Wednesday, October 11, 2006

"Bumfights" vs. "60 Minutes"

The Stay Free! blog notes a bit of irony in a disturbing sequence of 60 Minutes stories that I happened to catch in the first five minutes of 60 Minutes I've seen in probably 10 years. Segment A is a shocker about the real-world attacks on the homeless that are on the rise thanks to the repulsive and quite popular "Bumfights" videos. Segment B is - well, I'll let them tell you:

...despite my loathing of the ["Bumfights" creator], I found the exchange kind of ironic considering that, in the same program, 60 Minutes ran a favorable story on a dubious new surgical procedure designed to treat depression. "Deep brain stimulation"- at least at this point in time - is highly risky and experimental (involves inserting electronic "nerve stimulators" in the brain) and yet 60 Minutes promoted it on national television, all but guaranteeing that people are going to start demanding it before it's been properly tested.
Yikes! As odd as I find it to ally myself with Andy Rooney or Gary Gnu or whoever it is that hosts 60 Minutes these days, I feel compelled to mentally unwrap this little present. To anyone who can split-screen these two video documents and see a viable connection, I submit to you the following:
  • Clinical research is not equal to exploitative, violent entertainment.
  • Puffing up a questionable study does not exploit that study's subjects. It exploits the viewers of the newscast.
  • Inciting violence against others is a far greater crime than leading a viewer to (attempt to) undergo unproven medical procedures.
While there is a strong case to be made against giving people false hope, misinforming the public, and wasting our time before the facts are in order, this isn't it.

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