No Class: Times A Little Too Cheery Over Tragedies in an Idyllic Disney Town

Did the Times really have to lead its National section with a thousand-word story on a murder in Celebration, Fla., the first the town (built by the Walt Disney Company) has seen in its 14-year history?

In her Friday piece, reporter Kim Severson ("Death and Other Distress In a Town Produced by Disney - Major Crime Stuns 14-Year-Old Celebration, Fla.") showed tasteless excitement over the news that tragedy has infiltrated an idyllic wealthy paradise:

As if the Thanksgiving murder were not enough to ruin things in this subdivision that Disney designed. Now, tanks and SWAT teams?

Here in a community built 14 years ago by the Walt Disney Company as the happiest subdivision on earth - and which, to be fair, has been largely free from urban strife - two major crimes in the span of less than a week have made even the fake snow that blankets the town square every evening hour on the hour seem a little less cheery.

Late into Thursday night, sheriff's deputies barricaded several blocks in this neo-traditional town of 10,000 people and miles of white rail fencing, trying to talk a despondent and armed 52-year-old man out of his home. After more than 14 hours, sheriff's deputies entered his home early Friday and found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.


The killing of Mr. Giovanditto was a crack in the facade of this community, a 10-minute drive from Disney World, that was just too hard to ignore - especially with the standoff coming right on its heels.

Certainly not for media outlets eager to expose hypocrisy, or something.

Severson encountered a tourist critic who came to mock the residents of what she called the "'Stepford Wives' community."

For visitors who come to both gawk and admire the famously perfect community, the murder only added to the narrative.

Beth Guskay drove in from Lakeland, Fla., Thursday with her daughter and granddaughter to shop and hit a favorite sushi restaurant.

"I call it the 'Stepford Wives' community. As soon as you drive in, it's creepy," she said. "I think it's for people who don't think anything bad is ever going to happen to them."