I was listening to the traffic report this morning when they announced an accident on I-295 South with a gaper delay on I-295 North. If you aren't from a big city you might question the need for such terminology. Can people slowing down to look at an accident really cause a traffic jam so bad that it is worth making up a term for it to use for the traffic report? The answer is yes, absolutely. I actually think it is the perfect metaphor for our society at the moment. We are all in the midst of a gaper delay- or causing one. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.
It brings to mind the story I heard on NPR the other day. There was a boy in Chicago, an honors student, on the way home from school. Call it the wrong place at the wrong time if you will, but he happened upon a fight. The boy ended up being beaten to death. So where's the gaper delay in this story? A passerby caught the entire incident on his video phone! He stood and watched a teenage boy beaten to death and recorded every detail. What about calling the police? What about finding someone nearby to help break up the fight? Nope. This camera man did what we see more and more Americans doing these days, stand by and watch. What's worse? He gave the video to local news channels and they showed the video, including the actual death of this poor boy! What is wrong with people?