Death in the Afternoon

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

Pretty horrible story, here.

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22 Responses to “Death in the Afternoon”

  1. #1 |  John Jenkins | 

    I guess I don’t see what’s horrible about the story, other than the behavior of the Italian authorities. Other people continuing to enjoy the beach after someone whom they do not know died just doesn’t bother me.

    It’s not like someone who actually cared for the girls did it. If their parents were there and their parents actually kept on swimming, yeah, that’s horrible. But for total strangers who don’t even know them? Why should it register emotionally at all?

    Terrence is long dead and, let’s face it, he was wrong.

  2. #2 |  Nando | 

    I’m with John on this one. If someone I know and care about died, then I’m not going to enjoy my day at the beach. However, if John Doe washes up on shore, I’ll do my best to call 911 and stay upwind, but I’m not going to cut my leisure time short just because of it.

  3. #3 |  Mike | 

    I think

    I’ll disagree with John here. There is just no way that I could enjoy my day on a beach next to a corpse. I think your correct in that most of the blame probably lies with the authorities. I would be thinking of the respect that the corpse of my family member deserves and would be pretty outraged at authorities for leaving them on the beach.

    As to the fact that it was 2 young girls, I’m probably biased as I have 2 daughters. Leaving 2 dead children on the beach definately puts me into full irrational mode where I would be considering bodily harm to the police officers in question. This to me is not the right frame of mind to enjoy my day on the beach.

  4. #4 |  Bernard | 

    Ditto. I thought this was going to be something nasty, and kids drowning is never nice but presuming that people made every reasonable effort to save them and that nothing more could be done what’s the proper etiquette afterwards?

    I’m surprised the bodies weren’t taken away sooner, but the idea that moving to a different beach in some way identifies you as human is odd to me.

  5. #5 |  Mike | 

    Disregarding any respect due the deceased children, I just don’t think I could have a good time at the beach that has corpses on it. Heck I think a dead dog on the beach would cause me to move at least a few hundred feet away*. A couple of dead children and I am definately not having a good time.

    I guess its what makes it more human by going to a different beach is that it is human to have some strong emotional attachment to the concept of death.

    The story implies that most of the people on the beach where there for the screaming and drowning as well as letting the bodies sit there. If true I really can’t see how the topic of any conversation on that beach would be anything but the drowning. Leaving in disgust or staying in morbid fascination are completely understandable to me. Indifference to it seems strange to me.

    I guess what the limits? Would you be able to watch the latest comedy movie in a theatre if there was a dead baby sitting in the next chair over? Would you still find it funny or would you be uncomfortable laughing at the punchlines?

  6. #6 |  j.d. | 

    until someone can come up with an exact distance one must move from dead strangers who are being taken care of by the police, and, if someone can come up with an exact time that must pass before anyone within aforementioned distance can come back to that area of the beach to enjoy it…..

  7. #7 |  Matt Moore | 

    j.d. – The exact distance I’d have to move is out of sight. The exact time I’d stay away until the bodies are gone.

    I don’t think it makes me a better person… I’d just be kinda icked about playing near a corpse.

  8. #8 |  Tokin42 | 

    As a young teen I was at a small beach where another kid, maybe 12, drowned. The lifeguards made us all get in long lines and walk the length of the beach, dragging our feet to find him. I’ll never forget how upset his little brother was when they pulled him out of the water. I don’t think I’ve had an argument with my brother since and that was 25 years ago.

  9. #9 |  feh | 

    Other people at the beach — strangers to the drowned girls — tried to save them. Hard to construct an argument for terrifying indifference, given that fact. The dead are dead. Emotions won’t save them.

  10. #10 |  Mike | 

    j.d. If I were there for the drowning/attempted rescue/screaming relatives I don’t think I would be going back to that beach for a long time (measured in months/years). If it had been a lone adult body instead of two children perhaps a week. It sounds pretty traumatic to me and I’ve never thought of myself as an emotional person.

    As Matt says I don’t think this makes me a better person just my natural emotional response. I would have assumed the majority of people felt the same way. Perhaps a few exceptions such as your self would stay but I would have thought Most people would have left. Instead most stayed. Its the reaction of the group as a whole and not any single individual who chose to stay that has me puzzled.

  11. #11 |  akromper | 

    People view death differently. Simple as that. Country, culture, religion, you name it. The picture isn’t saying a thousand words of “i got sunburn and darn the luck, 2 dead girls there” to me. It’s a long day, hot, and I’m sure they loved their picture being taken while they perhaps sat down and discussed it. Eh, circle of life.

  12. #12 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I don’t see the horror here at all. Of course, their drowning was tragic, but it’s not like the other beach goers were using their lifeless bodies as puppets and making them talk and stuff.

    Personally, if it were up to me, I’d be perfectly happy if my dead body were thrown in the big green garbage thingy and rolled out to the curb for the city to deal with.

  13. #13 |  Lee | 

    #12, using them as puppets like Weekend At Bernie’s?

  14. #14 |  freedomfan | 

    I guess most of the attention is on whether the other beach-goers should have left or not. That’s a flashy story but, as news, I pretty much don’t care. I wouldn’t really want to frolic near a couple of dead youngsters, but I understand that it’s entirely an aesthetic decision, not a moral one.

    To me, the issue in the article of more interest is that the Romas are being targeted in an effort to have them all (as an ethnic group) fingerprinted. The article notes that

    the influx of thousands more migrants from Romania in the past year has confirmed the view of many Italians that the Gypsies and their eyesore camps are the source of all their problems. The ethnic group is often blamed for petty theft and burglaries. According to a recent newspaper survey, more than two thirds of Italians want Gypsies expelled, whether they hold Italian passports or not.

    IMO, that’s the larger story. Reminds me a bit of http://www.cato.org/event.php?eventid=4894

  15. #15 |  KBCraig | 

    The story is horrible, but there are missing elements that are essential for making judgement:
    – What was the timeline? Was the photo made after the couple had been sitting there next to the bodies, sunbathing for hours?
    – Had they just arrived to the scene unaware, and sat down to take stock of what they would do?
    – Was this immediately after the girls were recovered? Were they part of the rescue effort, sitting down to rest and deal with the trauma?
    – They certainly don’t seem disinterested. They’re looking at the girls. Are they praying? Meditating on the uncertainty of life? Standing watch until the girls’ loved ones can claim the bodies?

    The photo, absent the narrative, doesn’t tell a complete story. I don’t care for editorializing in the news copy, but that’s what we have here.

  16. #16 |  DB | 

    The story implies that most of the people on the beach where there for the screaming and drowning as well as letting the bodies sit there. If true I really can’t see how the topic of any conversation on that beach would be anything but the drowning. Leaving in disgust or staying in morbid fascination are completely understandable to me. Indifference to it seems strange to me.

    What? You’ve never just driven by an accident on the freeway? I’ve probably meandered by dozens of fatal pileups and this point, or sat in an endless row of cars behind them, cursing.

    What are you SUPPOSED to do when there’s a dead body in the proximate vicinity? Drop everything you’re doing and stare? Speak in hushed tones? Cover yourself in sackcloth and ashes? Leave the area, no matter what your plans were or what you might be doing at the time?

    Is there really anything you can do that others won’t criticize you for?

  17. #17 |  Edmund Dantes | 

    This type of thinking is what got Andy Dufresne in trouble. He didn’t act appropiately to his wife’s murder so he must be guilty and punished harshly. He’s a real cold fish.

    You can see the same dynamic in how sports fans cheer for particular athletes. Youkilis ( or Paul O’neil) is beloved because he gets mad, breaks shit, etc when stuff doesn’t go his way. To many fans that shows he cares. J.D. Drew gets crap for being emotionless even though he’s a better player. Not showing any inkling at all that he just struck out, and he gets railed on by the talk show idiots and fans.

    Just because someone doesn’t fit your narrative or mindset of what or how a person should react doesn’t mean they are a bad person or guilty of something. We have no idea what those people were thinking, how long they had been there, if they knew what was going on, etc. The picture is worthless without context, and unless we have the ability to read their minds the context would be speculation. I agree with the above person that said the more interesting aspect of the article is the singling out of the Roma people that gets thrown in as an aside.

  18. #18 |  Mike | 

    #16 I think I covered that. I was surprised by the lack of interest implied. Slowing down for an accident to stare is certainly an example of “staying in morbid interest” which I noted. Not really caring one way or another that there are 2 dead children 10 feet from where things seem off. Also as I mentioned its wouldn’t be any one individual’s reaction but the average reaction on the beach that day. Perhaps all of you posters would have no problems eating lunch in a room full of dead children but I’d say that is somewhat unusual.

    As for the specific photo other commenters are absolutely right you can’t tell much from that one. I was going on what the different news reports stated. Of course they conflict on the girls ages and whether or not there was foul play involved, the one thing they did have in common was they implied there were plenty of people on the beach to hear the children screaming then there for the rescue effort and then went back to their normal activites.

  19. #19 |  chance | 

    I almost certainly would have left the area. I also am of the opinion that it was pretty low class to keep playing at the beach with two dead little girls laying right there. That said, I’m not going to accuse the whole beach full of people of racism and of being horrible people. I think the article goes way over the top with it’s soul searching.

  20. #20 |  Sam | 

    The real question is (as others have pointed out) why did the authorities leave the bodies lying on the beach AT ALL? It wasn’t a crime scene, they should have been immediately removed. Unfortunately I’m not sure what the protocol in Italy is for such a thing.

  21. #21 |  Alan | 

    If I arrive at a beach, and see someone under a towel, I am not likely to make the immediate assumption that they are dead. The couple in the background appears to be reacting to the photographer, it’s entirely possible they arrived well after the events in question, and were unaware of the tragedy.

    That doesn’t make a good story, though. It’s much more compelling to characterize them as indifferent or callous in the absense of any direct evidence. We’ve seen a few of these lately, like the hit an run incident with security video where the narrative starts out that people left an old man to die in the gutter, and then it turns out there were 4 calls to 911 in the first minute. See http://www.courant.com/news/local/columnists/hc-colin0608.artjun08,0,1739844.column

    I’m not fond of feel-good reporting, but the trend towards feel-bad reporting is greatly disturbing to me. There are enough bad things going on in the world, and there’s no need to paint everything blacker than it is already.

  22. #22 |  TGGP | 

    I’m with John. We shouldn’t have built a memorial to the WTC either, just another functional building. No “evergreen damage” in John Robb’s terms. The best revenge is living well.

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