I'll Pretend If You Will
Oddly enough, I saw this the other night: Teen Fatally Stabbed at Oak Forest Party
Well, saw in the sense that I mosied past the scene, watched the crowd, wondered what happened as an ambulance pulled away. It's a quiet burb, and something like this doesn't happen very often. I've even been in that very house, many, many years ago at a classmate's third grade birthday party.
The story, of course, is the usual rundown you often get. Nice kid, well-liked, killed tragically. Fairly cursory media coverage.
Then there is the comments section on the newspaper's website. They've since done some scrubbing, but it was kind of amazing that the commenters were explaining what happened in far more depth and detail than the reporters. The deleted comments laid out a story of drug dealers, cocaine, and money gone wrong. What's stranger is the editorial choice to clean the comments about the victim while leaving intact the one about the suspect.
It's just interesting how we report these things. Assuming the deleted comments were truish (and they seemed plausible to me from what I know of the situation), it seems we often scrub the bad out of any seedy story, pretend as if these events are random and unexplainable. As if a drug deal gone wrong is as unavoidable as a bolt of lightning falling from the sky. With Chicago sunk deep into an epidemic of youth murders and violence, the local media seem to have elevated this sort of papering over to an art form. One story last year detailed a twelve or thirteen year-old kid murdered for cash. The coverage was the usual "My baby was a nice boy and never did anything wrong." Flowers, vigils, the victim well-liked and friendly, smiling in school photos.
And partially running an illegal gambling ring with ties to drugs and gang violence.
But they'll get to that. Eventually. After everyone has moved on to the next tragic story.
Isn't part of solving a problem admitting you have one in the first place? If the media can barely bring themselves to mention the causes for the violence, why do they keep pretending to ask what they are in those banal, soul-searching editorials about the horror and mystery of it all?
I'm all for sensitivity to victims, but at some point the constant, pitying whitewashing starts working against uncovering what is wrong with this city.