Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Quiet protest

This is one of those stories that makes you shake your head and wonder if the '60s are back, it seems so familiar.

The Guardian's Newsblog tells the story of The Quiet Death of Malachi Ritscher, who burned himself to death near a highway ramp in Chicago a couple weeks ago. Links here to several reports of this story, and puzzlement about why this story was so little covered in the American media.

The Chicago Sun Times had a brief story when it happened, with the victim unnamed. Some media has followed up now, including this AP story on MSNBC. There was one long profile of Ritscher on Pitchfork Media last week, mentioned by a commenter on the Guardian post. Some of the commenters and the profile mention other coverage, claiming the story has not been ignored.

It's a sad story and unclear whether this was a desperate war protest or a very public suicide. But the reaction to the Guardian posting in the comments is quite revealing, from all sides of the political spectrum.

Fascinating story, either way. As the Pitchfork Media story says,
Malachi Ritscher is one of fewer than 10 people in American history to have done this. And as of 2006, it's hard to imagine how an American could successfully use self-immolation as a form of protest.


  • I'm glad you picked up on this. Here in Chicago, it's seemed like Malachi Ritscher's act really would be in vain, if nobody even heard about it. I've been all over the blogosphere, looking for word. Someone on another site asks rhetorically, What do you have to do to get people's attention, if even setting yourself on fire doesn't cut it? Here are 2 Chicago links:

    By Blogger The Pagan Science Monitor, at 1:11 AM  

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