A day in the life of the armageddon

The guy was nuts.

You knew this instantly. He had pinwheel eyes, an absurdist manifesto (humans OUT of planet earth!) and deadly weapons. Worse, he had hostages and for a few hours there it seemed pretty touch-and-go.

Even if you sympathized with some aspects of his crusade (I don’t like the Discovery channel either), there was no thread of logic to follow, no rational debate to engage. Just three possible outcomes: Cops talk him down and everyone is OK; Cops go in guns blazing and kill the guy; Cops go in guns blazing and lots of people get killed.

Ultimately we get option #2, a relatively okay outcome (too bad about the crazy guy, but…) and life goes on.

But what a life. Within minutes Matt Drudge was up and politicizing everything, referring to the lunatic as  an “environmental extremist,” as if his wack reaction to “An Inconvenient Truth” was clearly the fault of whale-lovers everywhere. Media insiders set to debating who covered the story first, or best, or worst. Is it cool for a TV producer to maneuver for an exclusive with the hostage-taker while the cops are actively trying to stop him from killing people? I’d think not, but I also think there’s something nauseous about CNN’s appeals, via its homepage, for actual hostages (and/or on-scene witnesses) to Tweet/email/dial in newsbreaks to them, in real time. You could be a star, kid! Maybe Rick Sanchez would send you an autographed copy of his autobiography!

None of this is cool, but that doesn’t mean it’s not biz as usual. Consider the guy’s apocolyptic perspective on the world’s environmental crisis. Is the end of the world really upon us? Not quite, but you’d never know given what you hear day in and out. That vast population of Worst People in the World; the hordes of incoming aliens, the worst-ever president, the country lost in darkness for untold years, decades, centuries. Right up until last Sunday, and the Lincoln Memorial annointment of the mystery 8-year-old George Washington 2.0.

None of which does anything to ease the next hostage-taker’s rampant psychosis (who’s got time to debate, let alone form and find a way to pay for, coherent treatment options for America’s mentally ill?) More and better guns will continue to be available, minus background checks, for anyone able to pinwheel to their friendly neighborhood gun show. These are real problems, with life and death stakes. But in a hate-based media eocnomy it’s hard to get a word in until the bullets start to fly.

At which point you can Tweet it straight to CNN and become a media hero. So there’s that, at least.

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