---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 24 May 2002 11:49:35 -0700
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Another Victim of Hunter S. Thompson's Disease
Another Victim of Hunter S. Thompson's Disease
by Stephanie Kirmer
Finally, the things I have known about Chechnya for some time are coming to
light in major media. I discovered this as I was reading an article this
morning in TIME magazine about US-Russian relations, where it was posited
that President Bush would cave in to President Putin's demand for support of
Russian death squads in Chechnya, under the guise of a branch of the "war on
terror." And then I read a quotation in the Kansas City Star that said
"People still disappear without a trace," in regards to the situation in
Chechnya. Obviously, President Bush's concerns are someplace other than with
the human rights of the Chechen people.
Now, this was not news to me, but I couldn't help feeling depressed that the
world was finally being told this, by major media sources, and nothing was
being done. No uproar had resulted, nothing of note had been said to
criticize Bush's actions or statements on the matter, at least nothing I
saw. I had hoped, in the back of my mind, that if this issue got out to
enough ears and eyes, people would be as horrified and outraged as I was
when I wrote an article for Media Monitors about this very issue a few
months ago. But now I realize that this is perhaps not the case at all.
I am fast losing my already meager hope that the American public can be
roused from their indulgent, apathetic stupor, hence the title of this
article. In his review of Hunter S. Thompson's book "Fear and Loathing on
the Campaign Trail 1972," Kurt Vonnegut wrote this. "From this moment on,
let all those who feel that Americans can be as easily led to beauty as to
ugliness, to truth as to public relations, to joy as to bitterness, be said
to be suffering from Hunter Thompson's disease." I have contracted a bad
case of this. When I look at my acquaintances, my classmates, and most of my
friends, I begin to understand why my former high school U.S. History
teacher said he couldn't fathom any sort of active movement from the Left.
He couldn't find any real unrest or unhappiness in his students or people he
observed. I knew it in the back of my mind at the time, that people are just
too complacent and happy in their gas-guzzling Sport Utility Vehicles,
eating their McDonald's hamburgers, wearing clothes made by some child in a
third-world country for pennies a day. They would just as soon ignore the
problems that exist outside their little sphere, because all they want is to
be comfortable and have a good time.
But when I caught Hunter Thompson's disease, I lost the ability to be a part
of the masses. I realized there is more to life than being comfortable and
having a good time. I gained, instead, a view of the world that I believe is
more realistic, but which causes me to be utterly unsettled by every news
report I see, either because the news is too horrific to stand, or because I
know the report is so utterly prejudiced that it's simply contributing to
American misinformation. Of course, this is all punctuated by a total lack
of reaction by the American public. Most Americans simply don't care
In spite of my utter disillusionment and almost complete lack of confidence
in the American public as a group, I find that I continue to write for Media
Monitors Network (MMN) and participate in activism because I cannot allow
myself to sit by and do nothing. Maybe it boils down to this. I have so many
complaints about the world that I would just burst if I didn't voice them.
And if I don't participate in activism or work to change the things I see
wrong, I have no right to complain. If you're not part of the solution, you'
re part of the problem, as the old adage goes. So I continue what I do
because I don't want to return to the American masses that I view so sadly.
And in fact, I doubt that I could if I wanted to. Hunter S. Thompson's
disease, as Vonnegut said, has no cure.
Stephanie Kirmer is a student at the University of Kansas. She is the High
School program director of the Secular Student Alliance, but none of her
comments expressed here are intended to represent the organization. She
hopes to be a regular contributor to MMN in the future, and would like to
increase the awareness of young people regarding world events.
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