Editorial: Mass shootings compete for attention with body count
The latest school shooting seemed almost run-of-the-mill. A Denver school was the scene. Nine people shot. Only one killed.
The synagogue shooting in California received a fraction of the attention that the Tree of Life garnered. A few people shot. Only one killed.
In a culture where we have come to expect our blockbuster sequels to have ever bigger explosions and our horror movie franchises to escalate the body count, it appears that we want the same from our real-life tragedies.
We have seen classrooms of first-graders murdered. We have seen a campus of high school students fleeing for their lives. How can one lone casualty elicit the same reaction when we have seen so much more agony?
We have seen a row of Star-of-David memorials proclaiming 11 killed at prayer. Just one killed in a synagogue must be better, right? It must be less horrible. It cannot be as bad.
But it is.
We need to stop comparing our tragedies, forcing one mass murder to compete with another for a sash and crown no one should win.
It isn’t just about the mass casualty events and orchestrated blood baths. It should be about the individual losses in between that become background noise.
People aren’t wrong when they point to Chicago’s predictably regular slayings as equal carnage that doesn’t get equal attention in a national debate.
We need to try to find solutions to problems of pervasive violence, and that won’t happen if we only pay attention to the next bigger, splashier, bloodier crimes. We have to care as much about one woman killed in a domestic violence encounter in her home or one young man killed on a street corner as we do a Columbine or Newtown or Tree of Life.
Even if there is only one victim, we have to remember it is never “only.” Every victim is one too many.