Friday, January 26, 2007

Not Funny At All

I work in a television newsroom and we do stories on all sorts of dreadful things. And there are very few stories that we can’t make jokes about.

I, for one, can make, and have made, tasteless comments about anything, anyone, any disease or tragedy. It’s not because I don’t care or am mean. It’s just part of the way I pretend that the terrible things that I write about every day aren’t real.

Sometimes a sensitive soul will say “oh that’s awful… how can you say that?”

My justification is that my cynical, snide, or dark humored comment doesn’t make the plight worse for anyone involved in the story, yet it keeps me and my coworkers from curling up in the fetal position.

"What if it was your mother?" It’s not… and it’s not your mother either. If it is, I’ll shut up.

And truly, if you don’t laugh you cry.

I have cried. The Oklahoma City bombing was tough. What you didn’t see at home were the pictures from the daycare center as firefighters pulled young children out.

We all remember 9/11.

And being in New Orleans was brutal for the first few days. But, once the exhaustion kicked in, we could laugh about anything again. Someday I’ll write about the dog and the corpse. Good times.

This week we’re covering the sort of story about which there are no jokes. We just hear more and more of the details and our jaws hang open.

A grown man and two female cohorts, accused of sexually assaulting children over a period of several years. Some of the victims were infants.

Are you kidding me?

How is that possible? How can a human being see anything sexual in little children? How can a human being look at an infant and get turned on?

How does a guy get a couple of friends to help him carry out the sick plan?

Of the three people involved, how could not a single one think, “hmmm, this is a crime against humanity and all that’s good and natural in this world”?

Fortunately for everyone in the world, stories like this don’t happen very often. And that is why it’s news. Fortunately for us in the newsrooms this doesn’t happen very often, or we wouldn’t be able to come to work.

And the truth is, if I couldn’t pretend a little that a lot of the bad stuff I write about everyday had a little bit of humor in it, I wouldn’t ever be able to come to work.

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