Friday, October 16, 2009

On the Balloon Boy

This is a story you know, but I’d like to discuss my reaction to it.

balloon-boy One minute the president was on television, speaking at a town hall meeting about the rebirth of New Orleans.

In the next, he had been shoved aside by a breaking-news Grimm’s fairy tale.

A 6-year-old boy reportedly had climbed into a homemade helium balloon and was floating 7,000 feet above Colorado, at the mercy of the winds.

For hours on a workaday Thursday, a mesmerized America watched the shiny silvery disc spin slowly against a brilliant blue sky with puffy white clouds.

Emergency vehicles began trailing the balloon over two counties. The Air Force was contacted. The Federal Aviation Administration grounded some planes. And the gripped nation wondered: Was the boy in the balloon? Had he fallen out?

At last, the balloon floated down — a safe landing! — 50 miles from the Fort Collins home where it had been tethered.

But there was no boy.

And then, two hours later, he emerged from the attic in his home, where he had been hiding in fear.

The boy’s father, Richard Heene, said that the family was tinkering with the balloon Thursday and that he scolded his son Falcon for getting inside a battery compartment on the craft. He said Falcon’s brother Bradford, 10, had seen Falcon there before it took off, and that’s why they thought he was in the balloon when it rose into the sky.

But Falcon had fled after the scolding and was never in the balloon during its two-hour journey.

“I yelled at him. I’m really sorry I yelled at him,” Heene said as he hugged his son at a news conference Thursday.

“I was in the attic, and he scared me because he yelled at me,” Falcon said. “That’s why I went in the attic.”...

Inserted from <Kansas City Star>

While working here late yesterday afternoon, I kept MSNBC on to keep tabs on the story.  I worried for his safety.  I prayed.  My heart went out to the family.  But when the balloon came up empty and Falcon was discovered, I felt angry.  The media stoked that anger.  Chris Wallace made a point of describing just how unconventional the Heene family is.  I thought that America had wasted an afternoon.  I thought of all the resources wasted.  I blamed the family.

Then I thought of a different scene.  The rescue workers surround the balloon and remove the body of a dead child.  Would I have rather seen that?  Of course not.  I felt very foolish about my anger and am just glad that the child is OK.


the walking man said...

I am glad the kid is ok as well but I in hindsight look at it differently. This family may not be in the conventional mold but they are innovative and trying to use the Edison model of tinker until it works. Well maybe the Rube Goldberg model but I am just sayin...

Complaint Department Manager said...

I can't believe they're still talking about this! This morning's news just seems to come right back to it, even after it gets it's spot. Okay, I get it, the dad is a douche and the child is unruly, can I get a weather report now?

TomCat said...

Mark, I'm not putting the parents down, but that seems to be the MSM's approach.

C, I agree. Emotional non-issues must sell more soap.