Sunday, September 17, 2006

Melinda Duckett and the Media

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I'm not really sure how I haven't even heard of this story until now. There is a dearth of actual information on any of the news sites I commonly use, but googling affords a good timeline of news events relating to the story. It's tragic--and not just in the way that every newscaster has feinted the phrase to gain the collective emotive response from viewers that helps boost ratings.

The media is ripping open the family's lives for everyone to see, with detailed commentary on divorce papers, hobbies, mental illnesses, including accusations and assumptions of Melinda's guilt, which should be roles relegated to unbiased law enforcement agencies, not polarizing talk shows. Media even went so far as to begin their own arm of the prosecution, and some assert this, combined with other factors, may have sparked the conditions necessary for Melinda's suicidal intent and delivery.

On some of my own investigatory work (or google), I discovered Melinda's MySpace page, although it is (and has always been) set to private and so one cannot see more details. But looking at the empty profile page alone breaks my heart.

What do I see?

I see an attractive 21-year-old woman, smiling, standing in a blurry picture. I see her heartache, her troubles with the father to her baby, her difficulty in managing her life as a young mother, her fear of loss, her stress, written in unseen text. Her tribulations are tremendous--I will never understand how difficult young, single mothers must have it, nor will a lot of the folks reading this.

I also see a lot of love and hope, both for her own life and that of her child. And I see an empty future.

It's painful to see, and I suffer vicariously just knowing that life can offer these difficulties, but then fails to offer necessary support. The simple fact that I, too, am making light of this story on my blog, and am offering links on where others can find out more information, means that I'm furthering some of the goals of the media that I find hideous. But my intentions are not the same: I don't want you to make a value judgment of Melinda's innocence or guilt. I want you to acknowledge the pain in her life, and the fate that befell her.

I sent a message to Melinda just now, and felt sharing it would tie up my thoughts before I head to bed:

I'm sorry. I'm sorry for your child. I'm sorry for your fate. I'm sorry I was able to even find this page, courtesy of all of the media attention your story has received.

I used to have a friend who also struggled to make ends meet as a young, single mother. She is your age, and deals with stresses I cannot begin to fathom. I am thankful that she is managing so well in raising her son, despite a lot of obstacles thrown her way. I only wish you, a stranger to me, would have an opportunity to see the same for your son.

Rest peacefully,

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