MIAMI – You can hardly beat words like "zombie," "naked" or "cannibal" for a compelling news headline. And all three? In the same sentence? Wow, a promotable bonanza.
That trifecta has fueled Miami's launch, once again, into stratospheric buzz, with plenty of the "you-just-can't-make-this-stuff-up" detail that makes our little end of the peninsula the best news place on the planet.
As tabloidesque as the story may be spinning in some circles, there are valid news issues that we should be looking into:
The police officer's split-decision to fatally shoot a man; the motivation and machinations behind Rudy Eugene's horrific attack on another human being; the devolution of Ronald Poppo from bright, promising student to aimless, homeless man, invisible for decades even to his own family.
The answers to those questions take time to emerge. But the explosion of gross postings and pun-filled jokes has been instantaneous. The subject of most of those is a disfigured victim of a man laying in a hospital bed.
When that kind of public reaction disturbs even the gallows-humor experts in the newsroom, and it has - we've talked about it, it's time for a gut check.
Is it the anonymity internet provides? Is a grizzled, homeless man easy to overlook as human? Is the incomprehensible horror easier to handle with a communal wall of nervous humor?
Miami's Naked Zombie Cannibal story has already taken its place in the "only in Miami" history books, to be told and retold through the generations.
It just feels too soon to laugh about it.
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