Lacking context, outrage uneven

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ columnist

Cue the outrage — must you even ask why?

OK, you must. Barack Obama was on Leno last week. And the topic of Obama’s poor bowling skills came into play, to which the President said his score was on par with the Special Olympics.

One of my right-leaning friends was on my case quickly.

“So, tell me Kev,” he said, “how do you think the liberal media would have reacted if President Bush had made any type of crack about the Special Olympics?”

“Honestly, I think it would have been a situation similar to the time that Bush mocked a legally blind reporter for wearing sunglasses to a press conference. Or when he did an interview mocking a death row inmate pleading not to be killed. A few days of video clips, and then it’s done.”

But don’t call this a “circle the wagons” attempt to defend Obama and what he said. My point is different, and it was proven by my friend.

I brought up Bush’s follies. And later I brought up the time Bush told a guy in a wheelchair, “You look comfortable.” For each incident, he said he didn’t remember the outrage from the incidents, or even the incidents themselves.

Since my friend doesn’t even watch “The Tonight Show,” he had to get that information from a news program. Or a news Web site. Or a blog. Or talk radio. Yep, that liberal media sure shielded the President.

Point blank, it’s indefensible for Obama to make a crack about the Special Olympics in his position, comedy show or otherwise. He deserves every bit of scorn he gets for that isolated act. I hope he takes up the challenge from that Special Olympics bowler who took offense. And I hope Obama gets his butt kicked.

But if the bowl-a-thon ever happens, cue the outrage because the President should be worrying about the economy instead of wearing poorly-fitting bowling shoes (as an infrequent bowler, I can only assume none fit well).

Then cue the outrage from Obama defenders, who will bring up George W. Bush’s vacationing at the Crawford ranch. And they’ll call the ranch a campaign tool, built in 2000 to give the Yale graduate a Texas backdrop.

The problem is that we focus on the minutae so much, I’m afraid we won’t be able to muster up proper outrage when the moment presents itself — or maybe, the moment’s already passed us.

We Facebook, we MySpace, and we Twitter. If it’s more than 140 characters, it doesn’t get posted.

We don’t seek out context, and we flip back and forth between outrage over Nadya Suleman and stimulus bill funding for marsh mice in California. Except marsh mice are mentioned nowhere in the bill, and we call a human being “Octumom” because those two extra syllables are too much work.

If we don’t demand context, we’re wasting our time hopping from one inflated outrage to another.

And among the reality, I’ll close with a fictional point: Let’s assume there’s a small town in New Mexico called Micropolis. And there’s a murder there every five years. Assume every state has 10 of those towns.

Will we put each of those towns in context, and consider them just as safe as they were a decade ago? Or will we absorb the small clippings from across the country, look at the twice-a-week small-town murders and wonder what’s gone wrong with America?

Cue the outrage.

Kevin Wilson is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico. He can be contacted at 763-3431, ext. 313, or by e-mail: kevin_wilson@link.freedom.com