Amber Alert: feel free to call me on this...
08/07/2013 5:24 PM
08/07/2013 5:43 PM
Along with a lot of other Sacramentans, I was sitting at home, doing some Boolean algebra and Greek translation to relax (OK, I was actually listening to music and wondering how many new fleas my cats had imported into my house), when I got an Amber Alert on my iPhone.
And, along with a lot of other Sacramentans, I had never gotten an Amber Alert on my telephone before.
I noted today there was quite an uproar about the whole thing, about how loud the little noise on the phone was, and how it disrupted people's evening, and so forth.
Imagine how disrupted the mother and son who were murdered and burned in their own home felt, and how the possibly kidnapped 16-year-old girl felt (assuming, of course, that she's alive, which I pray she is).
So I wasn't very offended by it.
In fact, the next day, I kept my eyes peeled for the blue Nissan everyone is looking for, which was the precise intent of the alert. I didn't feel inconvenienced. I didn't feel like my civil liberties had been violated. I didn't feel like looking at a text for ten seconds or hearing a tone adversely affected my life in any way whatsover.
When I was growing up in the 1970s in Minnesota, one of the things that scared me the most (other than thermonuclear war and the Vikings being humiliated once again in the Super Bowl) was being asleep when a tornado came through. There would be no way to warn me, unless I happened to be listening to the radio or watching television, other than a neighborhood siren. Maybe the siren worked, maybe it didn't. It sometimes sounded when it was sunny outside, oddly. We had no computers or cell phones. I suppose the sound of a tornado, which I am reliably informed sounds like a freight train going by, would be my only warning.
Perhaps having the top of our house ripped off might also have been a tip-off.
Anyway, we didn't have Amber Alerts.
The situation under which the authorities activated the alert seemed to me to be completely justified; it wasn't like it was a text informing me, like many other texts I get from AT&T, that I could upgrade some phone feature. It was a text informing me that a child's life was in danger.
As far as I'm concerned, getting a text at 10:48 at night seems to be a minor price to pay on the chance that we could help save a scared or endangered kid.
I noted that some people, in response to their evening tooth brushing being interrupted, had angrily turned off that feature on their phone that allows Amber Alerts to come through.
Hope they never need to have an Amber Alert sent out about a child they know or love.
Maybe they'd be a bit more tolerant of a text message or a tone then.
About This BlogJack Ohman joined The Sacramento Bee in 2013. He previously worked at the Oregonian, the Detroit Free Press and the Columbus Dispatch. His work is syndicated to more than 200 newspapers by Tribune Media Services. Jack has won the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Scripps Foundation Award and the national SPJ Award, and he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2012 and the Herblock Prize in 2013. Contact Jack at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @JACKOHMAN.
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