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Jon Benet’s a different kind of distraction today

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A lot has happened in the 10 years since JonBenet Ramsey lost her life but won our hearts after a savage confrontation in the basement of her parents’ Colorado home.

This was before Clinton’s impeachment, before the contested presidential election of 2000, before 9-11 and the anthrax and the war on terror, before the Red Sox broke the Curse.

Things are different now, and in deference to that fact we will refrain from editorializing further about that poor little girl and the creep who says he killed her.

A lot of more important things happened last week.

For one, Triad guitarist Charles Greene, one of the sweetest cats ever to strum the strings, died in his sleep. He was 54 and certainly not pageant material like JonBenet. But his passing will be felt around these parts and no doubt his fans and friends will still be speaking his name 10 years hence.

A middle school teacher in Louisville, Ky. with 27 years on the job was relieved of classroom duty after he burned two American flags during a lesson about freedom of speech, in the process learning something about free speech himself. More than 20 concerned parents crowded the school hallways the next day, all outraged about the act, which is not illegal and was performed in the spirit of a civics lesson and without specific political intent. Regardless, it is possible that some of the students actually learned something and it is probable that they will remember it until the day they die.

Also last week onetime presidential candidate Pat Buchanan made headlines with his new book, State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America, which declared a state of emergency for the US and other Western countries due to the growing influx of undocumented immigrants from poverty-stricken nations, insinuating that most Hispanics are in favor of a plan called Reconquista, which foresees an eventual reclamation of the American Southwest by the people who once inhabited the land.

To many Americans the idea of Reconquista is a scary one, but it pales in comparison to the fear mongered by the nation of Iran, which as of his writing has been at turns coy and outright defiant in the face of the UN Security Council’s demands that it cease uranium enrichment, a part of the nuclear program they’ve been conducting in secret for the past 20 years.

And then there’s George Bush, whose nation already has nuclear weapons and has insisted he has the right to use them against countries like Iran.

And still the wars rage on in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The world today makes us yearn for the time when the gruesome death of a pretty child captured our national attention so deeply, when we had the luxury to speculate on one family’s tragedy and leave the stories that actually had impact on us to the people who knew more about them, or at least cared.

These days we cannot afford not to care. And the swirl of coverage concerning the JonBenet case should be regarded as a peripheral curiosity.

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