Editorial: Shootings are a national disgrace
The shooting deaths of five journalists at the offices of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland last Thursday is another tragic story tied to a sickness in American culture: the appeal of mass shootings by those who feel wronged.
In this case, the focus is not on the weapon used — a shotgun, legally purchased — but on the fact that the newsroom was targeted by the alleged assailant, 38-year-old Jarrod Ramos, for reporting a crime he had committed in 2011. Ramos had sued the paper for defamation in 2015, lost that case but maintained a vendetta against the newspaper.
Three years later, in an atmosphere that has become charged with hate speech and political violence, Ramos chose revenge by charging into the newspaper offices and shooting through the glass door of the newsroom killing innocent reporters, editors and an assistant salesperson. It was a crime of hate and vindictiveness.
We stand in solidarity with our fellow journalists throughout the country and world, and grieve the loss suffered at the Capital Gazette. As journalists, we often put ourselves at risk reporting the naked truth of the ill-deeds done by criminals in our communities, or raising the ire of community members that may simply have a different point of view. In this environment, our own president has wished harm on those who don’t agree with him (encouraging his supporters to beat up hecklers at his rallies or issuing not-so-subtle threats to political opponents) and he consistently attacks the press (when they correct his constant spate of lies) as enemies of the people. Trump has ramped up this us-versus-them mentality, which has spread its ill will across the nation and shows little sign of abating.
But journalists are not to be singled out for the nation’s sympathy. Like teachers and students, policemen and firefighters, concertgoers and political marchers, we are all in this together. Each life lost at the hands of such senseless violence is a tragedy that must move us all closer to resolution if the nation’s well-intentioned center is to hold.
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