Wednesday, October 21, 2009

America's UFO in a coal mine

The US news media's orgy of self-righteous indignation at the alleged crime of Richard Heene and his family of UFO enthusiasts is getting old very fast.  I'm talking about the spectacle of overpaid TV journalists harping on a guy with a high school education who at the very least has gone to a lot of trouble to interest his kids in science.

I watched television news analysts discuss how the "balloon boy" incident wasted the time of so many Americans.  They should know about that, I thought.  I watched them complain about having been duped by "fake news."  That seemed ironic.  It seemed  to me that Richard Heene's low-budget stunt was both more creative and amusing than any story Fox News had manufactured lately.   Heene's fake event posed far less danger to civilization than the constant stream of programmed sensationalism that one encounters daily in the news media. 

A news network anchor posed a question to the correspondent:  "Will the sheriff be able to recoup the money for the rescue effort from the Heenes?"  The reporter replied that Heeney did not seem to have any money, that was unlikely.  "I suppose the county might attempt to garnish Richard's future wages," he added.

But this much is certain: in terms of entertainment value for the taxpayer dollar, "Balloon Boy scam" was a better deal for Americans than the ongoing "bailout of Wall Street scam."   The cost of Richard Heene's stunt needs to be put in perspective.

Because there is a serious side to the story.   One which -- quite predictably -- most real American journalists have shown no interest in exploring.   The question is:  what would drive an American father to put his family through such madness?

I suspect Robert Thomas, a former Colorado State University student who worked for Richard Heene, nailed the answer in an article he wrote for Gawker:
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and I think in this case the desperation was too much for Richard to bear. Richard's construction business wasn't doing too well. It's hard to find people interested in spending money on the aesthetics of their home when they're worried about their mortgage.
The family of  the boy who wasn't in the UFO is a modern day "canary in a cage."  It signals a people in crisis.

1 comment:

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