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Putting Death Tolls in Perspective
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A single death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic. --Josef Stalin

I turned off Real Time with Bill Maher in disgust last night. The first thing that got my hackles up was a bit in which Maher talked about recent "white" events that Bush had been attending to "energize his base", including a Nascar race and a rodeo.

Then he asked, "How white can he go?", showing placards with images of Bush in various places. Most of them were pretty lame, but when Maher showed Bush in the center of a Klan rally...that's going a bit fucking far, ain't it?

Or are my sensibilities too delicate these days?

Well, I kept watching, because I still generally enjoy the show. What caused me to actually turn it off was a little mini-diatribe by comedian George Carlin.

He started out by talking about how whiny we had been over 9/11, and how we should "put things in perspective". Whenever I hear this shit, it makes me want to puke. Yeah, only 3,000 people died on 9/11, while thousands die from eating fatty food or driving.

No matter that they were 3,000 murders, committed simultaneously. No matter that they destroyed a center of world economic activity and blew out a side of our governmental defense building. So was grounding all the aircraft an overreaction? Would Carlin have kept all the birds in the air? Hey, only 3,000 people died.

How would Carlin like it if one of his close relatives, a child perhaps, was murdered, and someone came up to him and said, "Get over it, George...I mean, 200,000 people die in Southern Africa every year from malaria. Just put things in perspective."

Perhaps we should send Carlin overseas to counsel those who lost children or spouses (or limbs or eyes) in the Madrid train bombings. "Get over it," he could tell them. "After all, only around 200 died. Way more people died in 9/11, and it wasn't a big deal either."

Hell, fewer Americans died in Pearl Harbor than they did on 9/11...boy, we sure did overreact to that one. A date that will live in infamy? Yeah right.

It truly astounds me that otherwise intelligent people are capable of statements that are not only incredibly fucking insensitive, but that also manage to show a startling lack of perspective, the commodity they accuse others of lacking.

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