As some of you know, I frequently refer to
A lot has been said since the collapse of the
Second, the tragedy at I35W was not as shocking as it might initially have appeared, for over the years, that bridge had earned one lousy report card after another. This is surely what is baffling the families who are mourning their loved ones. People knew that the bridge had problems, significant problems, and yet it never underwent comprehensive repair. How could that have happened? Again, the answer is clear. We don’t like to pay taxes to fund government projects, we don’t like giving up our creature comforts (and there’s nothing less comfortable than an excessive commute), and we have trouble believing that anything in our blessed land isn’t safe. It will probably take a few more tragedies, but as our Empire slowly continues to go the ways of Ancient Rome and Her Majesty’s
Third, there was a heck of a lot fewer casualties on I35W than anyone would have possibly imagined given the number of cars on the bridge at the time of collapse. Engineers could explain why the structural nature of the bridge and the slow speed of the cars traveling on it minimized both the possibility that cars would be crushed by steel and the opportunity for cars to leave the bridge and head into the water. But I’m no engineer, so I won’t even try to explain the basis for the “Minneapolis Miracle.”
All of that said, what has moved me the most this week is the reaction of the passers by who witnessed the tragedy. Time and time again, non-professionals jumped into the water in an attempt to rescue victims before it was too late. Keep in mind, this is the Mississippi River we’re talking about,
The locals call it “Minnesota Nice.” You remember the stereotype – it was lampooned so brilliantly by the Coen Brothers in the movie
Frankly, what happened in the water near the source of the
So what do we learn from all this? I say, we realize an opportunity when it presents itself. Remember that controversial “Fairness Doctrine” – the now defunct FCC regulation that forced broadcast licensees to take a balanced approach whenever airing issues of public significance? I say, we need a Fairness Doctrine of a different kind. Imagine a year in which all cable news networks decided that for every 15 minutes they devoted to discussing some sleazebag allegedly doing immoral things (be it OJ, Monica, Brittany, Lindsay, Michael Vick, Michael Jackson … the list could surely go on for pages), they would have to devote another 15 minutes to individuals who:
(a) stop for cars who are stuck off the side of the road,
(b) join volunteer fire departments,
(c) pass up lucrative careers to become teachers or nurses,
(d) work at soup kitchens for ten hours or more a week …
You get the idea. I want to know more about them – what kind of family they’re from, why they do what they do, who serves as their role models, and what philosophy guides them through life. And I want them treated realistically, not introduced by some plastic bimbo who patronizes them with phony smiles and inane platitudes.
In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, we need a third Fairness Doctrine. For every 15 minutes where we have to watch a woman on cable news who clearly got her job because of her looks, we should be able to watch a woman on cable news who clearly got her job in spite of her looks.
And before I forget, the next time this nation goes into war, for every 15 minutes where we have to watch some in-bedded reporter talk about how we’re kicking ass and taking numbers or some retired ex-general marvel at our transcendent weapons technology, we need to watch interviews of peace marchers and others, like me, who tend to support wars only once in a really, really blue moon.
Hmmm. I’m beginning to think that we could benefit from all sorts of Fairness Doctrines. I’m not big on the Government imposing them on our “free press.” But perhaps when all our media outlets become controlled by the same multi-billionaire, I’ll take the trip to his penthouse office and lobby him personally. Hey, maybe he’ll be a benign despot, and we’ll finally have the media that our democracy deserves.