The recent imprisonment of a certain hotel heiress who doesn’t need her name mentioned in yet another article to further bolster her importance in the collective databases mined by search engines and the news coverage that this imprisonment that was generated and continues to be generated unsettles me.

I have to give her credit – she even spoke out about the absurdity of how much press coverage her imprisonment and the day by day details is getting when there are so many more important things that should be on the news. In her honor I’d like to list just a few things that are significantly more important than a wealth-based celebrity going to prison for driving on a suspended license.

The Primary Elections
It’s true, we don’t have anyone stomping around and yelling in a fervent manor. Despite this, the importance of the primaries can not be understated. What’s being done is no less than choosing the next leader of our country, who will hopefully lead us out of this quagmire that we have found ourselves in for the last seven years. What are the issues surrounding our choice in this matter?

Do we want to go for a former mayor, who led my favorite city through one of this country’s worst crisis?

Do we choose a senator who has gained notoriety for embracing the wife of an organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction? What about the freshman senator from Illinois who seems to know all the right answers and who recently called out for fathers to be responsible just a few days before the day on which we honor fathers? If you find yourself not sure about who these candidates are, could it be because I have referred to them in too obscure a manner?

Perhaps, instead, it is because of a poor focus from our major news organizations – note how few articles are listed about Obama’s call for fatherly responsibility. A similar list of articles about the above-mentioned heiress being moved into a different prison cell generated about 1,140 articles – nearly 100 times as many articles. Is there really that much interest in the precise prison cell location of a hotel heiress and that little interest in the importance of a father’s responsibility in home life? It would seem this is the case, if you go by the number of articles.

The Passing of Daniel Robert Epstein
If you were unaware, writer and amazing interviewer Daniel Robert Epstein passed away this week at the young age of 31 (just a little more than a year older than me – a fact that makes it a little more real to me) from causes that are still unknown.

All I know is that at the beginning of the week, there was a genius of a writer, not that much older than me, that was quite alive, and that is no longer the case. He may not have been up there with Hunter S. Thompson but he certainly showed all the potential to grow to greatness, and that potential has been snatched away from him and he can never have it back.

Again, going by news articles on Google News, we have to feel some sort of outrage here – three articles about this great writer? One three-hundred eightieth the number of articles about the prison cell move! This is just a bit more than unacceptable.

Daniel was not the only person recently snubbed in favor of the prison cell move. Don Herbert, who in his role of “Mr. Wizard” taught me almost everything I know about science that I didn’t pick up in classrooms passed away, and it made barely a small blip on the news. I have to assume that it’s partially because of the prison cell move ruckus or whatever was going on with the infamous prisoner but there is a greater wrong being done here – the very fact that dear Mr. Herbert is somehow not deemed important enough to warrant being more in the headlines.

What, we must wonder, would prompt a person to merit getting big headlines when they pass away? It seems when huge entertainers or political leaders pass away, the news makes us well aware of it. When an educator of some sort passes away, be it a professor, grade school teacher, rabbi, or even Mr. Wizard – we are somehow not alerted quite so loudly. If it were not for the many educators we have in our life we would be, as Eugene Merman likes to joke, much like very young children, saying things like “I like bike cheese” because we wouldn’t know what words meant.

What can we do to raise focus on our educators? Quite simply, we can create new centers for disseminating news that reflect these values. We could also consider showing our concern for the lack of coverage of our educators by writing letters to the news organizations which seem to be ignoring the educators, or downplaying their importance.

Darfur
I believe that the crisis in Darfur is one of the greatest that has happened in the last decade. As a result of the conflict that has been going on for the last four years, more than two hundred thousand people have been killed and two and a half million people have been pushed out of their homes.

The phrase “ethnic cleansing” gets tossed around like a hot potato, maybe because it’s not nearly as horrible sounding as genocide and that’s what seems to be happening. Only in the last year or so have some more news organizations started to recognize the catastrophes that have befallen the people in Darfur – women being kidnapped and sexually abused, people being randomly killed – when will we say ‘enough’? Thankfully, this is something that is being covered in greater detail by news organizations but yet people don’t seem to care enough.

It hurts me when I overhear conversations that go something like this: one person asks his friend what they think of the situation in Darfur, and the other person responds by saying that they don’t know what Darfur is. The same sort of person, one imagines, who thinks that England is still ruled by a King and Queen and doesn’t know what a “prime minister” is. The Darfur issue is important enough that I could probably write about it every month, covering a different aspect with every column. Maybe next year will be the Year of Darfur.

Conclusion
When an actress getting into yet another car accident, or an actress possibly getting pregnant by her ex-husband gets more attention than attempted genocide, we have to shudder and think that something has to be done. We have to be the ones to do something about it. As the great rabbi Hillel wrote, “…if not now, when?” When, indeed?

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