Disasters like tornadoes or hurricanes bring out both the best and the worst in people. After any disaster, we hear stories of heroism where people risk and even sacrifice their own lives to save those of many others. But we also see incredible displays of stupidity blasted to the masses via the internet. People who bash disaster victims as well as those who threaten meteorologists for interrupting their precious television shows are among the most selfish, uncaring kind of fools there are.
To readers in other parts of the country, I feel you. I really do. I'm getting ready to graduate college in Podunk, Alabama where I've lived for the last five years. When people make fun of the south for being almost puritanical in its conservatism and hardcore religiosity, I truly understand where that ridicule comes from. I've experienced and witnessed my fair share of bigotry and polite shunning down here.
But when you take lighthearted regional jabbing and turn it into a contemptuous screed towards people who are suffering, you are no better than anyone you claim to make fun of. Hateful remarks made daily on the 700 Club by Pat Robertson (who blames the gays or African-Americans or women or Mexicans for just about every damn thing these days) are bad enough on their own without the vitriol being mirrored back in kind towards people who have nothing to do with him.
I'm not talking about the "ha ha, southerners can't deal with an inch of snow" kind of mocking. I'm talking about the hate-filled comments that always show up after a tornado or hurricane pass through. This is the kind of stuff you'd expect an unhinged, racist grandfather to say during Thanksgiving dinner. Comments like "I hope the hurricane cleans out the gene pool, if you know what I mean" or "those people deserve to get wiped out; besides, isn't it God's wrath!?"
I started my weather blogging career (if there even is such a thing) in earnest during the back-to-back-to-back outbreaks of 2011. People would flood the comment threads asking how they could help, and just as many would also show off their sheer ignorance and lack of compassion towards other people.
"Looks like those red states are gonna get what they deserve!"
"Oh look, more punishment for the evil gay marriage! HAHAHA!"
"Maybe the tornado will slap some sense into them!"
"Those rednecks deserve anything they get — just as Pat Robertson says, it's God's wrath!"
And so forth. These comments are incredibly common from people in parts of the country that have the luxury of not seeing destructive weather on a regular basis. I've even seen these sentiments here on The Vane a few times in just the last week. It's ridiculous. People's lives are being torn apart by these storms.
Even though you disagree with the political views or dominant religious affiliation of a region, it doesn't make the people whose lives are destroyed by disaster any less of a human being. If your argument is "well, they voted for ___ so that's what they get" or "it's God's retribution!" or "they deserve it for ___!", you're the hateful one.
Speaking of acting like a selfish, ignorant fool, why the hell would anyone complain about news stations warning people that a tornado is barreling towards them? Local news stations are a life-saving asset during severe weather situations. Most stations have a policy in place that when there is a tornado warning for any county within their viewing area, they will cover that storm until the threat is gone so that people in harm's way can get life-saving emergency information.
All of the above comments are publicly available on various television station Facebook pages in St. Louis and Paducah, Kentucky. It is unimaginably selfish to complain that you're missing a TV show because your neighbors are in the path of a tornado.
If you're that offended by news stations warning people that their lives are in danger rather than showing you your favorite television show, buy a damn Hulu subscription instead of acting like a petulant child.
Most television meteorologists have horror stories about the vitriolic phone calls and emails they get when they have to cut into a program to warn people of life-threatening severe weather. One meteorologist told me that the messages they get "aren't for the faint of heart." Another says that they've received violent messages before.
A meteorologist who was in the heart of the storm activity yesterday forwarded along a screenshot of an email they received from an angry viewer:
A quick search on Twitter brings up hundreds of more "UGH YOU MADE ME MISS MY SHOWWWW" whining.
It's unreal. And the scary thing is that these are mostly grown-ass adults saying this stuff!
I can help solve at least one of these issues. Here are the links to every network's cache of television shows they've uploaded to their websites:
There you go. Now you can watch your shows without being interrupted.
As for the people who make fun of those whose homes were destroyed and loved ones lost, I can't help you not be a terrible person. That's on you.
[Screenshot via FOX 4 on Twitter]