If you watched any national news today, swiped through social media or pick up a major newspaper tomorrow you'll know about the lone gunman at an Oregon high school this morning who shot one student (and grazed the hip of a teacher).
Events like this are becoming sadly more common, but the news/blog cycle will churn anyway with hand-wringing over guns, maybe mental illness. There will be a predictable discussion about bullying. Conservative voices will call out our low morals as a people and liberal voices will question the logic of taking off one's shoes in all airports after a single shoe-bomb threat and yet, after so many school shootings, we have yet to see arms control. (I raise a guilty hand.)
If the next shooting happens in a place like a mall or a movie theater, those same discussions will scroll down our screens the very same. The headline is always something to the effect, "Young, Aloof, Male Becomes Unhinged Somewhere Affluent". (YAMBUSA! Sounds like a brand of crotch crocket!) Ladies on The View will devote a segment to the shooting between the second and third commercial breaks. For the four hundredth goddamn time, we will be like WHY, shooter WHY!? We may even delve deep into that question with interviews with those who knew him best. If the shooter was interesting enough to have a manifesto, plan on at least a week of coverage. If he was attractive, he may even get a Rolling Stone cover*.
What if the teens who shoot each other in Chicago got this kind of coverage?
Four people were shot to death in Chicago just last weekend, for example. Two of them were teenagers. I only know that because I looked it up with my super blogger detective skillz (Google University, class of Never). The first victim of the weekend got a four-sentence paragraph in the media, the last of which was, "officials believe the shooting may have been gang-related." And with that, the case is dismissed in the court of public opinion.
Oh, and no one quoted about a Chicago shooting would say, "You don't expect something like this to happen in your hometown," like they did on Oregon Live.
I can't pretend to understand the dynamic of gang activity. I'm some white lady on the north shore whose biggest problem right now is choosing purple or coral for the new bathroom (for reals though, purple? Or coral?) so it's not like I'm running in the streets of Englewood with with my magnifying glass picking up clues. What I can tell you is people value each other when they feel valued themselves. There is a blood bath going on in our city and it's only going to get worse as the weather gets better. How can we reach these people if we don't care when they die?
Think about the message its sends when teenage victims of Chicago gang violence don't blip the national news. It says those victims don't matter. It says it's okay to take a life over a petty disagreement because that life doesn't mean anything to begin with.
Chicago violence won't stop until we value the victims.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go look at some paint samples. (Purple, right?)
*Niggle on the detail of that being a bomber and not a shooter if you want, but since this isn't post about gun control per se, I'm taking my liberties.
I typed "gang" into Getty Images and got this guy. Yeah, no, sorry Ashton Kutcher.
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