Half-Mast? Still? Perspective? Anyone?

Seriously, half-mast? Here’s a list of causes of death from 2001. I posted this a year or so ago with the hope that somewhere out there someone in world might seize a sense of perspective (this was originally aimed at those who feel all the post-9/11 crap has been wise and worthwhile). So, let me try this again because I’m confident 2007’s numbers will turn out to be similar.

  • 157,400 Americans died of lung cancer (that’s 431 PER DAY — half-mast 13.1x per day anyone?).
  • 42,443 Americans died in motor vehicle accidents (116 PER DAY — and we haven’t yet banned railroad crossings?!).
  • 40,600 Americans died of breast cancer (111/day = 3.4 NATIONWIDE FLAGS HALF-MAST per freakin’ day).
  • 31,500 Americans died of prostate cancer (btw, ratio of money spent to research breast cancer cure to money spent for prostate cancer cure is 9:1).
  • 31,000 Americans died from bad reactions to prescribed drugs (84/day — and pharmaceutical companies are still allowed to advertise?).
  • 30,602 Americans committed suicide.
  • 20,308 Ameicans were murdered (that’s 56 people PER DAY, most of whom don’t live in Blacksburg — where are their half-masted flags?).
  • 19,250 Americans died from hypertension.
  • 17,000 Americans died from the use of illicit drugs.
  • 14,175 Americans died from the effects of AIDS/HIV (39 people. Every. Single. Day. Half? Mast?).
  • 14,078 Americans died from poisoning.
  • 7,600 Americans died from taking aspirin.
  • 5,555 Americans suffocated to death.
  • 3,300 Americans died of gallbladder cancer.
  • 3,281 Americans died from drowning.
  • 2,986 Americans died from terrorist attacks (note: this was 2001 — and compared to all the other people who died that year, this wasn’t a significant number either).

Don’t get me entirely wrong. What happened at Virginia Tech was an absolute tragedy — for the friends and families of those who were murdered (sincere condolences, AW). Made-for-TV or not, by any rational perspective, it was not a national horror. If we’re going to fly flags at half-mast every time 32 people die without deserving it, we’re going to need to build way more flag poles.


(PS: Stop Watching TV News.)