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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Pretty Teenager

I hate sounding like a broken record, but I hate this phenomenon more, so I guess I'll take one more swing at it.

I don't have any statistics about how many young people go missing in America every month, but I'll bet it's a shitload. And, more than that, I'll bet that young people in this country who go missing hail from every single socioeconomic, ethnic, geographical, cultural realm in this diverse nation.

Which ones, though, invariably end up on the national news programs?

Good looking white ones.

It doesn't matter what age they are, either. They can be infants. As long, though, as they're Caucasian and photogenic, you can bet that "The Today Show" is going to hang onto them like a dog with a bone and not let go for as long as they possibly can. I could cite dozens of examples, but I just can't-- it's just too disgusting and too macabre to sort through. You know, though.

If they're eighteen, and white and attractive, that's media gold. When Sarah Townsend, of Burlington County, New Jersey, went missing, the nation sat up and took notice.

Why? I'll let you decide.

After making national news, and after an extensive search for the girl who was believed to have run away, Sarah Townsend's body was found in a pond and, accordingly to toxicology reports, there was a "significant" amount of cocaine in her bloodstream. A suicide note was found in her abandoned car.

This post is not about the immense tragedy of the loss of her life, it is not a post about teen suicide, it is not a post about the unimaginable pain and suffering her family must be enduring, this is a post about the shameful, reprehensible and revolting media practice of paying inordinate amounts of attention to white, attractive missing persons and/or crime victims as compared to the rest of the population.

The article I read in "The Philadelphia Inquirer", written by staff writer James Osborne, about this case even goes so far as to refer to Townsend as "the pretty teenager". So much for journalistic objectivity. James, your use of the word "pretty" to describe Townsend is offensive and irrelevant, and your editor who allowed that go to print is an asshole.

I thank God that I never went missing as a child, because I sure as shit would only have found press on the back of a milk carton.

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