Miracles happen.  And apparently, they happen in Cleveland.

On May 6th, Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight – three young women who were kidnapped and missing for around ten years – were rescued from a Cleveland home.  An absolute miracle that they were discovered and that they were all found alive.

This is a time for celebration and a time for healing…so why is it being treated like a ‘reality show?’

For the past week local, national and international news sites have been saturated with this amazing story.  And although it is human nature to be curious, at what point does that curiosity become exploitation?

For starters, a ‘Today’ show host being in Cleveland to cover the story is not relevant news, it’s just bluster.  Yes, because of this story Cleveland is now the centre of the news universe; but do we really want to be?  Consider the gruesome back story that made this miracle not only possible, but necessary.  It’s not exactly something for which you want to be known.

And in true ‘reality show’ form, the media has highlighted the petty ‘need’ of some people to pick on others.  In the case of the emergency dispatcher who handled the call from Amanda Berry – despite all rules and procedures being followed, getting police dispatched and to the scene in less than two minutes – the dispatcher is under review.

There are two complaints associated with the call: (1) whether the dispatcher should have stayed on the line until police arrived; and (2) the seeming lack of compassion expressed by the dispatcher.

If all rules and procedures were followed, then the first complaint is already resolved.  If it’s later determined that all dispatchers must remain on the phone with all callers until whatever emergency service arrives, then that’s a systemic problem to be dealt with; although – likely in practice – completely unfeasible.  As for not sounding compassionate enough, that’s absurd.  Dispatchers have a critical job to do and don’t have time to have an emotional meltdown.  If this is simply an issue because some people complained on social media, then I think a little perspective is needed.  The dispatcher did her job, move on.

And finally, why are we talking about a made-for-TV movie within days of these women being rescued?  They were imprisoned and raped for ten years; I think they’ve been exploited quite enough.

It sickens me that this is even a thought.  ‘You’ve just gone through the most unimaginable suffering you could – so instead of privacy – we’re going to put your whole ordeal on display for everyone else to see.’  Some would argue bringing stories such as these to television helps to bring attention to important societal issues; I disagree.  We should be openly and actively discussing issues such as rape and kidnapping, not paying some Hollywood hack to make it into entertainment.  Whatever happened to dignity and respect?

I think we can all agree that these three women have been exploited enough by the very nature of how they had to survive for the last ten years.  It’s time for all of us to take a big step back and allow them the space and privacy they need.  These young women need time to nurse their wounds and try to find a sense of normalcy.

No one could do that under a leering microscope.  Real life is not a reality show.

– Erin MacLean