It was a rather remarkable lunch this week; a couple of guys who have know each other for 63-years – been friends the whole time – and are still learning from one-another’s adventures in Life.
We somehow got onto the topic of suicide. My pal, being a retired Army major in the mental health care field, had a lot to say about suicide, not that I can remember how the topic came up.
But when he was stationed at The Presidio in the mid to late 1980’s, he relayed the research there of a very bright Lt. Col. who had studied jumpers off the Golden Gate Bridge.
During one of his presentations on his research (in the days before PowerPoint) what struck my chum was that virtually all except one (at the time) of the jumpers had leapt to their death on the city-facing side of the bridge.
While not sure, it was speculated that even in their most desperate and tortured final minutes, people still had some level of connection to humanity. Or, perhaps it was that there was a perception of audience – much as witnesses to their last desperate act.
Now as it turns out, our friends live in Gig Harbor – west of Tacoma and over the Tacoma Narrows Bridges.
As you would expect, people also jump off this bridge at the rate of perhaps a half-dozen, or more, per year.
Again, there is the “connection to humanity” evident. The north side of the old bridge faces an evident turn in the channel and there is a beach community. Though small, it seems to serve the same purpose (audience/witness) that the San Francisco skyline seems to present down south.
There are extremely rare jumps from the new bridge completed a few years back. No audience or witness positions to speak of, perhaps. And on the north side of the new bridge the dominant view is of the old/original bridge.
Some keen insight was gained into the real nature of people today: When traffic is narrowed to two of the four westbound lanes, it is not uncommon for people in passing cars to chant “Jump…jump…jump…”
The specific motivation is never known for sure, but the alternatives are all quite distressing: Either people are angry because of the inconvenience they of the me-me-me generation being delayed 20-minutes by traffic, or the bloodlust we have fought hard to suppress is still there and waiting to come out.
Having lived in the South for a good while, we know how institutional racism works, and now – upon hearing how people have this kind of reaction to people trying to resolve their lives through death – our confidence in the quality of our underlying humanity is deeply questioned.
That’s not the point of this morning’s discussion, but it is worth noting in passing. Because when (more than if) times ever get really rough – as in universal hunger of the Great Depression rough – our expectation is that humans will act much more violently and less humanely than in similar events in historic times.
Ruin Constitutional rule, run-up unpayable debts, throw in handfuls of multiculturalism, turn off the Melting Pot, and turn up warfare-based tribalism, and there is almost no end to the disaster we’re now able to concoct.
Amazingly, we persist in thinking of our cultural as being at some kind of never-before pinnacle of achievement. While that may be true on technology and the G4/G5 front, it’s becoming clear to us that humanity peaks as a complex waveform: Quality of Life may have peaked in the 1960s when such insensitive behavior toward potential suicides would a) never happen and b) would have been universally abhorred.
Like I said, this is our tango-uniform version of “progress” when seen in the clear light of dawn.
Which has what to do with ISIS, you’re wondering?
The local news media has an informal agreement among themselves not to report bridge jumpers.
As a result, the numbers haven’t risen, but seem rather to track generally the population and to some extent social stresses in the population in general.
Since the jumpers aren’t given press, there is less incentive to jump.
Fast forward to a Google News Search like this one. ISIS is a media circus.
At the distant end of the publicity spectrum from how suicide jumpers off the Tacoma Narrows Bridges are treated, the immature and inciting online wannabe media are scrambling over one-another to present the most gross, gory, detailed accounts of ISIS handiwork.
But Ures truly offers the thought that ISIS would be only a small fraction of the problem it is had all media, from the NY Times and WaPo on down, decided not to yield there pages to the exploits of ISIS. Especially in terms that are easy enfolded into marketing materials. Named shooters and bombers become recruiting poster children of a deranged movement.
Sadly, few – if any – of the gonzo-journos will grok the importance or honoring the public trust. But if names were withheld, the recruiting online recruiting would wither. Why join a movement that doesn’t have traction?
Turns out that the same crooked media – that holds Hillary signs and accepts scripting issued by the anti-Bernie party – is guilty of other high crimes as well; unwitting tools and fools for the recruiters of violence.
For the marketing reality is that violence against humanity is a product. This product is being monetized by governments and terrorists alike. The early “brands” – like Red Brigades – were eventually squashed. But the follow-on brands of inhumanity and death – al Qaeda and ISIS – are competing for headspace just as Folgers and Maxwell House.
We live in a sound bite world. We sell news like soap or coffee. You can see the product hand off from al Qaeda (blue) to ISIS (red) in Google Trends:
Classic product replacement.
Although Washington is nominally a “blue state” the local media here still get some things right, even as we did when in my news director days we had an informal agreement NOT to report bomb threats, either.
The online media – lacking professional ethics and driven mainly by traffic which in turn equals revenue – fails to grasp how they are used and how media doesn’t make the world a better place, but more often than not? Worse.
Thus they have become no different, no more able to claim the high ground on any topic than the drive-bys at the scene of the latest Tacoma Narrows Bridge jumper attempt.
They chant the online version of “Jump….jump….jump….”
The page counts roll. The revenue rises. And we notice how the shadow of the Tower of Babel is beginning to fall on our latter day Gomorrah.
Political Fraud: Liability?
When a party pretends to be impartial and raises money from Bernie supporters, when indeed there is some sense the “fix may have been in” with the coronation of HBil…at what point does the line into “fraud” get crossed?
At what point does it go to court and the DNC have to face the specter of a legal defense of its actions being brought to light by Wikileaks?
If I raised money from you on the basis of a false promise, would that not be fraud? So how is present circumstance different?
Write when you get rich,