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Making mountains out of molehills

If you were guided by the amount of newspaper space or television time devoted to any given topic these days, you would come away with the impression that our society is devoted to trivia, and that the issues that really affect our lives are of little consequence. The glaring example during the past month was the absurd obsession with JonBenet Ramsey and John Mark Karr. At least half of TV news time, and six out of nine pages of news coverage in the first section of the Aug. 18 Denver Post were devoted exclusively to those subjects. And it didn’t end there.The fact that so much time and space were taken up with such sordid sensationalism is a sad commentary on the priorities of both the public, and of the media, who slavishly cater to the lowest level of public taste instead of fulfilling what should be their mission of elevating public awareness of issues of importance. Was there nothing else going on in the world that deserved more of the time and space that was devoted to JonBenet and John Karr? And in the end, it turned out to be nothing more than a tempest in a teapot.I also find it appalling that 85 percent of the 24 pages in the first section of a recent Denver Post was used for advertising – less than four pages were used to report the news. Isn’t there some better use for the trees that are being converted into newsprint? But I digress.Other news stories during the past few weeks have exposed the triviality of what seems to be important to certain segments of society. I am referring to the demand for painting over a mural in the new Coal Ridge High School, showing Prometheus bringing fire to mankind, as though this depiction of a story from Greek mythology would undermine the religious upbringing and morality of the youth who walk the corridors of that school. I fault Principal Jeanie Humble for caving in to such a ludicrous demand, and the school board for not exercising common sense in the matter. What kind of an education are we giving our children if their world is to include only what glorifies Christianity and excludes everything else? And what kind of a society do we live in when a few bigoted people can impose their narrow-minded outlook on public education? Like Creationism – but that is an issue for another time.Recently we had a furor over a geography teacher who posted the flags of the United Nations, China and Mexico in a geography classroom, where incidentally, the United States flag is on permanent display. Is the patriotism of the children in this classroom, who are there to be exposed to the fact that the world is a bigger place than their school (or their hometown, or even their country), going to be subverted by the presence of other flags than our own? Or should they be taught that other countries don’t have flags?People who adopt such narrow-minded points of view seem to be grasping at straws to support their tunnel vision of the world around them. For example, there is the hue and cry over the so-called morning-after pill, which is claimed will encourage promiscuous behavior. Don’t these people, most of whom vigorously oppose abortion, realize that unwanted pregnancies are the reason for most abortions?And then there is the ridiculous example set by members of Congress, who for entirely political reasons, are beating the drum for a constitutional amendment making flag burning a crime. This truly trivializes the process by which our country nobly ended slavery and empowered women to vote. Aren’t there other issues that are more deserving of our attention?Our society and the communication media that feed it seem to go out of their way to look for opportunities to create much ado about nothing.


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