Hurricanes And ISIS

REUTERS/Phelan Ebenhack

Paul H. Yarbrough Freelance Writer
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In an era of sound and script laced with accepted vulgarity (when I was in sixth grade I was sent to the principal’s office for telling a guy to “get off your can’”) it stretches the bounds of self-discipline to not refer to some of these “journalists” as dumb asses. So for the sake of the old days I will, for the extent of this article, mask them as DA or DAs.

I have lived on the Gulf Coast all of my life (Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas) and have had first-hand experiences to greater or lesser degree with at least a dozen Hurricanes. The recent monster, Hurricane Matthew, which has sadly, at this writing, resulted in the deaths of several hundred people, mostly in the Bahamas and Haiti, with its natural effects (not impact) destroying property probably in the billions. Each time another storm forms the wild-eyed DAs are beside themselves with stage presence and magic. With glee and stupidity (they actually walk around on the beach in the rain, wind and lightning while telling others to evacuate) they race to wherever the storm is coming to advise those who live there on what to do.

And Matthew, unfortunately, has again brought out the usual suspects of DAs from every cable news outlet, network news (all based in the great cosmopolitan city of you-know-where) and radio-on-the-spot reporters to hype, in the name of reporting, to an extent that John’s Book of Revelation with inclusive warnings seem as smooth as the calming effects (not impact) of a field of ambrosia bound in verse by the Homeric poets (that’s my hype).

I did not record each variety of screech and roar so it is difficult to quote verbatim but a few of the constant soundings are permanent acoustic imprints on my mind: “It will Kill you!”; “It will kill everybody unless you are lucky. And it will kill your kids (children, I guess he meant) too!”; “I am going to ask this woman if she expects us to pay for her funeral”; “Entire cities are under water!“; “This is not hype, it is life or death!;” (that from a national cable weather gal). One blonde DA spoke of the horrors of the storm surge for two minutes then turned and ask someone “What is a storm surge for those of us who don’t know?”

One radio reporter DA I heard, apparently standing out in the rain (as all DAs do–they can’t watch through a window I guess) actually shouted, “…and the palm trees are completely horizontal from the wind!” Wouldn’t that mean that the trees are lying on the ground?

It is amazing what comes from the mouths of these DAs.  They are (because they really are such) like Hollywood actors. Unless a script is written they have no clear thought and even then the script might not be clear thought. The difference is (no, not pay—both categories are enriched much beyond their gray matter) the DAs make it up as they go. With little to draw on, almost anything comes out. Such as: “The worst has passed so the people can start coming out—by people I mean first responders.”  If first responders are the only “people” who (or what) occupied the place before? Totem poles?

But this is typical from what I observe: Scream and yowl regardless of the authentic elements of the condition. This will get you recognition as a top-notch reporter (okay, okay, a journalist—neither is accurate as I tried to indicate above) on any story.

For example, the ISIS nuts (or Al-Qaeda, or whom or whatever) are certainly dangerous psychopaths, but the news promotions far extend the caliber of the problem. Chicago is a greater breeding ground for bloodshed and mayhem than the random criminal acts (again, I know — attacks) of Islamic fanatics.

Again, as a boy, I recall listening to the single Philco radio in our living room. It played daily for the short soap operas my grandmother often listened to. At the break there would be some news usually centered on the Mississippi Farm Report. The announcer, Farmer Jim Neal, would calmly report on prices, up or down, for cotton, corn, hogs, etc. Farmers truly had life and death concerns coming from those prices. But Farmer Jim spoke composed, unruffled and often gave a short, sometimes humorous homily at the end of his report. Never did he shriek, scream or blare dire warnings to his friends and neighbors. He truly was a reporter.

Each day as the sun rises, as it always has, the squads of acting-reporting — “journalizing” — each squad member wearing fresh makeup, smiling into the camera lights, verbalizing with their weak syntax, redundant remarks and glorious, glamorous and chimerical thoughts shout to the rooftops of impending doom somewhere, somehow. This is not news. It is dance. It is dumb.