Thursday, February 28, 2008


The old guy listens to the radio. A lot of old guys listen because they can't stand the noise of the television and because their eyes no longer show them the world. This particular old guy's vision went to static then to black a little more than a year ago. He's not accustom to it. In his 80s, he resents having to rely on other people to find the front door to his house.
"I listen to the radio," he said. "I listen all day long and it amazes me: parents kill their children, children kill each other. It didn't used to be that way."
I try to point out that's not really true. The media is better at reporting crime than they used to be. We hear about murders, fires and even assaults in other states now and often the same day they happen.
I told him radio stations are driven by ratings and the need to make more people listen longer to turn a buck. Tragedy sells. People listen longer when they think they might here something they need to know. It's very fear based.
He nodded.
"I'm sure that's true," he told me politely.
He was silent after that. He didn't believe me.
I considered what I might believe if I was only a blind old man who only listened to local talk radio. I would only know what was filtered down by different interests who decided for me what was important and what wasn't. The world could seem like a terrible and evil place. It might seem like the entire world had lost its way in the time when I stopped watching it and could only listen to what other people wanted me to hear.
It's hard not to be blind.


Anonymous said...

I must disagree. While it's true that man has always committed unspeakable sins against man, there was less of it in the old mans day. People were afraid of cops back then. Judges handed out jail terms like we hand out probation today. Even more so, people tended to "take care of business" a lot more in his day: Mess with someones little girl, and you may not live to see tomorrow. Today, people call the law. The point is that more people were afraid to commit the kinds of crimes we see today "back in the day". Today, they know at worse, they'll be housed at a "Holiday Inn " with air conditioning and color TV. Some actually LIKE it there.

The ONLY place I might agree with you is parental sexual abuse. It happened more often "back in the day".. and maybe has continued to a great degree... but now as it gets reported more and more, with stiffer penalties, hopefully this will reverse.

primalscreamx said...

I would disagree... More crimes get committed because there are more laws, particularly drug laws and information technology laws. More crimes are reported because it's easier to get the word out and have it spread.

Also a hundred or even fifty or sixty years ago, a lot of stuff plain didn't get reported. Crimes against minorities, for example, didn't always make the papers, particularly in the south or southwest. Rape was harder to prove and prosecute. It was also said to be reported less because of social stigmas attached to it.

Not much further back (100 years), society was pretty liquid. People could pick up and disappear, skip town to avoid debts, a shitty marriage or a crime. It happened, and complicated things like if someone was dead or not.

I don't believe the good ol days were really that good. Nothing I've seen points to that. There is a tendency for every generation to remember their virtues, but try to forget their sins.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but when I say 'crime", I mean violent crime. And when I talk about crime, I mean crime around here, and possibly in general. Sure, you can choose pockets of crime in the South, or even the Gangsters in Chicago, but I'm talking about over-all violence "on the average" across America.

It's really easy to prove: As a 12 and 13 year old, I could deliver the Sunday newspaper at 2am in the worst parts of Charleston (the back end of town, most of it Black) without fear. You never heard of someones kid being abducted. Neighbors watched out for neighbors...AND the neighbors kids. These people wouldn't think twice about grabbing some kid by the arm and marching him a couple of blocks to his parents home foe some infraction. Today, we avoid our neighbors, don't even know who the hell they are and don't WANT to know. See a kid do something bad and you hide behind the curtain because should you turn him in, his rotten parents will either kick your ass or sue you. The law wont bother him at all because he's "a juvenile".

So while the reporting of crime may be up, it's only because we've become too cowardly to handle the situation ourselves.

primalscreamx said...

Can't agree, dude. I think most of the tension is self-imposed and is media shock.
By most indications, Charleston is a lot safer than it was fifteen, twenty years ago when the open beverage rule was different --and when was the last time anyone sprayed bullets at the capitol? Sure, guys with chemical dosage problems have gone for a drive on the lawn, crashed into things, but nobody is shooting at the buildings.
It's what you think you see and what you remember, not what you actually see and what really happened.

Anonymous said...

It became dangerous when we emptied the mental institutions and put them on the streets. It because dangerous when the law allowed criminals to go free over and over again. Case in point: Harrold Douglas Gunnoe. Stabs a nurse to death in Winfield, gets caught and ADMITS to the murder. Gets life without mercy. Is turned lose in 2 years. Kills ANOTHER woman from the YWCA. This same scenario is played out over and over a thousand times a day. Maybe not with murderers, but with thugs and criminals that you nor your wife and kids would want to confront. Probably 1/3 of the people who pass by you right now has a record. (and that's not even counting politicians). Because these people know that they have "the law" on their side, it's a cake walk to mess someone up really bad and do 6 months (or nothing) for their trouble. (think Randy Moss).

No... it's a whole new world out there. And where the bad guys used to be scared of the police, not they laugh or them or worse... fight them. So people know that as it stands right now, it's every man for himself. Someday when you get a little older, you'll understand it also.

primalscreamx said...

Getting old is over-rated, man.

Anonymous said...

No shit :)