Friday, July 20, 2012

My Thoughts on the Tragedy

I woke up this morning, like many of you, to news of the horrific events at the movie in Colorado. It's very difficult for me to hear about tragedies like this, and I feel a tremendous amount of sadness for the families who have lost loved ones. They are gone forever thanks to the senseless act on one sick individual.

My thoughts on this are varied and scattered so I'm just going to throw them up here to say my piece.

In the coming days and weeks the debate about gun control will rage. It's a challenging discussion for me. On one hand the senseless loss of any life, no matter how it might be taken (because people die from other things besides a person using a gun), is just that. Senseless. On the other hand, as responsible guns owners, my husband and I appreciate the right to enjoy guns for sport and for, heaven forbid, protection. In addition to teaching me to love and respect nature my Grandpap taught me how to handle and shoot guns safely. Those times with him are some of my most treasured memories from growing up, and I surely would not be the self-proclaimed tree-hugger I am without them. I don't know what else can be done to stop these acts of violence by a small percentage of people, but I don't agree with banning all guns from all owners.

One topic that won't receive much attention but probably should is the media's handling of this situation. Yes, we need to know what happened. Yes, we should have accurate reporting. Yes, people who were there will upload their own videos and accounts because they can and should be able to get their stories out. But what disturbs me is the way the story is sensationalized and over-reported by the largest media outlets. The story was everywhere this morning, as one would expect, but I was bothered when I was slapped in the face with a headline that ended with, "The Batman Massacre" - huge font, big bold letters. I'm no psychologist, but I often feel like many of the people who commit these horrific acts of violence do so for attention or to get their message out. Wouldn't it be better for media to report the facts of the event and then focus on the victims and what could be done to support their families or their recovery rather than focusing on what was done, how it was done, and who did it? This would surely remove the attention from the suspect and lower the risk for those who might be interested in garnering the same amount of attention through a copy-cat crime.

There was one other thing that bothered me tremendously as I read through the article about the events of last night. The article I read specifically mentioned a 3 month old victim and a 6 year old victim, and it was stated that other children were among the injured. According to the movie is rated PG-13, and this happened at a midnight showing. What in the world were people thinking having their young children at this show??? It is a parent's right to raise their child they way they want to so if they choose to take them to this type of action film, that's their choice. I actually have less of a problem with the PG-13 rating (it still bothers me, but again - their choice) than I do with the fact that these kids should have already been in bed for 3 or 4 hours not at a movie at midnight. It just upsets me that these kids were in a situation where they, in my mind, shouldn't have been in the first place.

I can tell you that the discussions surrounding this tragedy are going to get UGLY - discussions about personal freedoms, like gun control, always do. Discussions where you question somebody's choices about how they raise their children usually do. You've probably seen some of these ugly exchanges, often fueled by people hiding behind anonymous avatars, in comments across the web. I hope they don't get ugly here - I didn't post my opinions to be attacked or to start an argument, I simply wanted to reflect.

So as I've been writing this I've been thinking back to my Zumba post. What I can take from this experience that could help my students in the classroom? In those ugly discussions people will not listen to each other. They will insult each other. They will say things that are not true and place blame where it doesn't belong. Perhaps what I can take from this is that I need to really focus on helping my students learn how to participate in civil discourse. We need to respect others' opinions, even when they differ from our own. We need to try and make our point without insulting people or sounding like sailors. We need to do our research and support our opinions with fact, not emotion. And we need to treat each other kindly. There's already so much ugly in the world, we need to learn to spread more light.

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