What's a Scandal

The other day a friend in America asked me if I was paying attention to the Patreaus Scandal. I told her that I was, but I didn’t really see what all the fuss was about. She agreed and asked if “we,” meaning us Europeans thought the whole thing was over blown. After pausing to reflect on me now being a “European” and thinking about what was recently happening in Croatia, I replied that yeah, most people here probably think the Patreaus Scandal is overblown. I then mentioned that on that particular day the Deputy Prime Minister in Croatia had just resigned for killing two people. Moreover, he actually only resigned after he was sentenced to a few years in prison. This raises all kinds of questions. Is the Patreaus Scandal a scandal because Americans are so puritan that sex still embarrasses us? Or does are media just love to sensationalize the most unsensational events involving important people? I assume the radical perspective would argue that the airtime devoted to a General’s trysts deprives airtime to actual news like the plight of the polar bear, starving children somewhere, and other things that we should actually be concerned about. At the same time, what about the situation in Croatia? Is it the media or a politician’s indifference that explains why the Deputy PM can politically endure a trial for killing two people and not be forced to resign until he is ordered to go to prison? Or is the public THAT indifferent? It seems that in any case the American public might’ve been fed something labeled scandal that they didn’t really felt warranted that label. Meanwhile, the Croatian public might have thought the Deputy PM’s continued time in office was both shameful and scandalous. Finally, maybe I am giving both Americans and Croatians too much credit.