Sunday, March 11, 2007


Let me see if I understand what people have been telling me over the years about our society: (1) everyone's out for themselves; (2) everyone's all about "the money"; (3) Jews, in particular, are all about "the money;" (4) if "they" say it's not about the money, then for sure it's about the money; (5) the society has gone litigation crazy; and (6) Jews, in particular, are litigious.

Did I get that right?

Well then, assuming I did, someone has to explain to me the behavior of the family of the recently slain New York Times journalist, David E. Rosenbaum. As reported by the Washington Post on March 9th, Rosenbaum, who was 63, died of a brain injury after "he was pounded on the head with a metal pipe by robbers who accosted him during an evening walk. He then was mistakenly treated as a drunk by D.C. firefighters and other emergency workers, who failed to notice his severe head wound." The Post reported that the event prompted the Rosenbaum estate to file a $20 million suit against the city, which legal experts thought could have been worth millions. Instead of pursuing the case, however, the family agreed to forgo any payment if the city overhauls its emergency medical response system in an effort to prevent future mistakes like the one that cost Rosenbaum his life.

Are the Rosenbaums crazy? They seem to be giving up millions of dollars that their family surely could have used. Rosenbaum had two adult children, and I'm guessing that they might have had children as well. Couldn't they use money?

I doubt that this is national news. I doubt that the media thinks the American public would want to hear much about the Rosenbaum family. But I at least find them interesting. They appear to value the welfare of faceless strangers (potential future victims of street crimes and accidents in the District of Columbia) above their own family's wealth. I'd like to know why they're doing this. I'd like to know whether other families have acted in similar ways. And I'd like to see the national media devote lots of air time to stories like this and not to all the latest scandals.

Just think how different our society would be if television news was more fascinated by the Rosenbaums -- and what the District of Columbia is doing to appease them -- and less by the Paris Hiltons of the world. We might actually watch TV to gain inspiration from unusually virtuous people rather than to stroke our egos by contrasting ourselves to yet another troubled celebrity or hypocritical politician.

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