Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Read all about it? Or not.
This might sound strange coming from a news reporter, but I don't like to read the news.
My life is already so stressful, that whenever I hear or read about something horrifically tragic, I get way too emotionally involved. I just can't handle it.
There are too many murders. Too many freak accidents. Too many victims.
Whenever I learn about a horrible incident, I obsess over it. The story doesn't leave my mind, and I wallow in it for the rest of the day.
For example, about one month ago, I happened upon a story about a mentally disabled janitor who was the helpless victim of mistaken identity. His name was Otto.
Police had been notified that a man matching Otto's description had stolen money from an ATM at a convenience store.
Enter poor Otto. Apparently his usual routine had been to always buy a soda and Snickers bar from that store, after work. Unfortunately, he happened to be doing that when someone stole money from the ATM machine. The police arrived at the store, saw Otto, and without any warning, they struck him seven times in eight seconds with a baton and stun-gunned him to the ground.
The officers hogtied Otto, put a rubber mask over his mouth, and sat on him. Otto literally had no idea what was going on, while he was being brutally tortured. When officers taunted him, he breathlessly insisted he hadn't done anything wrong. He eventually lost consciousness.
The police later determined that he had not committed any crime.
He died the next day from his injuries.
Otto's last words had been "All I wanted was a Snickers bar."
A few weeks ago, the main officer at the scene was sentenced to only four years in prison for the wrongful torture and murder of Otto. Figure that one out.
I had the misfortune of reading this article before bed. It haunted me.
I felt sick to my stomach, thinking about poor Otto. I couldn't sleep. I tossed and I turned, my hate for those police officers and my fury at the world in general growing with every hour.
At 3 a.m. that night, Rian was astonished to turn on the light to see me curled up in my rocking chair across the room, sobbing.
"All he wanted was a Snickers bar," I wailed.
So, I stay away from the news.
Fortunately, as a reporter, I cover local government. I'll write a 20-inch article on rezoning ordinances over a brutal murder any day.
I think what freaks me out the most is that it seems like there is more bad news these days than good. Did we always have so many mass shootings? This many domestic violence killings? Police brutality?
Or maybe our ability to access every news story in the world only makes us feel that way. The internet has made the world seem much smaller. And more dangerous.
I'm not sure what's worse: being bombarded with every tragedy in the world or living in blissful ignorance.
So, am I the only one relieved that the big news story this week is Kate's pregnancy?