A man in full-out combat gear walked into a theater and started shooting, killing 12 and injuring 59.
The media (mainstream, social, and otherwise) is full of declarations, opinions, and speculations. Buzz words like “crazy,” “tragedy,” “gun control,” “national shame” and a flood of the same cliches that came out when Representative Gabriel Gifford was shot, after Columbine, after Fort Bragg, after Virginia Tech are all over the airwaves. News reporters, pundits, politicians, and celebrities are all worked up into a welter of emotion, anger, rage, and righteous indignation.
I call it noise, because after a while, after so many of these “tragedies,” it becomes just that: noise. Meaningless because it signifies nothing. Nothing will change. Nothing will happen.
You know what?
I don’t care about the Aurora shootings. Why should I ?
I don’t know any of the people who died any more than I know any of the “people” who “died” in The Dark Knight Rises. They are no closer to me, their lives and deaths have no more effect on me than the deaths of those characters. If not for the spotlight of publicity, I would note these deaths no more than any of the other hundreds of deaths that occurred on that same day.
I sit calmly and look inside while thinking about the reports, reading the news and find . . . nothing.
Twelve people dead. That’s a small percentage of the unwanted deaths in this world, even counting only gunshot deaths. Everyone so upset about a fraction of something that happens everyday? Oh, not with the same theatricality and deception (thank you, Rhas al Ghul), but the same. People die, people mourn, police investigate, etc. etc. etc. yada, yada, yada.
But this is different . . . isn’t it ?
No. People die. People get killed. It happens every day all over the country, all over the world. Why should this time draw such attention? A tragedy? Is something really a tragedy if it’s happening hourly all over the world? Why should Aurora mean more to me than Syria or Bosnia? Does it have greater value in terms of blood and life ?
President Obama and Christian Bale have visited the victims and the shooting sight. The composer of The Dark Knight Rises‘ music will dedicate a new song to the victims. Money has been pouring in to help the victims. Hospitals have said they’ll eat many of the costs of treating the victims.
There are hundreds of people to be visited every day, hundreds of sites at which to be photographed, hundreds of victims that could use the charity and the money and the concern and compassion. Why these?
Just as The Dark Knight Rises is a summer blockbuster of cinema, rising above the dozens of other films being offered, demanding attention and discussion, so Aurora is the summer blockbuster of death, garnering attention, publicity, and discussion.
Why is Paris Hilton a star? Because we have chosen to make her such.
She entertains us.
Why is Sarah Palin worth listening to? Because we listen to her.
She entertains us.
Why are these deaths exceptional? Because we are paying attention to them.
They entertain us.
Why are the other deaths on that day not garnering the same attention? Because we don’t care.
They don’t entertain us.
Do these deaths, this tragedy have more meaning, more human pain than the other deaths that occur every day everywhere? Are these people worth more than the hundreds of others who have died and will die unnoticed and often unmourned everyday, everywhere?
The only difference is the spotlight.
People jump into the spotlight because we believe it gives value. These deaths are supposed to have more meaning because of the spotlight. Celebrities and politicians and charities jump to action because of the spotlight. It’s the ultimate expression of our celebrity culture: the spotlight gives meaning to death, just as it gives meaning to life.
So, we have decided that these deaths mean more are worth more than other deaths.
I don’t care.
And if you really look . . . you don’t either.
Maybe the NRA is right. Why should this occurrence cause such a knee-jerk of screaming about gun control and a violent culture?
All the other deaths haven’t.