Monday, December 17, 2012

Sandy Hook - Some Links, The Victims and the Media

Over the past several days, the tragedy in Newton, CT, has been on the mind of our great nation, and the world. I was at work on Friday when it happened… A local paramedic I follow on Twitter summed up thoughts of my partner and myself Friday: “I have been on some nasty scenes @ work. I hope I never see something like this.”

Kelly Grayson has a great post up on the thoughts of all EMS and Public Safety being with not only those in the Sandy Hill School community, but in the Newtown public safety community. To the Newtown Volunteer Ambulance Corps and mutual aid EMS (including folks from my employer), Newtown and surrounding FD’s. Newtown PD, neighboring municipalities, and CT State Police, and all the federal agencies that are involved in the response to this horrific event – you are in the thoughts of every one of your public safety family. Thank you for doing what needs to be done, and remember – when the dust settles, you’re victims, too. If you need to talk, or get help – do so. There is no shame is that.

For the second link, there is an excellent blog post that I’ve read a couple of times now posted over at I strongly suggest that you read that, too. I’ve seen kids like “Michael” before. They do exist, and his is not an isolated case.

Now, to the actual events, and my take on them. When I found out about the shooting, I was at work. I turned on the news on the TV for about 15 minutes, caught the first press conference, and then just turned it off. I had no desire to watch talking heads talk about what they didn’t know and make wild guesses.

We live in a world of 24 hour news. I understand that they have a job to do – but that environment can be very toxic. I was at work as a security dispatcher on the day of the Virginia Tech shooting. CNN was on all day in our dispatch center, for a number of sound reasons. They showed the same images repeatedly for days on end as they talked about the events, the killer, and speculated about everything they DIDN’T know. I can’t really think of any benefits to that. All it does is cause stress to those watching it. On top of that, the motive behind many of the terrorists that cause such massive death is to go out in a blaze of glory. They usually leave manifestos and statements, and the media feeds into that by publishing their names and faces, as well as their life stories. They get to be household names in death, when, in life, no one knew who they were.

There was a posting floating around the internet over theweekend attributed to Morgan Freeman that called out the media on their vulture traits. Turns out, it wasn't Morgan Freeman – but that doesn't make it any less accurate. The Fourth Estate needs to do some serious soul-searching (if they know what a soul is, anymore), and really think about what their purpose is. If they want to help, they need to spend more time talking about each of the victims than the shooter – in fact, I’d argue that since the shooter did what he did to gain notoriety, that the worst punishment would be to not mention him. Don’t show his photo. Don’t print his name. Don’t talk with his relatives, and don’t speculate on his motive. In the end, he’s dead, and will answer to no earthly judge for his heinous crimes.

The text attributed to Freeman said something else that really illustrates this point. Let’s talk about “Active Shooter” events of the last few years: How many victims of these events can you name? How many if you discount Congresswoman Giffords? Can you name the date of many of these tragic events? For many of the events, the ONLY thing we remember are the locations, and the names of the terrorists. Let’s honor the victims, and not the event itself.

From WBZ News from Boston, the victims:
Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel D’Avino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hocksprung, 47
Madeline F. Hsu, 6
Catherine V Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Nancy Lanza, 52
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emile Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Rousseau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison N. Wyatt, 6

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