thousands in Syria and Iraq. But, it was these two executions which caught the attention of the US media which then turned public opinion and galvanized the Obama administration into action against ISIS. When it comes to deaths, there seems to be a notion of ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ in the US media, as The Atlantic points out.
[ The Atlantic: How the media covers the people behind today's grim statistics ]
The Big Pharma Disorder
There’s a new disease in town. It’s called Sluggish Cognitive Tempo. You and I might call a child a day dreamer, but there are some who are seeking approval to describe the condition as a disease. Indeed, day dreaming is one of the symptoms of SCT. Others are lethargy and slow mental processing. As comical as this might appear, there is ongoing scientific debate on this ‘disease,’ which has spilled into the pages of New York Times.
[ New York Times: Idea of New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate ]
Remember ADHD? More than six million American children have been diagnosed with and treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder till date. There is now widespread concern that the condition may have been significantly misdiagnosed and over treated with prescription medications.
The champion for SCT to be treated as a medical disorder is a psychologist, who is on the payroll of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical giant which coincidentally has a drug waiting in the wings that might be used to treat SCT. Another sordid tale unfolds of disease mongering by big pharma, targeting children for mass drugging in their pursuit of mammon. Stay tuned. And be very careful.
This week in history
In June 1994, the butchered bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found on the front walkway of Simpson’s condominium in Brentwood, an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. Within days, Brown’s ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, was considered the prime suspect in the murder of both. The year that followed was legendary in its cast of characters and legal drama. The N-word. “If it does not fit, you must acquit.” The dog howling in the night. Then, finally, the verdict. It came this week in 1995.
[Pic: OJ Simpson in the middle, flanked by his lawyers Johnny Cochran and F Lee Bailey, on his left and right respectively. ]
The country stopped to watch for a few minutes when the verdict was read. An estimated 100 million people tuned in. Most remember where they were when they heard it. I was at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh that afternoon, with a large group of fellow students. We had gathered in front of the television in the lobby. There were audible gasps and outraged shouts when the (now known to be flawed) ‘not guilty’ verdict was announced. Simpson’s drive down Interstate 405 as he held a gun to his temple and threatened suicide – covered live for hours – and the subsequent televised court proceedings marked an inflection point in American television when news devolved into entertainment and set a precedent for reality television that has become commonplace today. Johnny Cochran, Simpson’s lawyer, put on such a terrific show for the cameras that even Simpson may have been tempted to believe that he was not guilty.