Sensationalization and Desenitization

Posted: September 17, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Again yesterday we as a nation were faced with yet another senseless tragedy.  For reasons that at this point are only speculation, another gunman decided to assault an unassuming group of folks at the Washington Navy Yard with firearms.  At the time of this writing 12 people lost their lives at the hands of the shooter and he was eventually brought down, permanently, by law enforcement officials.  Unlike some of the news agencies who put out erroneous information and state exactly how or by which LEOs he was brought down by, in a sense it is an irrelevant piece of information anyway now that it is over.  Besides, in my normally unsympathetic manner and my distinct lack of empathy I  could care less about him anyway.

The event which unfolded was horrific and while I do not pray, I cannot help but feel a full measure of sympathy for the victims and their families and the long road they face ahead.  Unlike many in this country the only thing that surprised me about the attack was the where and when that it happened, not the fact that it did.  Today the “experts” who consult for the various news agencies, who possess credential that in my eyes are of dubious distinction, all failed to identify the real problem that faces those who perpetrate atrocities such as these, not that I have any particular incite either.  They identified holes in the vetting and hiring process for DoD contractors, they identified, in hindsight, the flags that should have sparked warnings in peoples eyes, they even identified his failed military career.  Yesterday post-event there was the typical sensationalist press full of speculation that even resulted in the retraction of an erroneously posted name of the shooter by two national networks (retraction made via Twitter feed by the way).  Hell, even Piers Morgan jumped onto the bandwagon, again, and managed to screw up the point he was trying to make with the ease of purchasing firearms by misidentifying the weapon the shooter used as, his pet peeve, an AR-15.  He outright stated during his pedantic and ill-informed diatribe that Alexis purchased the “AR-15” legally in Virginia.  Turns out that an AR was not even used, it was a legally purchased shotgun and possibly up to two handguns.  Again, those particular facts are irrelevant; not to the investigation, but to the collective group think of sensationalist media and the ilk who take their word as the gospel.  It is irrelevant because it could have been mass murder by butter knife and it would turn sensational to any media outlet regardless of the platform.

Today, in retrospect what I find disturbing is the ease with which I can accept what happened as just another horrific event in a long line of them.  My son texted me when I got home yesterday and asked if it was something that really happened.  I answered back and forth with him in our conversation in short clipped phrasing.  Today I realized that despite my personal callouses I have developed over the years that when it comes to my children perhaps I should not portray to them the desensitized version of me that I have developed over the years.  My son was four when the towers came down and I have been running in support of war ever since.  While he does have his mother’s heart and is affected by events that happen, he does demonstrate the ability to shut down and compartmentalize, icily even, when necessary.  That has its time and place during crisis, but I hope he never  has  to turn permafrost in order to cope with the world around him.

I want my children to be able to react appropriately when crisis happens, regardless of the size or scope of it, and whether or not is to protect others or merely themselves.  Even at their young ages I see the strength in them that will allow them to do so.  Sometimes that requires to the ability to flip an invisible switch inside and stuff down the emotions normally felt and make it through.  What I hope they never lose is the ability to flip the switch back and deal with the effects rather than bury them under walls.

I have been to many countries where violent death is a daily occurrence and it results in more because of misguided interpretations of honor and ideology.  My fear for my children and future generations is that we are becoming so desensitized to mass violence that they will evolve that trait as a necessity.  I hope that rather than cold and callous defense that comes without conscious thought that they instead develop think skin to protect their warm hearts and can effect change incrementally and effectively.  The answers to our problems are not always found in the visuals presented to us and there has not been one sweeping reform that has ever worked in this country.  Maybe our children can figure that out unlike what us and those before us have left them as an example.

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