Tuesday, November 04, 2014

How the mighty have fallen

Within living memory a murder was a newspaper story, but a suicide wasn't. Even today, the Surgeon General urges that reporters avoid glamorizing suicides. But one suicide over the weekend, who I leave nameless and unlinked-to, is being widely hyped as saintly. From the similarity of statements on Facebook I gather people are quoting approved talking points: "a moral choice", "a good person", "brave". Other people with cancer aren't so happy about it: it devalues their lives in others' eyes.

It is hard to avoid the suspicion that the hype is powered by a blend of "Please don't be a bother to us" and "I can't conceive of anything more to life than experience", with maybe more than just a touch of "Don't be an expense to us." Not that this is the attitude of the people commenting on Facebook, but . . .

“Why you fool, it's the educated reader who CAN be gulled. All our difficulty comes with the others. When did you meet a workman who believes the papers? He takes it for granted that they're all propaganda and skips the leading articles. He buys his paper for the football results and the little paragraphs about girls falling out of windows and corpses found in Mayfair flats. He is our problem. We have to recondition him. But the educated public, the people who read the high-brow weeklies, don't need reconditioning. They're all right already. They'll believe anything.”
― C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

1 comment:

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I recall at college attending a frat event at which a small collection of guys by the kegs would smile, lean in toward each other, and say "PARTY!" I thought: If you have to keep reminding yourself it's party, it isn't. So too with morality. People feel obliged to point out to us repeatedly that this is moral, brave, and good because they worry that it isn't really.