It’s a truism in journalism that morning newspapers are edited with the delicate sensibilities of morning bagel-eaters in mind, but in my experience, this argument is used selectively. Surely, if it were applied across the board, someone might have balked at the full-page ad with a giant headline reading, “CONSTIPATED? BLOATED? IRRITABLE BOWELS? Amazing new herbal cleansing formula flushes out the harmful, energy-draining fecal matter decaying inside your body.”
Just as your thoughts turn to the question of whether your bowels are full of harmful, energy-draining fecal matter, there’s the news story on the front of the section, “A fascination with death.” Subhead: “Morgue tours gain popularity with teenagers.”
Oh, joy. You can figure out the rest. Thanks to the popularity of “CSI,” more teenagers are thinking, Hey, I look good in those low-slung jeans Marg Helgenberger wears, too. And that black guy is a total hottie! How can I become a medical examiner? And so the morgue tours in two Metro Detroit counties are booked through August and December, respectively. (You should know the through-December booking is the action-packed Wayne County morgue, which is where Elmore Leonard got the title for his novel “Unknown Man #89.” And now you do.)
I have to say, though, that I’m amazed by the access the public has to autopsies in this state. The Freep story features a photo of teenagers staring at a skull-cracking in horror, and another one one stretched out in a swoon. (There’s a fainter in every bunch, the medical examiner says.) You don’t get that sort of access in Indiana, that’s for sure. Is the process valuable? Ask the experts:
“We try to show students there are a lot of things that can hurt them, and they are not invincible,” she said. “A classroom can’t teach them about life and how precious it is.”
In every group, Wrinkle said, at least one student faints.
Some vomit. Some cry.
“And some,” she said, “think it’s the coolest thing they’ve ever seen.”
One 13-year-old was impressed:
“I thought everything was going to be covered with blood, and you wouldn’t be able to see anything.” Heather said. “It wasn’t like that. But the brain looks just like I pictured.
“And,” she said excitedly, “I learned the liver is huge!”
Well, honey, only in the problem-drinking population.