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This weekend has been jam-packed, news-wise. On Friday night there was the news of bombing in Norway, followed almost immediately by the story of the massacre at the camp. Before long we learned that they were connected. Then, Saturday morning, the news of Amy Winehouse's death. I can't speak for anyone else, but my facebook exploded. The majority of posts were about Amy Winehouse, and the majority of those were of the "Too soon. So sad. Not a surprise, though." variety. I had no problem with those, but I did take issue with the "Shoulda gone to rehab. Hyuk, hyuk, hyuk." jokes. I was more pissed at the "friend" who said "No sympathy for Amy Winehouse...she had the world in the palm of her hand and pissed it away to get drunk and high..." although I was even more pissed at the friends of my friends, one of whom went on a lengthy rant about how when people struggle with addictions "...it cheapens the whole issue of *genuine* mental health problems..." And then, of course, there was the recurring theme of "I'm more offended that we're talking about Amy Winehouse than the people in Norway."

People. Come on.

1. First of all, Amy Winehouse did go to rehab. Repeatedly. Like most people. You know how when people decide to quit smoking cigarettes, it often takes them a few tries to really quit smoking? Yea, well, drugs and alcohol are usually the same way. Good on her for continuing to try. I'm sorry that she lost her battle. madamjolie says it better than I could.

2. Ah, infighting among marginalized groups. Someone who's "really" mentally ill thinks that people with addiction issues are somehow "cheapening" mental illness. I briefly argued with this person, but when they posted a 700+ word rant about how they're better than an addict because they struggled with depression but chose to not self-medicate, well, I figured it was time to walk away.

Most people know I've had my issues with addiction. The worst of it is more than a decade in the past for me, which makes it much easier to talk about. Seeing the video of Amy Winehouse stumbling, confused onstage in Serbia last month, I absolutely knew where she was coming from. I've been there. It's scary, but also a strange feeling of safety. When you're in that condition, you have to trust the people around you. It's almost like being a child again.

Of course I can't speak for Amy Winehouse, but I can only guess that the media's ridicule made it exponentially worse. How it must feel, to have that gorgeous voice, to win all of those Grammys, and yet still be the butt of the joke.

3. I have said this more times than I can recall in the past 24 hours, but being saddened by one tragedy does not negate being saddened by the other. It reminds me of my first and second grade homeroom teacher, who would always admonish us to clean our plates at lunchtime because there were starving children in China (a few years later this would change to Ethiopia). As if whether or not I finished my chicken pot pie made any difference to whether a starving child elsewhere would be able to eat. Had that been a legitimate concern of our teacher or our school, the better lesson would have been to teach us to listen to our bodies' hunger, take only what we actually needed, and then save the leftovers to donate to a local soup kitchen or shelter.

Yes, I was horrified when I saw the news on Friday night. Yes, I put myself in the place of those teenagers, and wondered what I would have done, had it been me (of course, I would have hit the water. I'm a swimmer. It's even money whether that would have been a life-saving choice, or whether it would have guaranteed my certain death). Yes, I am disgusted that Muslims who kill large numbers of people are terrorists, while a Right Wing Christian who does the same thing is mentally ill, a lone extremist.

But no, writing about Amy Winehouse's death does not make me a bad person just because something worse happened in the world during the same news cycle. News stories do not need to rise to the level of massacre to be worthy of discussion.

Luckily, today there is something to feel happy about. As I write this, gay and lesbian couples all over New York State are getting married, legally. As soon as I finish writing this post, I'm grabbing my bubbles and heading to Borough Hall to clap and cheer, at least until the heat becomes too much to bear.

Oh, and one final rant: I've just received my second pre-recorded call from ConEd, asking me to reduce my electric use so the power grid doesn't fail. Now, I've been running my air conditioner at 78°, the temperature they suggest, on the energy saver mode, so that it cycles on and off. I've been making doubly sure to turn off the lights if I'm going to be out of any given room for more than a few minutes. Meanwhile, every time I turn on the local news, there's Times Square blazing like the gaudy tribute to capitalism that it is. Now, according to this, many of those signs are LED, lower energy using lights, and hey -- that's great. But I still think that during a heat emergency, maybe NBC should be asked to turn off the giant lighted display in the NBC Experience store before regular schlubs like me are asked to read in the dark.

Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
funcrunch
Jul. 24th, 2011 05:03 pm (UTC)
All very well said. Try to stay cool, and send extra applause to the happy NYC couples from me.
ratphooey
Jul. 24th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
I think that the death of someone whose music you listened to feels much more immediate than the death of total strangers, even so many of them. And maybe the Norway stuff is just so big and so horrible that it's easier to think about Amy Winehouse instead.
sabotabby
Jul. 24th, 2011 09:19 pm (UTC)
This is a good and sensible post.
morrigan716
Jul. 25th, 2011 09:57 pm (UTC)
I agree with you 100%.
bishopjoey
Jul. 26th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC)
Indeed...
I fear I can no longer use the phrase "plus 1", but your comment about ConEd hits it on the head. (Perhaps NBC's cozy relationship with GE may have much to do with its [over]use of electricity as well.)

And agreement with the rest as well.
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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