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Chan Lowe: The oil slick's lasting damage


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Ours is a nation that runs on visuals. To put it more bluntly, if we don’t see it on TV, it doesn’t exist.

Those of us old enough and not too high at the time to remember the 1960s recall that what made the Vietnam war so immediate was that Uncle Walter was delivering footage of dying American boys right to our living rooms.

This had never happened in any war before, and many historians contend that it was this sight that galvanized the protest movement. Of course, knowing we could get drafted and end up on that reality show ourselves helped galvanize us, too, but that’s another story.

Conversely, if an issue is too abstract to lend itself to an easy visual, it is almost impossible for the public to grasp. Take the deficit, for example. It’s some kind of bookkeeping thing, right? What does it have to do with us? You’ve probably noticed that whenever it’s mentioned on TV, they use the same lame video of sheets of hundred-dollar bills rolling off the presses at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, because it's the best they can do.

Now, if TV news could somehow travel to the future and depict our hollow-eyed, skeletal grandchildren waiting in soup lines for a handout because the Chinese are taking every penny they earn to service a national debt that we wastrels incurred, we might work up a sweat.

It’s the same with the oil slick. BP and the Obama Administration are counting on the fact that TV cameras won’t show the underwater plumes that will plague us for years, or the consequent destruction of the aquatic food chain, because those things aren’t readily visible the way oil-covered waterfowl are.

Out of sight, out of mind.

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Comments

Once again Chan you have hit the nail on the head.We are leaving a legacy of S!*!I!T to our kids and grandkids.This volcano has not disappeared it is sitting just below the surface.The EA done for this well stated 6.8 million gallons a day and I believe a hell of a lot more oil escaped than has been reported.The american people are to gullible and need to wake up.


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About the author
Chan LoweCHAN LOWE has been the Sun Sentinel’s first and only editorial cartoonist for the past twenty-six years. Before that, he worked as cartoonist and writer for the Oklahoma City Times and the Shawnee (OK) News-Star.

Chan went to school in New York City, Los Angeles, and the U.K., and graduated from Williams College in 1975 with a degree in Art History. He also spent a year at Stanford University as a John S. Knight Journalism Fellow.

His work has won numerous awards, including the Green Eyeshade Award and the National Press Foundation Berryman Award. He has also been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His cartoons have won multiple first-place awards in all of the Florida state journalism contests, and The Lowe-Down blog, which he began in 2008, has won writing awards from the Florida Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists.
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