I am very close to the mass shooting that happened yesterday, October 1st at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. Granted I live in Portland – 180 miles north of Roseburg – but I have an aunt and cousins who live in the town made up of about 22,000 citizens. Among my Roseburg relatives is a pastor who will likely be presiding at funerals of some of the deceased. One of my cousins told me that although the identities of the dead and injured have not yet been released, she will likely know some of them. It’s just a waiting game to find out who it is.
How heinous is this?
My post today isn’t about the senselessness of a crime such as this. It isn’t about the innocent lives lost. It isn’t about the victims laying in hospital beds right now still fighting for their lives. It isn’t about the unspeakable and tragic shock that has befallen Roseburg. It isn’t about the call for stricter gun laws or even about the obvious dearth of mental health services for at-risk youth.
As crucial as all the above points are to compiling a complete picture of this modern day phenomenon called “mass casualty” – I believe they are without the most important factor: the public’s obsession with sensationalized news stories and a media only too happy to provide.
The media feeds this obsession. It is entertainment for the public. And by media I am talking about not only local and national news, but all social media as well. The shooter’s twitter account (I will not say his name nor post his picture) reveals that he clearly realized that the more people one kills, the more famous one becomes. The shooter clearly saw this as a positive thing.
In his quest for – I don’t know, masculinity? to be known? to stand for something? – he saw this egregious act as a means to an end, as his best choice to realize his desires. As the details of the crime slowly emerge, the media keeps asking what the motive was. Why did he do it?
THERE IS NO ‘WHY’!
Let’s be real here: NO reason is sufficient. The act is simply heinous and the shooter does not deserve a public revelation of his “why”. No matter what surfaces as his rationale or justification for committing this act, fingers will point at his risk factors prior to. Meanwhile he gets everything he wanted as his picture is plastered on every screen and his name is mentioned over and over. Footage is then shown of investigators swarming his apartment looking for clues. More attention for the glory-starved dead shooter.
The only value in the “why” of this horrific event is in using the information to better equip mental health professionals to identify at-risk youth so as to possibly thwart a future ‘mass casualty’ perpetrator before he stocks up on assault weapons, magazines and a bullet-proof vest.
As to a public statement of ‘why’ this crazy person opened fire at a college campus with the intent to kill as many as possible – please skip it. I don’t care. Maybe he had a bee in his bonnet.
He realized his goal. He killed enough people to become a household name. His fame will linger while experts and law enforcement examine his actions leading up to the act and of course, ponder why he did it.
The public will pop bags of popcorn in their microwave and consume it along with the news – entertained.