17 August 2006

Whew. After weeks of bloodshed in the Middle East, grim stories about the global AIDS epidemic, and partisan wrangling over Iraq, it's nice to see that the media has given us a nice distraction for a day.

This raises a question for me, though. How, exactly, do murders become national news? JonBenet was an easy case, because of all the beauty pageant weirdness. But I can never figure out how the national media select, out of the thousands of murders that take place every year, the choice few to scrutinize and sensationalize. Is it the attractiveness of the victim? The existence of a bizarre side plot? The extraordinary brutality of the killing? The race of the victim/perpetrator? (White perpetrators seem to be sensationalized more, perhaps because white people can relate to them better and don't just see them as thugs.) From my minimal personal experience with the criminal justice system, I would say that there are plenty of murders every bit as brutal that never get attention. For the life of me I never knew why anyone paid attention to Scott Peterson, except for the wrinkle that Laci was pregnant. Is there something I'm missing?

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