Editorial: On the scale of things
July 16, 2011
When public consciousness is transfixed on something like the Casey Anthony verdict for weeks on end, and by comparison, an important event like the U.S. killing bin Laden wanes after a day or two, it’s a sad commentary on society’s interest. The frenzy over the seemingly trivial and overlooking the important is a trap most of us easily fall into.
It was the new trial of the century: a high-profile crime, 33 days of testimony, 400 pieces of evidence, and more than 90 witnesses, with each thread and detail relentlessly scrutinized by the media bent on feeding the public appetite.
No matter where you were or what you were doing, it seemed no one could escape the pull of Casey Anthony, a Florida woman who was accused of killing her child.
Craig and Moffat County, isolated in its own little corner of the world, wasn't immune.
After the not guilty verdict came down, interest and outrage jumped to a whole new level. A clever bit of marketing mixed with humor by a local restaurant was a microcosm of how the Anthony case gripped America.
J.W. Snack's Bar & Grill posted a message on its outside marquee — "Casey and O.J. sitting in a tree, killing," putting an adult spin on a children's playground phrase. Some said the sign was in poor taste, and others laughingly agreed.
It's a commentary on our society that something like the Anthony trial can so completely capture America's interest for so long when, by comparison, an event like the U.S. finding and eliminating Osama bin Laden produces a mild notice for a day or two before the cycle runs dry.
Which was more important on the scale of things?
True, a dead child was at the center of the Anthony case, a tragic fact that shouldn't be overlooked.
But, bin Laden killed thousands of Americans behind the 9/11 attacks, had tried to kill numerous other times, and would have killed again had our military not taken him out.
Perhaps the imbalance between one story and the other is explained because one topic is sexier than the other, or perhaps one is more easily digestible. Or, maybe more accurately, perhaps our society today just doesn't have a very good compass when it comes to determining what's important versus what borders on tabloid.
Don't consider the Editorial Board snobbish with this opinion.
Several of our board members were caught in the same Anthony frenzy as many other people, and the best evidence of this is the board's discussion Monday, which centered on the case and the cultural craze it stirred, took up most of our meeting.
We all seemingly slip into the same trap, and the disparity between what we choose to care about and not are a sad reflection of eroding values.