Foreword: Here’s an article I’ve worked on for the past couple months, and have been going back and forth on. I eventually decided to put it up, because it is as well done as I can make it, plus Journalism, though amateur, unprofessional as mine is, needs to start somewhere. So here it is, hopefully it isn’t too offensive, ridiculous or pointless.
The pulse nightclub shootings, one of the deadliest shootings in US history. It is an event which sparked debate and curiosity, and these things often do. An event which brung such issues as Gun Control and Immigration to the forefront of the publics mind. However these issues, though important, are not the subject of this article. Though perhaps less significant, since around a year has passed and the event is well and truly over, I find it important to talk about the reactions around the events, and how I personally dislike them.
Specifically when I talk about reaction I am talking about the reactions of two certain subsets of humanity during such times. The first being politicians and the second being the media. Now before I begin with politicians I must confess that I am a lefty on the political spectrum, that of a social democrat kind, so there may be some bias that seeps into the article. I will try to keep bias from influencing me in any significant way but it may. So if it does influence this article in any major way I apologize in advance.
Politicians, of course have a vested interest in such events. They are often used as reasons to prove your policy right, they are used as examples, and since the sympathy around such events is great, and people want a reason as to why; it is very much an effective technique. The events very quickly stop feeling like events and more as vague nebulous ideas, because they are talked about politically as such. They are used as examples without a minute devoted to thought about why, there is no unsure debate about the fact that maybe neither or both sides are right. It is very much brung up and it is assumed that you will understand and agree with the politician without the need for further information or explanation. This exact process is quite quick in its execution, it often starts the day after the event itself. It is politicized almost immediately, creating this very quick move away from even debating and just thinking about the issue, and instantly making it a point that proves your ideology right.
Such issues are able to be seen in both sides of the political spectrum, when it comes to the left people like Hillary will say such things as “But today is not a day for politics.” contradicting the line before it which says “We are heading into a general election that could be the most consequential of our lifetimes” I agree on the claim that it isn’t a day for politics. It isn’t. However this doesn’t stop her talking about what she will do, what she will change with lines like “As president, I will make identifying and stopping lone wolves a top priority” Which is very clearly political, flying in the face of her previous statement. Source 1
Of course there is no right side in this argument when it comes to a political party. Ted Cruz used it as an opportunity to attack democrats and blame them, saying “They will claim this attack, like they claimed every previous attack, was isolated and had nothing to do with the vicious Islamist theology that is daily waging war on us across the globe. And they will try to exploit this terror attack to undermine the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms of law-abiding Americans” Source 2.
Bernie Sanders was no hero either, using it for the gain of his gun control position “we have got to do everything that we can to prevent guns from falling into the hands of people who should not have them. That means expanding the instant background checks, it means doing away with the gun show loophole, it means addressing the straw man provision.” Source 3
And of course good old Donald Trump who of course used it for his anti immigration position, saying of the matter in his statement ” We cannot continue to allow thousands upon thousands of people to pour into our country many of whom have the same thought process as this savage killer. Many of the principles of radical Islam are incompatible with Western values and institutions.” Source 4
Many of these politicians could just be using this event to change the world and gain support. After all most of these statements do come out of a place of love or care for your country, I don’t doubt that some of them have good intentions. However I’m sorry, I can’t agree with people using this event for their political gain in such a short period of time after. BOTH sides are at fault here, they both use this for their goals, none just show regret, just say that we should mourn, it isn’t enough for them. They always need to have some point, whether it is gun laws and immigration. It is ridiculous that not one of these politicians just let it sit, just made a statement about how we should simply mourn. They had to use it for their arguments, the problem here isn’t the purpose, it is the timing.
Perhaps this is a petty and ultimately unimportant issue in the grand scheme of the event but still, why can we not let people mourn for a day or a week? Why must we blame something instantly, so many get sucked up in this, that we forget the victims. All it becomes is an event for our ideology’s gain. One side blaming immigration, one side gun laws, both blaming the other, neither accepting that whatever the purpose of this, we have failed. Men and Women are dead, we have failed at our own goal of protecting the people. We should remember, we should look at this and see why it happened, however we should not start blaming others, start saying it is the other sides fault (whether explicitly or by implication) before we mourn and let those who are mourning have some peace at least for a couple of days.
I can understand the need and the wish to make change, however to do it so close to such an event, to instantly start using dead people for goals barely a day after their deaths is just….too much.
To the credit of these politicians, they do not say the killers name, they avoid mentioning him so as to avoid giving him any more popularity something which the media very much fails to do. I also will say on the topic that I am not against using events like this for your politics, I can understand the need to use evidence so your view has support and reasons, as well as the fact that by not talking about these issues we are doomed to repeat them. In the end people do need to talk about it, and whatever the answer is, we need to discuss. That being said to say it so quickly after the event is to me just too far, even a day to me is too little. It just seems to disrespectful to use the deaths of innocents for your politics of which they might have disagreed with. To use them for something they might have never wanted to be used for, whatever opinion it was. To not allow families a week to mourn, to say it while the bodies are still in the morgue it is just….too much. An additional effect of using the event for your goals so quickly is the fact that in getting so worked up over the event people tend to forget the tragedy itself. It becomes less of an event and starts to take on the form of a piece of evidence for your view. It starts feeling so empty, so vapid and disconnected, that the tragedy becomes nothing more then an event.
There is nothing wrong with moving on from such an event, but there is a problem when it is done so quickly and without any mourning and with the singular goal of making your ideology being seen as the most righteous. It is a morally driven argument I know, and perhaps we do have a responsibility to say the cause, even if it is innaccurate, or even if it is politicized. Maybe in this age where attention is quickly drained we must say on the same day the cause and everything about it. I don’t know. It is just that in the rush of blaming something, as I have said many times, leads to it being nothing more then an event.
Then the culture around the shooter, what can best be described as an obsession with them. The desire of the media to look at the shooters in such detail that people end up not only not knowing the names of the victims but also leaving with what is essentially a mini biography of the shooter. I understand where the media is coming from in this, in fact there is value in looking at the past of a shooter and seeing what drove them to this point. Through looking we can prevent what happened and change our culture and world for the better. However the fact that the media obsessively gives reports, insistently tries to find out this stuff and keeps reporting for the entire time of the shooting is just too much.
The obsession, like the politicizing of the event, makes us forget the true tragedy, people are so caught up in the media fervor that in the end no one really knows any of the names of the people that died. There are those that do, those that mourn, or pray on their behalf, even if they don’t know them, but in the end you have to go out of your way to find the names. Plus there also remains the fact that if you want a legacy, if you want to be remembered, if that old adage of “You only die after your name is said for the last time” is true, mass shootings are a very effective way to do it. Omar Mateen will be remembered, his face is well known, he is famous, but the victims, people like Amanda Alvear or Frank Hernandez, they are just a number to most. Nothing more then the number 49.
Of course saying this is useless without a couple of examples, so let us take the foremost news stations for America, Fox and CNN. CNN’s article comes off as obsessing over the victim, giving us details of where he was born, his relationship with his ex wife, what she thinks of him, of his past run ins with the FBI and past investigations, as well as a report from his father about a possible motivation. The same can be said for Fox, it participates in the same kind of attitude. Listen, there is a place for this stuff, there is a place to do this and give info, just not in the same article that gives information about the shooting, one should not have the information about the life of a shooter and his marriage during such an event. I understand the wish to look at the history of such a man in order to stop another event such as this, but to put in the same article as the tragedy that was the event, which as a result draws the attention away from the actual horror of the event and gives us a discount biography. It seems so ridiculous to have such information in an article which should just be about the actual event itself, about how the situation went, about what exactly happened. Not about the man who executed the event, such an article has its place, but its place should be in a separate article, not the same as the one about the shooting itself.
We shouldn’t need to hear about how “He was married in 2009 to a woman originally from Uzbekistan, according to the marriage license, but he filed documents to end the marriage in 2011” or about the fact that he had “A mortgage form from 2013 lists Noor Salman as his wife and Mateen also had a 3-year-old son. Mateen appears to have had no criminal record” Such information has not place in an article about a shooting. It doesn’t matter, it glorifies the shooter shows everyone reading that if you go out and commit a mass shooting you will surely be remembered for a looooong time. In fact people will use you as evidence for the ages, you will be thought about, heard all over and maybe even studied. It is because of this fact that the culture the popular media, and media in general permeates that shootings like this can happen. Of course there are other reasons but the glorification is the major problem the media has about these things.
I know there is an element of hypocrisy to my argument in a way. I am engaging in the same thing I criticize in a way. I am using the dead for my own goals in a way, I am trying to bring this number of the dead to the forefront and say it is horrific that such is used for someones gain, despite me in a way using it for the gain of what I believe. Perhaps the difference is timing. After all, as I have said many times and feel the need to repeat, I don’t wish to end evidence in politics. I don’t wish to end using examples for arguments. I just want to end using it so soon after the event. Another thing to remember is the fact that we shouldn’t make these people out to be matyrs. We should remember yes, and regret the fact that such a thing can happen. However in the process of doing this we should make sure not to glorify them. There is nothing glorious or grandiose about this event. It is simply a tragedy, and should be remembered as much. Then in the weeks after the event we can start remembering it as a failure, if we wish, a failure to protect the people, and the way to fix that failure can then be discussed. After the time for mourning has passed.
When it comes to mass shootings, it is a grim topic. One that is hard to talk about, and one that is hard to find answers for. I don’t know if the media should focus on the victims more, it could very well lead to a sick sort or martyring of them, a culture of having the dead be in a glorified by their horrific end. One thing I do think the media could stand to do, at the least, is stop its obsession with the shooters, yes it is important to find out why they did it. Yes it is important to discuss how we can prevent it, and yes it perhaps should be used as a tool for change, because if we ignore it completely we are doing no better then glorification. However the media could stand to stop making these men be famous, to stop constantly showing their name an image on the tv during the event; and politicians could stand to wait a day or two before using the dead for their political goals. The culture around shooters may not be absolutely immoral, but it could stand to improve so as to be more respectful for the dead and so as to make it so that next time something like this happens, people walk away with something better then the name and life of a killer.