January 05, 2007

Schadenfreude Friday: Good At Home

Before anyone starts throwing things at their monitors, let me first say that I think this story is, basically, good. Just, maybe, a little misdirected.

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey opened a school Tuesday for disadvantaged girls, fulfilling a promise she made to former president Nelson Mandela six years ago.

"I wanted to give this opportunity to girls who had a light so bright that not even poverty could dim that light," Winfrey said at a news conference. Initially, 152 girls will attend the $40 million Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.

The project that created a 28-building campus with computer and science laboratories, a library, a theater and a wellness center began with a $10 million donation from Winfrey in 2002.

On Tuesday, Winfrey rejected suggestions that the school was elitist and unnecessarily luxurious. "If you are surrounded by beautiful things and wonderful teachers who inspire you, that beauty brings out the beauty in you," she said.

Singers Tina Turner, Mary J. Blige and Mariah Carey, actors Sidney Poitier and Chris Tucker, and director Spike Lee also attended the opening.

I'll admit this is good. I'll admit that someone should do this a million times over, across the continent of Africa and around the globe, wherever the poor, disadvantaged and disenfranchised struggle with issues of health, social welfare and education. I believe we, as (primarily) occupants of the richest nations in the world have an absolute obligation to better the lives of our fellow man regardless of borders and distance. But I also believe that it is our duty to take care of our own first.

In Chicago - the city Oprah calls home - 19% of the adult population lives below the poverty line. That's an income of about $15,700 or less per year for a family with two kids. 2004 census data reveals that this translates to somewhere around 165,000 families within the city of Chicago itself. Statistics further show that educational opportunities and the quality of education is, overall, severely decreased in economically depressed areas. Perhaps more importantly, in 2000 (the most recent year for which I can find data), $6,911 was spent per student on average. The price of building the school itself would pay for the education of roughly 6,000 kids. Yet the school, as you saw, is currently only open for 152 students. Were the kids of Chicago just not pathetic enough?

I fully realize that Oprah had a number of different motivations for doing what she did. And that her philanthropic ties to Chicago are strong. She does a lot of good. But Africa is fast becoming a photo-op and I'm tired of people doing good - and supporting those who do good things - only when there are cameras around.

Good is, well, good. It doesn't matter if you're at the top of the billionaires list or on the lowest rung of the socio-economic ladder. It doesn't matter if you stand in front of a camera while you're doing it. In fact, it might be more powerful if you don't. But, I'd argue that everyone has an obligation to do good in their own neighborhoods, that the investment you make in your own backyard pays dividends you can see, that strengthens the fabric of the community in which you live preparing it to receive future generations who will, hopefully, continue to do good.

I secretly (well, not now) like Oprah. She does some pretty cool stuff. I just wish, sometimes, she and people like her would focus a little more attention at home. There are plenty of kids who need a break here too.

The Feel Good: First Muslim congressman Keith Ellison used a copy of the Koran that once belonged to Virginia's most prominent resident, Thomas Jefferson. This after Virginia representative Virgil Goode argued that only the Bible should be used for such ceremonies.

So Schadenfreude It's Painful: Have you seen the latest McDonald's ad? Be on the lookout for a rather familiar (although slightly older) dude providing five seconds of almost-anonymous enthusiasm. Turns out, he's Jeremy Miller, former brat Ben from Growing Pains. Mmmmm, I'm loving it.

A Schadenfreude Question: How many of you have watched the video of the Saddam hanging? I'm curious. For the record, I haven't.

Posted by Chris at January 5, 2007 07:11 AM | TrackBack

I watched it several times. I do not believe he had any right to a dignified end.


Posted by: Wicked H at January 5, 2007 07:22 AM

I didn't. I just don't think I need to see it, though I can understand if people who he directly harmed may want to.

Posted by: Nicole at January 5, 2007 07:32 AM

While I agree with you about the whole giving in the spotlight thing, I have to say, it drives me kind of bats when people say how some rich person *should* have spent their charity dollars. It's their money, if they want to pipe it down a tube in their backyard to help the Keebler Elves get back on their tiny little feet, that's ok, because it's their money.

If I were to win the lottery today (and it's a possibility! I have a ticket!), I would help a few people who are close to me and my family and then the absolute rest of my charity dollars would go to animals. And it would piss me off if someone were to tell me that I'm not spending my money correctly.

That Koran thing was very cool. Jefferson has always been one of my favorite historical figures, even if he couldn't keep it in his pants.

It could be worse for Jeremy Miller. He could be working at an actual McDonald's. Or he could have gone the way of many other child actors. He's just doing his job and getting paid to do it.

I have not watched the hanging and do not intend to.

Have a great weekend y'all!

Posted by: Contrary at January 5, 2007 07:33 AM

Haven't seen the hanging video; don't really care either way.

And I totally hear you about Oprah and where she chooses to spend her money. Personally, I wonder what 152 kids are going to do with a 28 building campus... that's less than six kids per building. Perhaps investing more in finding girls that need the education and less on construction would have been more appropriate?

Posted by: Jeff at January 5, 2007 07:38 AM

Okay, so here's a confession. For the past year or so that I haven been reading you, I haven't known exactly what Schadenfreude meant. How I found out, the broadway channel on sirius sattellite radio ran a song of Avenue Q (a puppet musical) with that title, and they define hi. Hi, I'm pitiful.

No, did not watch the Sadam hanging. I'm actually for capital punishment and think it's disgusting it ended up on the internet.

Posted by: jodi at January 5, 2007 07:42 AM

*Clap clap* on the Oprah thing. i think you're spot on.

No I haven't watched the Saddam video and have no plans to. I actually don't agree with capital punishment at all, even in this case. Yes, he was what some people might describe as a "mass-murdering f*ck-head", but does killing him bring back the people who died? Or undo the suffering of those who were affected by any of his actions?

No. They might feel a sense of retribution, but I'm not really a supporter of vengeance anyway. Just my $0.02.

Posted by: starrynite at January 5, 2007 07:49 AM

I did read something that Oprah said - that, in the beginning, she did reach out to inner city schools (I don't know about Chicago, but common sense would say she did something in her own town) and never felt that the yearning for education was there. So, she decided to go where kids really want to learn. Just thought I'd throw that into the conversation. I do like Oprah, though sometimes I get a little annoyed by her, but you know I eat UP her magazine each month.

Posted by: Sam at January 5, 2007 08:01 AM

I think that charity should begin at home.

and I didn't watch the video.

Posted by: cassie-b at January 5, 2007 08:02 AM

I have to admit, I do enjoy Oprah's Christmas special, where she gives out her favorite things to everyone in the audience...That's pretty cool. I guess whatever she wants to do with her money is fine, it is going to a good cause, but like you said, it would also be nice if more of it was used in her own city.

As for Saddam, haven't seen the actual video, only the part where they put the rope around his head. I kinda feel bad for the guy, but he is getting his just deserts for what he did.

Posted by: Michelle at January 5, 2007 08:18 AM

I wont watch the hanging...I have no need to see it.

As for Oprah, I adore her, she is a very giving person. She also has this to say about why she built the school in Africa:
Meanwhile this is what Oprah had to say about inner city kids in the U.S:

"I became so frustrated with visiting inner-city schools [in the U.S.]," she revealed to Newsweek.

"If you ask the kids what they want or need, they will say an iPod or some sneakers. In South Africa, they don't ask for money or toys. They ask for uniforms so they can go to school."

Posted by: at January 5, 2007 08:21 AM

I haven't watched the video and don't plan on doing so.

Posted by: Emily at January 5, 2007 08:23 AM

I have not watched the hanging. I do not feel the need.

As far as Oprah helping the poverty in Chicago, isn't that the Democrat's job :)

Posted by: William at January 5, 2007 08:23 AM

Hell no, I haven't watched it.

And in my ongoing quest to make libertarians look less crazy to the general public, here is a cool take on Oprah's newest photo-op...
Really? Kids in the US don't want to learn? If that is true (which I doubt), it sounds like an institutional problem to me. But, doing anything about it would be admitting we have been fucking up for the past 100 years or so, so that's not going to happen.

Posted by: Leah at January 5, 2007 08:27 AM

I agree those who believe their money empowers them to do such things should empower the children here at home.

Although I think the execution was a victory for some, it is rather disgusting that it was taped, and I do not want to haunt my imagination with images of the physical act, I have not watched and will not.

Posted by: Steff at January 5, 2007 08:31 AM

I haven't watched the hanging. I don't have an interest in seeing it.

Did you see this? http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4443091.html

Posted by: mdv at January 5, 2007 08:45 AM

I get what you're saying about Oprah, and I certainly think that the money could have been spent in a way that it would help more than just 152 girls...but it is her money, to do with as she chooses. You can't please all the people all of the time or even some of the people sometimes...

as for saddam...didn't watch the video, didn't read the coverage, don't care to. While he did do horrible things, I am not a proponant of state-sanctioned killing to show that killing is wrong...Also, I don't think that a) his execution or b) the video of it is going to help get Iraq back on track. It's a mess over there, and I fear it's only getting worse...

Posted by: suze at January 5, 2007 08:50 AM

Judging from the way the school system is run in the community I work in, I'm thinking maybe it's an easier thing to cut through all the political BS and red tape and open up a school in Africa than it would be to do the same thing in Chicago. But then, I could be wrong. I don't much give a damn about how many cameras are around. At the end of the day, the children are still receiving services so what do I care if someone gets his or her jollies off by being on camera for fifteen seconds.

I didn't watch the video. And I'm disturbed, quite honestly, by the people who seemed to derive pleasure from it.

Posted by: pea at January 5, 2007 08:51 AM

Oprah has done way more in the US than the 10 mil she ploped down for the school. If you watched her show and did followed her actions more than just the sound bits from the media you would understand. Now, lets talk about why you always find something negative about a positive event. YOu bashed Madonna and now Oprah. I suppose you have something negative to say about the guy in NY that saved the kid having a seizure? Hmmm...maybe he knew he would be on TV and the Donald would send him some cash. sorry, but sometimes I just have to say what I am thinking.

Posted by: linda at January 5, 2007 08:58 AM

I do not really care about Oprah. Is she helping people in need? YEs. However, I donate money myself too and let me tell you it is not 0.5 percent of my networth. It is much more! By the way, do they get a tax break by donating? Just curious. I have not seen the video as of yet; however, my understanding is that he was praying but they did not let him finish. Why would people watch another human being (regardless of what that person has done) killed? I do not get it. I kept asking myself why did they do it during the holidays. Then again, I am against capital punishment. It aint right. Some people I know cried because they did not feel that is was necessary to kill him. Also, Where the heck is Osama and why he has not been caught yet?

Posted by: Katherine NYC at January 5, 2007 09:19 AM

I have not seen the video and didn't know that it exsisted. I am really torn over that situation to begin with. I mean aren't we supposed to be over there to make things better and bring those people into a more civilized way of living? Yet we have no quams about them hanging people in the streets. ( I suppose this is where they hung him I really don't know though)

I know he was a bad man who did many horrible and bad things and punishment was most deffinatly due but I think he got out of it easy. He would have rather died than lived out his day in humiliation of being caught.

Just a thought.

Posted by: Kelly M. at January 5, 2007 09:23 AM

I often see the gray between the black and white and it's pretty annoying sometimes. See, I agree with you about Oprah and I agree with those who disagree with you about Oprah. There are valid points on both sides. She can't find kids who long to learn here in the US? Then again, it *is* her money. I'm such a waffler.

Love the Koran story. Virgil needs to shut the hell up.

Haven't seen the McDonald's ad. I'll be on the look-out for it.

I haven't seen the video, nor will I seek it out. I didn't agree with the execution because I think it's made him a martyr to a lot of people who just didn't need another martyr to kill for. The problem with vengence is that it doesn't have an end.

Posted by: candace at January 5, 2007 09:25 AM

I watched it. I wasn't planning to, nor did I really want to.

But I was following unrelated links and came upon a blog that had posted the entire video.

Both of us watched. It was like watching a train wreck unfold. We didn't want to se it, but we couldn't turn away.

Posted by: Allan at January 5, 2007 09:30 AM

I've seen the video, and was a little disappointed that Saddam went so easily. I guess he will be the new martyr for all those that need one.

Posted by: jennifer at January 5, 2007 09:30 AM

My favorite bit of press about the Oprah school is that she oversaw all of the details, "down to the thread-count of the sheets". Seriously, step down the thread-count and give the difference away elsewhere.

Posted by: Melissa at January 5, 2007 09:45 AM

I wish Oprah would remember all the young girls in this country. Andre Agassi and Tiger Woods both have academies where kids learn more than just sports and must maintain high GPA's to keep attending. One is in LA the other is in Vegas. Chris Everett is opening one in Florida too.

I did watch the Saddam video, such as it was. Do I feel bad for Saddam? No. Look at what he did to that entire Kurdish village with gas, with bodies lying all around, women and babies and men. No. He deserved exactly what he got!

Posted by: Maribeth at January 5, 2007 09:45 AM

I'm not a big Oprah fan - not a big TV/personalities watcher in general - but my understanding is that she DOES give very large chunks of money locally as well, it's just not as glamorous and therefore not as media-worthy and you're less likely to hear about it.

Of course if all she did was give to U.S. based charities or communities, you'd have a whole other group accusing her of losing her roots, being US-centric and not caring about the strife in the rest of the world (and so on, and so on... because people with money can't escape their critics -- even when they're giving so much of it away).

Posted by: Tonya at January 5, 2007 09:57 AM

Perhaps it is that so many people in this country have the ability to give, and that we are all hard-wired to give to the people near us rather than far away that Oprah's gift is not as bad as people are making it out to be.

The chances of a rich South African giving money to a school and benefiting women is very, very small compared to the chances of the millions of well-off (we can't say rich!) Americans who think that by being born in this country, the poor here are more worthy somehow.

I am not saying the children in Chicago are less worthy. But they have more of a chance (like better odds in the lottery) to change their own life or have another opportunity to find them. If the U.S. only gave at home, or only gave money for basic necessities in other countries, it would be incredibly xenophobic and a truly frightening world to live it. Third world countries need to change. Inner-city schools need to change.

Here in the U.S., we have the government dollars and the ability to reach out to kids (as many charter schools have shown), and we instead depend on celebrities to pour MORE money in specific schools instead of making systematic changes across the board. Maybe, oh, I don't know, changing the racist and elitist system that property taxes determine what goes into a school's funding? All children in this country should have the same amount of funding in their schools. Then, we might even change things like white flight to suburban schools... Hmmm...

Posted by: alektra at January 5, 2007 10:09 AM

Well, someone beat me to the quote from Oprah about helping kids who want to be helped. If you were in her shoes, would you want to give your money to kids who want ipods or kids who want an education? Cut the woman some slack - technically, she doesn't *have* to do anything to help anyone.

Haven't watched the Saddam video myself. My boyfriend keeps joking they didn't hang him, but one of his body doubles instead.

Posted by: Traci at January 5, 2007 10:10 AM

I can definitely see your point, Chris. It's hard to find fault in anyone giving money to opena school - that's 152 girls (and their children, and they're children's children, and all the people they touch in some way) that are affected for the better.

Which just makes me think - instead of one $40 million school, what if it were forty $1 million dollar schools? All over the globe? Imagine the potential.

But (as has been said) - her money, her perogative. I'll just have to create my own media empire to see how my idea would work. Want in on the ground floor?

Posted by: SpaceCase at January 5, 2007 10:12 AM

I have no idea how much Oprah has done locally, but she doesn't really strike me as the type to jump on the Africa bandwagon just because it's in vogue (*cough* Madonna) right now. Not that I don't think adoption is a good idea, no matter where or how trendy, but 'Madge' has certainly proven over and over that she knows how to work the media to her best advantage.

I haven't watched the video, aside from the early bits that got run on the news. I have no real desire to. I'm on the fence about the whole "killing to show killing is bad" issue, but he'd certainly forfeited his right to keep sharing the planet. I'm still in favor of the giant sling into orbit, for that purpose, but nobody ever builds one.

Posted by: Kate the Shrew at January 5, 2007 10:13 AM

I haven't watched the video and I don't want to either. There is nothing to be gained for me to see a man die. No matter who it is.

Posted by: donna at January 5, 2007 10:19 AM

I haven't watched the video. I just don't know why anyone (except perhaps relatives of people he murdered, much like our own executions) would need to.

I'm happy for anyone that has the money or the time to give to others. It is a win-win situation. If I had more of each, I'd do the same. I mean *really*, it takes the question "What do you get the person who has everything for Christmas?" to a new level. When you have that much coin, what in the hell do you do with all of it??? Burn it in the fireplace? Stuff your mattress with it? Mix it with some water, whip it up in the blender and spread it on crackers??

What she's done is made her fortune REAL. On financial documents it looks one way, but boy, when you start handing it out, it sure looks different.

Posted by: kristen at January 5, 2007 10:33 AM

I wasn't sure about Oprah's motives when I first heard about her new venture in S. Africa, however after hearing her point of view on her attempts at giving closer to home, I kind of admire her efforts. She gives more money than almost anyone, and to paraphrase her, she said that when you ask kids here what they need, they'll say an iPod or sneakers. Yet when you ask those kids in S. Africa what they need, they'll say something like "uniforms so I can go to school". I think what she's saying is kids here in the US expect a handout, while these bright kids in S. Africa just want a chance to learn. Heck, I applaud her for trying to bring a chance at education to females in such a poor environment. I hope it's successful.

Saddam's hanging vid -- yep, I've seen it. Got no problem with it. The way that noose was designed, it would have snapped his neck, killing him instantly. Evidently, the design was successful. Good. He was a cold, heartless, cruel, thoughtless, evil bastard who deserved to die. He deserved no dignity at his execution. Good riddance. Thankfully he didn't sit in an American prison on death row for 10 years, while appeal after appeal was filed. He was sentenced to death, and to death he was put.

I have to say, I fully expected a Friday comment on Rehnquist's addiction to Placidyl!

Posted by: coolchick at January 5, 2007 10:45 AM

I watched it... accidentally. It was on another computer and I just happened to turn around at the wrong time. It wasn't as gory as I expected it to be. It was like one minute he was there, taunting the gaurds, mocking them, and the next minute he was gone. Just like that.

Posted by: Betty at January 5, 2007 10:54 AM

I used to be an Oprah fan, but seeing her on TV lately makes me grimace and squirm uncomfortably on the couch.

Posted by: Liz at January 5, 2007 10:56 AM

Nope, I didn't watch the video. I have just a little thing about not wanting to watch people die by other people's hands. Just a little personal preference of mine.

And Chris....Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris, Chris...finally my dear, we disagree.;)

Posted by: Kelly at January 5, 2007 11:09 AM

Haven't seen the video. Yuck! I'm not sure about the Oprah thing either. I mean...I commend her for the work she's doing, but I agree with you that it gets more press to do good in Africa.

Maybe...and I'm just going to throw this out there and see if it sticks...she thinks that it's easier to bring African blacks to a successful life than it is to achieve the same end with American blacks who may have been so exposed to extreme Capitalism that they confuse their "needs" (education, shelter, food, support) with what they "want" (all of that plus a big car, bling, FUBU clothing).

You could say the same thing about whites too, if you could find a group of indigenous whites with a rich heritage/history on a poor continent that is racked with violence and ignored by the richest country on the planet...unless we want a cut of their resources.

This is just what I'm wondering...NOT what I think my own self.

Posted by: wordgirl at January 5, 2007 11:15 AM

I watched the hanging video a few times. I was much more disturbed about it before I watched it. I would like to take a tiny exception to all the people who say "I don't want to see a man die.." or words to that effect. Do you watch TV? Movies? Do you ever witness violence at all? What is the difference? Because one is fake and one is real? It doesn't matter to me. It's all disturbing. To say that watching Saddam die vs. a film or show is worse doesn't really make sense to me.

Personally, I do not enjoy or purposely watch violent movies or shows. However, it exists. Violence is real. It takes place every single day. People seem to enjoy watching it. Killing of any sort is violent. Hanging a man is violent. Do I want violence to end? Of course. More than anything (and not just because my son is fighting over there in Baghdad right now). But, watching it doesn't mean I condone it. I don't support capital punishment at all. If anything, I would rather watch a real hanging in order to understand it than watch an entire episode or season of the Sopranos. (I did watch an episode and didn't like it.)

Anyway, I understand squemishness and any opposition to viewing the video, but I still believe that in order to understand things, we actually need to acknowledge them. I feel better after watching it because my imagination was much more gruesome than the real thing. But that's just me.

I truly, truly believe that if we saw footage of our soldiers and the caskets coming home, there would be far more real outrage for this war. People really are ho-hum about it. We say we're opposed to the war, but we don't do anything about it. (Most of us.) So, I guess what I'm saying is, seeing it makes it real to me. If it's real, I'm more likely to be motivated to do something about it. That's all.

This long-ass comment brought to you by my snot-filled head. I wish I could be more articulate! I have many qualifications and caveats to this comment, but I am out of time. TTYL!

Posted by: anita at January 5, 2007 11:23 AM

As a person who has long had her eye on working in Africa, all these opportunists are pissing me off. I'm beginning to feel like people will see my involvement as some sort of...I don't know...something NOT what it is. And I do think celebrities are in a position to do more good in the world than most of us common folk, simply because celebrities have money and a name to lend to a cause. Strangely, you don't hear (much) about the celebrities who are doing more than donating money, the one who are going to these war-torn, AIDS-ridden countries and giving of their time.

That said, I agree with you about Oprah. I think that her good intentions are sometimes motivated by other things. And you're right, a lot of people in our own backyard are suffering and need assistance. Our public school system is a joke. Our prison system only serves to perpetuate crime and create a homeless, addicted population. Women and children aren't safe.

I'm about to start ranting. I'ma shut up :)

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at January 5, 2007 11:31 AM

Oh, and to answer your question, I haven't watched it and never will. A#1, I don't think I will ever have the urge to watch, by choice, someone die no matter who it is. B#2, I don't think killing him was the right choice.

Posted by: Sparkle Pants at January 5, 2007 11:33 AM

Nope. Not watching. Not big on watching people actually die. (But somehow I watch people shoot each other in movies. Go figure.)

IMHO, any good doing counts at home or abroad. Help is help.

Also IMHO, a lot of the world is poorer than America's poorest. Sure, there are kids in the US needing help, but you still have the opportunities unlike, say, Africa and Asia. Elsewhere, there are siblings who took turn going to school because they could only afford one uniform and kids who can't afford to buy pencils, kids who are being forced in to labor, militia, or prostitution. Elsewhere things are worse.

The bottomline is that we are all in the same world and any help is still better than nothing. :)

Posted by: Oakley at January 5, 2007 11:51 AM

I watched the Saddam video yesterday as the news is everywhere and I wanted to see what all the uproar in Iraq was about surrounding the video. I'm opposed to the death penalty and I find it terribly disturbing that this was videoed, but I watched it.

We were on vacation when he was hanged. I frantically spent days keeping this away from my eleven year old son as I had no idea how graphic this would be.

I read this morning that a 10 year old boy hung himself apparently immitating Saddam's execution.

As for Oprah, I adore her. I think she's done amazing things and I feel she can spend her money anyway she wishes. Still, I agree that $40 million dollars seems like an enormous amount of money for one school. Africa is a country in crisis. The children are paying a huge price as many are loosing their parents in massive numbers to AIDS. Everytime I see something on Africa, you see these poor kids and their massive desire to simply go to school. It's heartbreaking and astonishing given how much most of our families have and take for granted.

Posted by: Diane at January 5, 2007 11:52 AM

First of all, I have not watched the execution video. The entire thing makes me sick to my stomach. Ugh.

And I 110% agree with you on the Oprah thing - I think it's fine that musicians and actors want to help people in Africa and overseas. But our own country is suffering. We need to help the people HERE first.

Posted by: Stephanie at January 5, 2007 11:55 AM

Yep, Africa is the latest celebrity trend. Agree.

Yay for using the Koran! Especially Jefferson's - how cool is that!

Yep, I watched the video. Sick, but was curious.

Posted by: Heather at January 5, 2007 12:13 PM

We saw that McD commercial last night, and then we saw that it was Jeremy Miller, and we were like, WTF? I really have no idea why his ugly mug is flashed at the end of that ad. Do you?

Also, I've noticed a lot of Carmen Elektra in ads these days. Is she hard up for cash, or what?

BTW, Happy New Year right back at ya!

Posted by: Jen at January 5, 2007 12:32 PM

I haven't watched the Sadaam hanging and I won't. I don't like to watch death and dying, no matter whose it is. I'm not going to get started on how I feel about the death penalty...

And Oprah...I suppose it's commendable that she's doing good SOMEwhere, but ...

Posted by: fw sunshine at January 5, 2007 12:46 PM

What Allan said about the video of Saddam's hanging.

Posted by: Alison at January 5, 2007 01:06 PM

haven't watched it.
although my husband has.

(and don't you love how the media feels the need to introduce Oprah [eg "leading talkshow host, Oprah Winfrey"]? because otherwise no one would know who they're talking about ...?)

Posted by: s@bd at January 5, 2007 01:10 PM

Here's a good reason to NOT watch the hanging, or better yet, not let your kids watch it:


Posted by: fw sunshine at January 5, 2007 01:16 PM

I don't typically watch Oprah. But I did see one episode on the school systems in America that made me sick. I mean, I had no idea it was in such a mess. So yeah...she could have done something more for America.

(But dude, who am I to talk? She's doing more for me. Although my Dad is a public high school teacher and we *tried* to live off his salery my whole life and that was hard!)

I didn't watch the hanging. And probably won't. Yuck.

Posted by: Isabel at January 5, 2007 03:15 PM

Even Oprah isn't a big enough force to make a difference in the deep, entrenched hopelessness of the inner cities. It's not a culture she knows about, it's not a language she speaks. I'm even guessing she has no creds there. My experience is limited to one friend - whose highest aspiration was to have a cold 40-oz over ice on the weekend and not get picked up for something he didn't do. To him, there is no other world, and education has no meaning whatsoever.

Who's Jeremy Miller? I'm so old.

I don't fathom killing under any circumstances, and no way could I stomach watching an execution. I know better than to watch something that would haunt me for months. Death doesn't frighten me in the least and I've been in its presence many times. But having a life taken - that's an early and very deep dread, probably one of my most powerful fears. Not. Going. To. Go. There.

Posted by: bhd at January 5, 2007 03:17 PM

I'm on the fence with that one... yeah, it's her money, and she can do what ever she wants with it, but it would be nice to see that here at home.

Really cool about the Koran.

Hey, Jeremy could be dancing with the stars... or with the fishes... a guys gotta make a living somehow...

I have not seen it. I do not want to see it. I hope now that in some small way, the families that his evilness has affected can have some bit of closure.

Posted by: Karen at January 5, 2007 03:51 PM

I don't know what McDonalds is doing using Jeremy Miller as a spokesperson. He doesn't make me hungry... In fact, I may never eat again. Maybe he's dying and his last wish was to be on a commercial. That's the only excuse I can think of.

Posted by: Tink at January 5, 2007 05:01 PM

I haven't watched it and I'm trying to keep the girls away from it.

I'll save my rant about hypocrisy for another time.

Posted by: ann adams at January 5, 2007 05:21 PM

I tend to agree with the whole "charity begins at home" idea, but it is O's money and she can do with it what she chooses. It does seem like a ridiculous amount of money to spend on such a small benefit though. Less money per student and more students would have gone a lot further.

I watched the video...Snapped neck-quite a humane way to go, actually. One of my military friends suggested that the Iranian method of hanging (I've no idea if this is true) would have been more fitting. Supposedly, they put the noose around the neck and then winch them up off the floor to strangle...ick.
Personally, the only thing I found shocking was the speed with which the process was carried out...trial/appeal/execution/damn!

Posted by: Jaycie at January 5, 2007 05:22 PM

Oprah: I can't fault her on this one. She helped 152 girls realize something they only dreamed of.

The feel good: Hadn't heard that story - how freaking cool! I'm wondering if he still had to say "So help me God" at the end of the swearing-in.

Painful: Apparently Jeremy Miller is HUGE in Japan. At least, that was the word during the Growing Pains Reunion. (I know, I'm lame)

Question: Haven't, have no desire to. I don't consider Saddam worthy of the time it would take me to watch it.

Posted by: Beth in StL at January 5, 2007 07:24 PM

i hadn't watched the saddam hanging video until you mentioned it, and then, of course, i had to run over to youtube and see it. i'm willing to bet despite his tough-talk, he was scared shitless.

Posted by: b. at January 6, 2007 12:45 AM

I haven't watched the Saddam hanging.

About Oprah...interesting dilemma. Part of me thinks use the money in the U.S., and part of me says do whatever you damn well please with it. :P

I think about this every day...what is acceptable for me, do I need a big screen tv, a modest home, a nice car and money in the bank when so many have so little? It is a difficult quandary, how much to give and how much to better your own life. I'm sure if I had Oprah money...I would probably go crazy and be broke in an instant.

Posted by: Nanette at January 6, 2007 02:34 AM

My mother in law recently sold all her earthly possesions and joined the Peace Corps, landing her in South Africa. Which is great, except that she is one of those that has gone for all the wrong reasons. She sends emails "From South Africa!" and cards the same. She keeps a blog where she compares her village there to the snooty, very rich community she grew up in, somewhere in Ohio. It's sort of digusting. She is feeding off the attention of the great big sacrifice she has made for the greater good instead of just humbly going and serving.

I think the lack of humilty on the part of all these sorts of people is what gets me the most.

So, I feel you, dog. I do.

Though I do confess that I grew up way the fuck below the poverty line and would have killed for an opportunity like this one.

Posted by: mr. lady at January 6, 2007 02:51 AM

I agree with the whole giving back thing. I would love to see those who get paid insane amounts of money to entertain us (including athletes and Robin Williams) have some small percentage of their respective checks be automatically scattered among the charity lines.

Un-American? Perhaps to the pure of fiscial heart, but wtf? they make more money than most countries.

I watched the coverage of Saddam's hanging the night that it happened but have not watched the video of his actual death. That doesn't appeal to me at all.

Posted by: whit at January 6, 2007 11:32 AM

I was sick when I heard they hung him.

Posted by: Leilani at January 6, 2007 04:45 PM

I didn't watch the video of Saddam's hanging, though I know many people who did.

Great post! And Happy New Year! :)

Posted by: Mala at January 6, 2007 06:43 PM

nope. no video watching. shudder

As for Oprah, hard call. One one hand, I agree with you: I do think charity should begin at home. But, on the other hand, it is her money. I think what bothers me in particular about this particular donation is that she apparently used to visit inner city schools, etc., but stopped because the kids were more interested in 'stuff' - shoes, i-pods, etc. - than education. Yet this is the same woman who makes a big deal out of the latest and greatest 'stuff' every Christmas and goes to great lengths to tell everyone what 'stuff' she's giving to her friends and acquaintances and audience members. Or makes a big deal about giving away cars to studio audiences. So she actually encourages this kind of 'gimme' behavior on the one hand, but condemns it in the kids who see this on the other. Rather hypocritical.

Posted by: ewe_are_here at January 6, 2007 06:55 PM

i watched the hanging

Posted by: kim de kimblahg at January 6, 2007 09:58 PM

Nope, I haven't even tried to find it.

If someone wants to watch it, I think that they should. I have no issues with that.

Personally, I deal with death and situations of the like on a daily basis at work. I don't need to see it.

Posted by: Kyle I at January 7, 2007 12:18 AM

I initially agreed with you on the Oprah thing and then learned about the many domestic charitable contributions she does do here, so now I think Oprah's in a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. When she gets publicity for doing good works, she gets flamed for being "showy." If she does something that's not heavily publicized, it's like she never did it at all.

I think a lot of people who are critical of this move probably aren't very familiar with Oprah's charitable roster--myself included.

Posted by: Frema at January 7, 2007 11:34 AM

P.S. No I didn't watch the video, and no, I don't ever plan to. Yes he was a horrible man, and yes he did horrible things, but something about this still doesn't sit well with me.

Posted by: Frema at January 7, 2007 11:46 AM

I ENTIRELY, 100% agree with you about the Oprah thing. Yeah, she calls Chicago home. And, she talks about being "from" Mississippi. Ocassionally we hear about her doing something in her hometown, but MS as a whole is ranked worst in nearly EVERY aspect (education, healthcare, housing, etc, etc). Yet, like you said, she's getting pats on the back for starting up this school? In Africa?
I agree that we need to focus on US. It may be selfish, but if we (as a people) were in a better position (educated & economically) we could ALL work together to help others.

Posted by: Celina at January 7, 2007 02:48 PM

I watched the video. I didn't need to of course, but I'm a news junkie. It's no different to watching scenes of car crashes, or dead Katrina victims or any of the other morbid and tragic things you see on TV and the internet these days. His death was just a symbol of a wider tragedy. I'm sorry to say that I've become somewhat desensitised with certain things, and am incredibly sad that this is the case.

Posted by: E :) at January 8, 2007 02:31 AM

About Oprah. I know she does a lot of good, but sometimes I feel like she thinks she's Jesus or something. Like she's above everyone, and that everyone should just be grateful or pay the price.

I did watch a bit of the video, honestly I think if were going to be okay with killing him, then we should be able to stomache it. I don't think it's going to change a thing. I would have liked to have strung it out a lot longer, say 10 years of intense pain, the hanging was too quick.

Posted by: Michele at January 8, 2007 03:52 AM

Ok... I gotta say while i can understand the sentiment on the oprah thing, and everyone has the right to mouth off on anything they want to - heck that's what blogs are for, right - it still really gets up my nose when people who haven't made the money feel entitled to tell those who have, how to use it.
read the entry and weep...

Posted by: GreenStamps at January 8, 2007 05:07 AM

No, just not into public hangings. In fact, not into death, violence, screaming arguments or self-righteousness as viewing fare. I also don't like reality tv including girls fighting and people 'dating'. I think I must have died without noticing from being so out of it. At the very least I am covered with a layer of dust.

Posted by: Gillian at January 9, 2007 12:16 AM

Yes, I watched the Saddam video. My morbid curiosity got the best of me.

Posted by: Carrie Jo at January 9, 2007 03:19 PM

Hey Chris, I hate to de-lurk on this one but I have too add my piece. I love Oprah most of the time, although she does at times seem stupid. But I do want you to know that while I see your point, I want to know why kids in Africa are not as important as kids here? What makes them in everyones eyes, less than? We are all a part of each other, all of us are just people. Humans, some good, some bad, but all people who deserve a good life. Plus, Oprah....she does spend money here, tons in fact, but most people have learned to ignore what she does do here....like building 200 homes for needy families after Katrina or building tons of habitat for humanity homes a year or awarding 80 plus full scholorships to deserving inner city kids in the US or building Boys and girls clubs in the neighborhood she grew up in. Really it is her money and she could keep all of it if she wanted, like Trump does and so many others. But she shares it....and African girls who want to learn deserve a great education, just as much as my kids and Mia do. Just sayin. :) Oh and HI!!!!!

Posted by: Melissa at January 9, 2007 11:48 PM

Shit, I put in the wrong email....sorry.

Posted by: Melissa at January 9, 2007 11:49 PM
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