Did you hear the one about the Priest & the Dog Poop?





People are funny.


And there is no understanding what it is that attracts someone to read one story and skip over another. Or skim one story, form an immediate opinion, and dash off a response for the world to see. Or get upset by one thing, like sloppy, thoughtless people, but not be phased by another, the absolute disregard for one the tenets of the laws that created this nation.


It happened again this week.


Some former New Jerseyan now living in Boynton Beach, Florida, it appears, in his infinite wisdom thought it necessary to upload on Facebook a months old newspaper story about a priest who was accused with sexual abuse that is alleged happened 30 years ago. Almost immediately, he was flocked with comments. Well over a hundred of them. Comments derogatory to the priest, comments saying how he’s guilty but being protected, comments like abuse like this is happening too often.


Incensed by the one-sidedness of the situation, I wrote a story about the accuser, the alleged victim. I noted I knew him by name, had interviewed him for a story he wanted me to write about his sexual assault 30 years ago.


His story at that time, coincidentally in time last year to make the deadline to ensure the insurance company would pay out without him every having to swear to tell the truth, wasn’t about the priest abuse he’s filing for now…coincidentally again, before another deadline to ensure payouts…wasn’t about the priest at all.


It was about the scout and the scout leader. Imagine. One kid assaulted by two different people around the same time, both in Atlantic Highlands, one greater than the other from all accounts. Yet he ‘forgot’ to mention the priest then. It was suing the boy scouts story time.


That story, full of details but avoiding lurid accounts, was read, rather perused. There were no sexual descriptions in it. No lurid details. And not a single comment. Not one defense of the national standard of innocent until proven guilty.


Not a single comment on the strange coincidence of two assaults, one victim, one town. Nothing that seemed strange enough or unusual enough in this story to cause a single written reaction.


At the same time, I wrote another story, one that did not require any research, any note taking review from last year’s interview, nothing more than having a great vanilla milkshake at McFly’s on the Hook and observing people coming and going into and out of this charming little cafe near the Lighthouse.


An hour of observation that prompted me to dash off a few lines about how rude and inconsiderate people are for coming into a restaurant just to use the bathroom or dump their garbage. A story about how nosy people are with the questions they ask of strangers who are preparing their hot dog or giving them change for their ice cream.


So which story, the sex assault without the lurid details, or the rude people with plastic bags of dog feces gathered more readers, more comments, more astonishment at how people can be?


The do-do story, of course.


So what drives people to certain stories?


Was it the headline?


Was it the picture of the scooper bag?


Was it a shorter story because people have time to write comments but not to read stories with detail?


I don’t know. You tell me. It’s worth a comment, wouldn’t you think?

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