I had a conversation some months ago with two (young-ish) conservative pundits. One was dismayed to see that another roadside shrine had sprung up after an accident on a busy road near his home. The other told how he'd been talking to a vicar in a town which had recently been the scene of a child murder. The vicar was angry that many of his parishioners (I use that term although I suspect they weren't churchgoers) had sent him teddy bears. He thought it was an example of gross sentimentality and decadence - as did the two pundits. I simply thought it was an example of the public finding its own way to grieve, much as rounds of applause are now replacing the traditional minute's silence. The same goes for road-side shrines; I find them quite moving, plastic wrappers and all.I'm with the vicar and the pundits. I cannot believe these teddy bear carrying people are grieving for a child--or an accident victim--that they don't know.
They can be appalled at the murder of a child. They can send expressions of sympathy to the parents. They can campaign for safer intersections. But what in heaven's name is the point of a teddy bear other than to show off your fine feelings?