Sometimes you read something that you have every reason to believe was written by a sane, intelligent and logical person, and you are shocked. Shocked at how incredibly twisted this sane, intelligent and logical person’s perspective could be regarding one singular subject their pen encountered. Tim Blair points out such an example. To quote the estimable Mr Blair’s post:
In an extraordinary act of national media self-censorship, several days after the photograph appeared, it vanished. Papers across the US defended themselves against charges of invading a dying man’s privacy and turning tragedy into pornography. The photograph became impermissible. There was a deeply held belief the deaths of the jumpers weren’t proper, indeed that they were cowardly. [JW - Blair's emphasis, not mine] The images that came to symbolise the day were of helmeted heroic rescuers working in the rubble and the jumpers disappeared to the shameful websites that traffic in autopsy photos and videotapes of executions.
The commenters at Tim’s site rightfully voiced their disgust at such a sentiment. I could not help but marvel at the sheer ignorance betrayed by the author’s reading of events, too. I quite confidently assert, with no supporting evidence, that not one media outlet in the Western world even briefly pondered cowardice as a motive of those wretched jumpers. The fact that Blundell so egregiously detects this wildly inaccurate perception as a “deeply held belief” amongst many suggests to me that this is his own delusion, which is where the ignorance part introduces itself. When trapped out on a stricken building’s precipice – with intolerable heat and the promise of excruciating pain at one’s back and cool, open air at one’s front – people do jump. I cannot possibly know or understand what would be running through a desperate victim’s mind at a time like that, but I would guess that a very basic, elemental survival mechanism – buried deep in our ancient animal instincts and wholly unencumbered by conscious and cerebral rationality – might well be invoked. Step back into a hellish inferno and certain death. Step forward into benevolent – tragically fleetingly benevolent – open air and possible survival. Only one profoundly ignorant of the human condition would mistake the latter choice as an act of cowardice.
On a lighter note; since I have mentioned Tim Blair here, I may as well press an unrelated fact. The man is right up there with the very wittiest writers in the blogosphere. In the middle of a gadfly-esque post confronting the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s marketing of a book published by them (the book is also written by an ABC science broadcaster) – whereby Blair contrasts a strident and hyperbole-ridden stance towards the rather wacky and more-or-less harmless Intelligent Design movement with the ABC’s generally sheepish reaction to the world’s most dangerous religious phenomena – we stumble across Exhibit A:
I’m not religious, so I don’t have a God in this fight