Friday, April 01, 2005


With the last bit of profit wrung from the passion of Terry Schaivo, the media looked anxiously around for its next obsession, trusting that just as Diana succeeded O.J. and Jackson followed Monica, some fundamentally trivial but sensational happening would provide the occasion for a fresh round of moral theater featuring artificially sweetened sentiment, recreational grief, and/or fabricated anger. It didn’t have to wait even a day. I guess it is appropriate that the Catholic Church got around to supplying the entertainment this time since the papacy pioneered the creation and exploitation of emotional hysteria. St. Bernardino, the Rush Limbaugh of the 16th century, could have stepped into a job at Fox without a moment of further training. Of course the death of a very old and very sick man is not remarkable or tragic; but properly spun it can supply yet another way to deflect public attention from important issues, including, in the case, the very important and very problematic things John Paul II did when he wasn’t dying.

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