Readers — Here’s a note I liked, with a caveat. I actually don’t think it is all that dumb for the media to remind parents about basic safety, as they do in the story below: “Don’t mow the lawn with kids nearby.” This is a fine thing to point out from time time, just like, “Don’t let your kids play in the pool without adult supervision,” “Don’t speed through yellow lights,” and, “Keep your space heater away from the drapes,” etc., etc.
What I object to is the way these otherwise possibly helpful tidbits are played out on TV: We viewers are invariably shown, by dint of TV protocol, an anguished relative.
Hey, media moguls! We understand the point WITHOUT you trotting out a family member in the throes of grief. So why are they always part of the story? Simple! They’re great for ratings! The person looks tormented, the anchor looks sympathetic, and somehow this is all considered quite proper.
Even though it’s really grief porn.
Anyway, here’s the letter that prompted my musings. Stay safe! — Lenore
Dear Free-Range Kids: I don’t really mean to watch Good Morning America, but I stop by an elderly neighbor’s every morning to check on her and drop off our joint-custody rescue mutt, and she is a morning TV fan, so I just can’t help myself. Anyway, today was yet another “The Kids Are All Gonna Die!” classic, as part of their Summer Safety series. The point: small children and lawnmowers are a bad combination.
Stop The Presses! The segment opened with George Stephanopoulos in a suburban yard in his white shirt and tie, looking for some reason like a stuffed jackass penguin (that’s a real species) who somehow wandered off a museum’s diorama. George assured us that lawnmowers — especially riding lawnmowers that can mow in reverse — are very dangerous to children. Shift to female Twinkie, earnest blonde version, who breathlessly revealed that every year 37,000 children (much softer “and adults”) go to the emergency room with lawn-mowing related injuries.
Then they did video clips of two little boys who actually got run over by a riding lawnmower driven in reverse by a relative: “One of them made it but one of them didn’t.”
Short interviews with anguished relatives, one of whom is going to form some kind of foundation to push for laws and regulations to make sure this tragedy never happens again. (Oh, by the way, the Twinkie mentions as an aside, all riding mowers sold since 2004 can’t mow in reverse. But there are millions of old lawnmowers out there.)
Close segment with interview with child safety expert who advises that we shouldn’t really mow the yard when the kids are out there playing.
Gee, ya think? That never would have occurred to me — I operate dangerous power equipment around small children all the time and I’ve only had a few fatal accidents. (Well, actually, if the kids come out while I’m mowing my friend’s yard, I shut off the mower and take a break until their mom comes out, but that might be because I’m smarter than George Stephanopoulos.)
End of story. Tune in tomorrow for: MORE DANGERS. –Jim Sherman