The News That Isn’t

Tonight I watched a little of the Dateline NBC special interview with the parents and sister of Laci Peterson, the California woman who was brutally murdered along with her unborn child last December. Katie Couric asked the usual inane questions of the family which mostly consisted of “How did you feel when _____________?”

What is disturbing about news pieces like this is that there is so little news involved in the piece. The entire story revolved around how grief stricken this family was, as if this would be news to anyone.

Of course, we know that news is not the true intent of the piece. A piece like this is only effective in the realm of sensationalism. The story is a sensational and particularly heinous one–don’t get me wrong. However, the way in which the media keep poring over the same details repeatedly is more than extreme.

If fact, such sensationalism actually lessens the impact of such a story. The same details are brought up over and over until they don’t really have any significance to us anymore. This is important with the Laci Peterson story because it deals in a very real way with the presence of evil in the world. Total depravity is a hard doctrine to refute on the basis of the daily news, much less on the basis of the biblical support.

When the extremely evil becomes familiar, a change in perception is likely to take place. Take, for example, the occasional tendency for kidnapping victims to form an attachment to their captors. The danger we all face is becoming so familiar with evil that good looks foreign to us.

Evil should be recognized and given its proper place, but it should never be celebrated. For in the celebration of evil, a new idolatry is formed, and the reverence that is due God is shifted to the sensationalized evil.

I have visited Krakow, Poland on two occasions. The first time, I toured the Auschwitz prison camp and all its associated horrors. It was a heavy experience for me and I recommend all to go, despite the gloominess. Several years later, I found myself again in Krakow, and facing another opportunity to visit Auschwitz. The second time I declined. I felt that to go again would be somehow irreverent.

Something heavy with evil should be faced, but it should not be celebrated and idolized, lest it affect us too much. Let us not give up the pursuit of justice, but let us lay Laci and Conner Peterson to rest.