Saturday, April 02, 2005

Death Watches and Wakes

We have had our share of these during the last week, and there is no end in sight. The media first let us vicariously experience death by dehydration and the religious fervor of a small bunch of demonstrators outside the hospice where Theresa Schiavo died. This bunch was used as proof that the country was massively split into the pro-life and pro-death camps, as defined by the wingnuts. A sort of orchestrated reality.

Now we are waiting for the pope to die. There is something very unwholesome and callous about this whole waiting process, with the repeated reports on how many tubes go into and out of his body, what facial movements he still has control over and so on. It's quite disgusting, really. We have somehow confused our right to know when the pope has died with some idea that we have a right to know how it feels to be a dying pope.

I can't help seeing all this tasteless coverage as a media response to the wingnut takeover. There is a medieval flavor to it, a flavor of religion as consisting of magical suffering, self-flagellation and the worshipping of bits and pieces of dead bodies. I almost expect the next news announcement to be about the black death or the persecution of nonbelievers. Well, perhaps the time is not yet ripe.