Thursday, February 03, 2005


I heard it again today while wandering through channels on TV..."Brutally murdered".

Brutally, mind you. As if someone could be, oh, gently murdered? Tenderly murdered? Respectfully murdered?

Murder in inherently brutal, isn't it? But we have to tack on those adverbs, or it's just another mundane loss of life to violence. A tragedy is devastating -- other tragedies are just inconvenient on the general awfulness scale.

I think we have become innured to words. We are so bombarded with voices, each trying to attract our attention, our sympathy, our anger, our money, we no longer hear what is said in the same way. A murder is ordinary. A brutal, cruel, tragic murder is an event evoking our sympathy and perhaps our action.

There's a phrase for it Hyperbole, it's called. Exaggeration. It's been used as a journalistic technique for easily 200 years, very likely more. Everyone pays attention to the biggest, brightest, baddest, most "est" whatever.

Until everything is at that particular extreme point, at which time it becomes mundane and common, so the line has to be moved further off. And it starts again.

Are we becoming increasingly hard to reach? Possibly. There is so much more horror to which we are exposed that perhaps we do it to protect ourselves. Where once the average person was isolated to a fairly small area and group, and subject only to the tragidies and miseries of that group, now we can voyeuristically partake of tragedy from everywhere. While all are equal in tragedy, the individual only has so much attention and emotional strength. So we grade what we see, catagorize it, lump it into groups of lesser and greater. We must, to survive it.

And those who want our attention compete for it at ever higher volume, with increasing amounts of hyperbole. Our ability to grasp the world, to deal with it, to live, is at risk from the constant pummeling. We raise out walls, and we strive harder to breach those walls, and we raise those walls again.

A brutal murder.

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