Saturday, January 02, 2021

The Flintstones Gather In Philadelphia

"We'll have a gay, old time."

                    -from theme song to The Flintstones, 1960-1966


They had a gay, old time in south Philadelphia on New Years Day.

Not gay as in homosexual or LGBTQIA etc. but gay in the old timey, traditional sense of being joyous.

The City Council and Mayor in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had cancelled the traditional and outlandish Mummers Day Parade, held annually on New Years Day. However, that didn't stop hundreds of Mummers, in their gaily decorated costumes, and onlookers from coming out to protest the cancellation and have, in The Flintstones vernacular, a gay, old time.

That would have been of little import, threatening little danger, without the expectation of news coverage.

But the expectation was there, and local news in Philadelphia didn't disappoint, as the video below reflects.  The obligatory, passing reference to the pandemic- "many, though, not always earing their mask"-was overwhelmed by the positivity of it all.

"Young and old danced in the streets," correspondent Alicia Roberts observed on CBS3, as images (plural) of the American flag appeared on screen. A handsome father was approvingly shown with his toddler perched on his back. A spectator appeared with an arm around a police officer and Roberts gushed "most who watched were peaceful, thanking police along Washington Avenue." Another assured the viewing audience "they support us, we support them, we love them."

Not only was the possibility of contracting and transmitting Covid-19 downplayed, they were honoring family and the past. Roberts stated "George Piccoli's father died in August from Covid complications" but George was there to assert "my dad was a great guy, he just loved New Years, he loved people." (Such a great, life-affirming way to honor his memory!)

A poster of a Marine in uniform popped up because, well, of course it did. The marchers love not only little children, law enforcement, and family, but also the troops.

And also God. There may have been no better way to end this love letter to lawlessness and selfishness than to be shown a white ribbon marked with "Struttin in Heaven #WoodyStrong13," described as "a photo and a nod to heaven."

The march was not only a party but a protest. Two placards were shown caricaturing and belittling the Democratic mayor, John Kenney, and one marked in part "Mummers Lives Matter."

The gathering may or may not spur a significant increase in Covid-19 cases in or about the city of Philadelphia. It is similar to the Black Lives Matter protests of the summer, which did not reignite Covid-19 growth, in that both are were localized, thus not requiring participants or spectators to seek dining or lodging in the area before returning home. However, the Mummers thing resembled this summer's annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, which also was a joyous occasion encouraging drinking and general fellowship.

Whatever the direct impact of the south Philadelphia festivities upon contracting and transmitting the coronavirus, the decision by the local television stations to glamorize- even to cover- the event was irresponsible and reprehensible. If you publicize it, they will come. If they come, local news will celebrate them. And if they are celebrated, people in the region will be encouraged to flout rules and safety measures and worsen the pandemic.

However, the coverage also illustrates how lucky we are to have a fairly vibrant, reasonably objective media in the USA. Not local news, of course, frequently an abomination. We have legitimate cable news networks, currently CNN and MSNBC.   And we still have traditional daily newspapers, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post,Tthe Wall Street Journal (editorial policy notwithstanding), and some others, which provide the best daily news coverage in America. That is insufficient but given that local news operations are beset by any combination of incompetence, fealty to sponsors, and an insufficient budget, it's not nothing.


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