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Sunday, December 21, 2014

A few thoughts on the Connecticut massacre

The tragedy that took place in Connecticut is the biggest story in America and on the minds of most people in the country. We are sickened, ashamed, and saddened about the mass shooting, and we have some thoughts on the horrific ordeal that we feel are important to discuss.

First, our thoughts are with those who were killed in the shooting massacre. We have a difficult time comprehending why anyone would go on a shooting rampage, but it’s particularly disturbing and sickening that someone would turn fire on a bunch of kindergarten children. These are children who just began their lives, and who had no way of actually motivating someone to kill them. How someone saw fit to murder several children is beyond comprehension.

We offer our sincerest sympathies and condolences to the families, friends, and everyone affected by the shooting. I cannot even imagine what kind of trust and faith any child who attends Sandy Hook Elementary School may have lost as a result of being a part of such an awful incident.

What’s also disturbing is that there is a highly alarming pattern of mass shootings in this country. From Columbine in 1999, to Virginia Tech in 2007, to this — and that’s leaving out the Aurora, Colo., and recent shootings in Oregon — it’s pretty clear that the US has a cultural and societal problem on its hands. The perpetrators of these shootings obviously have major mental issues. Are we as a society that is not offering these alienated, psychotic killers the proper help they need? Are we ignoring them? Are we not catching the signs of potential destruct early enough? Do we glorify mass murderers and shooting sprees through our media coverage or things like video games and movies? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I do believe there is something wrong in the US that has led to some of these incidents that you just don’t see as frequently around the world. These are some of the issues that should be discussed.

Another major issue is our gun control. The issue came to the forefront when Bob Costas and Jason Whitlock turned the murder-suicide of Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher into such a debate. Thankfully they did. The country needs more gun control. It’s obvious that we do. We are given many freedoms in America, and that is what makes the country beautiful. But when those freedoms are violated enough, changes are needed. Sacrifices need to be made by individuals in order to help ensure the safety of everyone else.

Yes, there will always be ways to get guns and, yes, there will be violence and killings, but if we have the ability to reduce those amounts in order to help make things safer for the masses, then we should. To those who oppose stronger gun control measures, I say take one for the team. Temporary moments of insanity have far less permanent effects when guns are not present.

Lastly, the news coverage of Friday’s horrific killings was disgraceful. News outlets, following CNN’s lead, reported that Ryan Lanza was the killer and the one who killed himself. That story was later changed and it was reported that Adam was the shooter.

Some outlets reported that the father was killed at home before the shooter went to the elementary school. Others reported that the mother was killed at home.

A CBS reporter said Adam Lanza was born in 1997, which would make him 15, even though every other outlet said he was 20 years old.

In all these situations, clearly someone was wrong.

It’s a true wonder how major news outlets can possibly get such critical pieces of information wrong. How can you confuse the public like that? If you don’t know the facts of such important details, don’t report anything.

One of the biggest problems during sensitive times like these is that there is a dangerous hunger to be first. The hunger to be first on TV in order to get more viewers, and to be first to publish a story on the web in order to get that incredible placement with search engines, causes many websites and outlets to hastily disseminate false, poorly researched, and often misleading information. News organizations and the leaders of media outlets need to clamp down and make sure they are only presenting accurate information, not speculation during such sensitive periods. Think for a moment about what’s more important: Getting an extra couple thousand hits and viewers, or not sullying the wrong person’s name and personal information?

Even individuals who have social media accounts need to be careful about what information they share. Individuals were sharing erroneous Twitter and Facebook accounts of the alleged people involved. This is a reminder to active social media users: Before you blindly retweet or share something via Facebook, give it a second thought and investigate yourself.

Many of these news outlets also need to have a soul. It is an absolute disgrace for some of these TV stations to have their reporters badger young children in order to broadcast interviews. Nobody needs the comments of 5 and 6-year-old children. What does that do to enhance or further the story? And why put them on TV? Use some judgment as a person and have some human decency. Sometimes it’s not about “doing your job.” I didn’t go to journalism school, I don’t know what these reporters and news directors are taught, but I do know right from wrong. Interviewing young children on TV after something like this is wrong. That is a practice that needs to stop.



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