Kay B. Day freelance correspondent, author, speaker
Shooting ourselves in the foot by Kay B. Day Jotting a list of errands today, I turned on the TV to catch a news update. I clicked the volume on the remote just in time to hear Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell express condolences to the families of Amish students brutally murdered in cold blood. He asked everyone to pray for the victims and the families. And then, just like many other Americans these days, he shot us in the foot, figuratively speaking of course. I’m paraphrasing, but he stated in so many words that “we,” meaning the people of the United States, are the most violent society in the world. He followed up with a suggestion that guns are the problem. I yelled “Gimme a break” so loud it set my hound dog to barking. I’m paraphrasing my response here. No one else was around, so my actual words were far more expressive. Rendell is not the first to make a statement that set me to yelling and the hound to baying. I had a similar reaction as soon as I heard Bill Clinton state he’d tried to get Osama Bin Laden. Had Oliver North not beat me to the keyboard at Townhall.com, I’d have pounded out 900 words explaining why a former president doesn’t have to share details of what must have been a sensitive operation involving assassination several years after the fact. And on the heels of these upheavals, Mark Foley spun instant messages on the Internet that read like a movie that if produced would be available at one of those seedy adult film stores. What is it, I wonder, about public officials and rock stars? I hear constant complaints about how America is perceived in other parts of the world, even despised by those we have helped to feed and provide healthcare for. While we should be truthful about information that matters, such as Foley’s actions, we should make sure we’re accurate about what we’re spouting to the rest of the world. The many countries with prohibitions against freedom of expression are clueless when it comes to understanding American media. Yesterday’s clips vanish from our minds quickly. But scandal is fodder for those who hate us, and they will not read between any lines other than their own. American media is the most powerful recruiting tool available to those who want to harm our country. We need to improve our media skills as well as our public behavior. The term “global village” has become a universal buzz word. It’s time for us to see past that phrase to its meaning, and adjust our attitudes accordingly. Take the issue of violence in our global village. The World Health Organization provides some interesting statistics about violence in a 2002 report. “On a global scale,” the study notes, “violence kills 1.6 million people a year.” These are the ones they know about. I’m doubting there’s an accurate account of the dead, for instance, in Darfur. “Contrary to the impression given by the media,” the report continues, “the largest number of violent deaths in 2000 was due…to suicide: 815,000 cases…one suicide every forty seconds.” The report further notes Latin America has the highest homicide rate among people whose age ranges between ten and twenty-nine years—36.5 per 100,000. Not even Jacksonville where I live tops that. We do have a homicide problem and while it impacts our whole community, according to an official city report A Strategy for Reducing Murder, killings “tend to cluster in certain high poverty areas.” Only someone who lives under a rock would be surprised by such a finding. I’ve often thought all government officials should be required to take a course called “Think.” Because when we open our mouth in an international broadcast, or transmit personal sexual longings on the Internet, our actions have an impact that goes far beyond the individual. And if we’re talking passionately about assassination, a reality check is in order. Considering the quantity of information revealed by former officials of all persuasion, it’s a wonder we have any security at all. What I’d suggest to anyone serving in government is a reality check. And while I’m at it, do not, please, blame the media for revelations. In a free society, it is the media’s job to find out as much information as possible. The media doesn’t create leaks; it simply markets them. Information is a product. I’d suggest common sense. My hound dog will appreciate the quiet. And so will I. Meanwhile, I’m hoping we don’t see another macaque around here. The hound really goes wild when he sees one. After all, he is a hunting dog.