I’ve got this little Google News feed on my home page, it gives me the five biggest stories aggregated from papers around the world each day. And every day since Monday, there’s been something about the Josef Fritzl story.
Granted, it’s pretty much the most fucked-up thing in the world. If you haven’t heard about it by now, and you’re just reading the article for the first time, I’ll give you a minute to get over the “oh my god” factor involved in this case. It’s terrifying, I mean, it’s one of those “true life is worse than horror movies” sort of stories. Eeurgh.
BUT! Does it deserve a place in the news? No! It’s a case of a few people. This guy should get sent to jail for life without parole. The victims should all get all the medical, therapeutic, emotional, and educational help possible. A few other loose ends need to be connected: apparently he was a convicted sex offender and then he adopted a kid; how did that happen? and so on. And then the case should be closed. Just like the OJ Simpson case, just like every other macabre story the media drums up.
What’s the rationale behind plastering this story on the front pages of newspapers worldwide? If you have an argument that it’s not just sensationalism, let me know. The world is fearful enough without these awful tales lurking in your mind. And poor Austria: this story is being reported as the “Austria dungeon case” or whatever. Will tourism to Austria take a hit? Will people start thinking of this beautiful country (I’ve been there, it’s beautiful, and the people are friendly too) as “the kind of place where people lock their incestuous families in horrific dungeons”? Crime there is no worse than anywhere else; in fact, judging by these stats, it seems like a safe place. (the only high rates are for suicides and rapes, both in small 20-country studies, and data for rapes tends to be unreliable, I guess)
The poor family too! I’m sure they’re keeping the media away from them, but meanwhile people are gawking at the whole thing. In coordination with Julie Brown’s plea to leave Britney Spears alone, I’d like to ask everyone to leave this poor family alone. Seriously.
And do not be afraid of scary guys locking incestuous families in horrific dungeons. It happened once. Be more afraid of getting hit by a car. You run the risk of THAT every day.
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