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Anthrax, Shmanthrax!

by Neena Louise

I'm getting mighty weary of this so-called "anthrax scare". Scare, my foot! It's media-driven hype and people really have to stop being so naïve when it comes to what the news tells them. The news media wants ratings and will put any spin they have to on any story they have in order to achieve their goals - public good be damned. They do this all the time in their rabid zeal for money and I can't believe the public is so stupid to fall for it. Again.

Anthrax isn't an easy disease to contract, nor is it the once-fatal disease it was in the days before modern antibiotics. It's not contagious and it's easily-treated. There have been THREE confirmed deaths. Of course, that's three too many, but, c'mon people, more die of the flu every year! Thousands in fact! And cancer. And pneumonia. And infected wounds. And any number of diseases much deadlier than anthrax. CALM DOWN! Stop giving the irresponsible news media's desperate ratings grab any credit. They don't deserve it.

But people are falling for it, and if it wasn't costing so much taxpayer money and making people so panic-stricken, it would be hysterically funny. There are so many amusing stories: mail rooms being shut down; people flooding emergency rooms, convinced they're dying of anthrax; powdery substances making people panic, convinced the rash they got from it is anthrax (I'd hazard a guess that the cause of the rash was hysteria); the woman who got sick after touching a toy camel, convinced she'd contracted anthrax; the Canadian politician's office that was evacuated because of a "suspicious substance" which turned out to be maple syrup (I laughed my head off at that one). Stupid, stupid, stupid!

Pranksters are taking full advantage of people's naïveté. There are many accounts of people intentionally sprinkling baby powder or corn starch or flour around. The Hazmat teams move in, evacuations are ordered and frightened people insist on being tested for anthrax. I actually rather admire the pranksters. Not for trying to scare people (which is a nasty thing to do), but because they're pointing out just how ridiculous people are being. There are thousands of powdery substances around. Are we all going to freak out every time someone uses talcum power?

This is the work of some moron with some elusive cause that seems to think releasing anthrax in the U.S. is going to kill everyone and make their point. Oh, puh-leeze. I'll bet the people responsible for sending anthrax-laden mail are absolutely thrilled with the reaction of the news and, especially, the public. Why does the irresponsible news media always give criminals exactly what they want - the attention they so desperately crave? And why do so many people fall for it? I, for one, am sick of seeing repetitive stories about cowardly criminals. Bin Laden is getting more publicity than he ever has before. The Taliban is probably thrilled with the one-sided exploitive footage they provide and U.S. networks run over and over again. And I can just picture the Anthrax People, giddy with satisfaction at the reaction they are getting. Everyone knows there's no such thing as bad publicity, so the only thing we can do is stop watching.

I think it's deplorable to be so hysterical over such a joke of a non-issue when there are so many more important things that need our attention. Like the thousands that are still buried in the World Trade Center's rubble. Or how about the thousands of troops that are risking their lives in Afghanistan to preserve our way of life? I immediately change the channel as soon as I so much as hear the word "anthrax" and I suspect if more people did the same, coverage would cease. Low ratings means the news will stop running their exploitive nonsense and get on with real news. If they even know what that is anymore.
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