Friday, September 21, 2007

The Real Reason to Go To Nome?

My grandmother clipped this article from her paper recently.

"Day and night, drunks can be seen staggering along Front Street, slumped against buildings, and passed out near the tourist shops or along the seawall on the Bering Sea. Police cart off the worst of them to dry out at the hospital, where the emergency room often has as many as eight drunks at a time vying for beds.

Some never make it out of Nome alive. They drink themselves to death or pass out in the below-zero cold, where they can count themselves lucky if they merely lose some fingers or a limb to frostbite. Many simply vanish, presumably swallowed by the icy waters of Norton Sound.

'The level of alcoholism is intense,' said Greg Smith, who runs the Norton Sound Health Corp.'s outpatient substance abuse program. 'The most dangerous pattern of drinking is binge drinking and it is firmly entrenched here.'"

Actually, this article unfortunately places the town in a very negative light. It is like talking about Chicago and still referencing the Capone gangster problem, or talking about Seattle and saying it still rains all the time (it's a different, light rain, and not all the time, as any Seattle-ite knows the truth).

Yes, it happens, but it is a small amount of the population. Very small. If the author (or AP) would actually check their facts, I bet they would find drunks on the bar streets of their own town. I betcha. It's harder to hide in the small town of Nome.

And then this guy referenced here: "Newman Savetilik comes to Nome to quench his thirst for whiskey. Savetilik, 50, lives in the village of Shaktoolik, 130 miles from Nome.
'When I come to Nome I got alcohol problems,' he said with eyes half-shut. 'I'm not like that in Shaktoolik.'"
Umm, first of all, that is a bad example. It sounds like he can't handle himself when he visits Nome, like some people go crazy at Vegas. The town of Nome does not stand at the airport with bottles of booze and hand them out. This guy does it to himself.

Yet the article makes it sound like it is all of Nome. Not only is it unfair to Nome, it is unfair to native Alaskans.

Just another reason to use critical thinking and reading skills when reading any and all media.

And another thing: "American Indians and Alaska Natives have a 550 percent higher rate of alcohol-related deaths than nonnative Americans, a disparity blamed in part on inadequate health care." I would just like to say that almost all of the "American Indians and Alaska Natives" receive FREE health care at Norton Sound Regional Hospital. True, there is no tank to dry them out, which needs to change. But when this article does not reference who is BLAMING in that statement, I wonder what the hell is going on.

If this is professional journalism, with unattributed blanket statements, I worry about news media.

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