Stop focusing on “tragedy” and start focusing on tragedy

I always find it kind of funny how we react to tragedy. Not that tragedy is at all funny, just that our reactions tend to be a bit misplaced. We always focus on the superficial elements. The big picture never really crosses our minds as long as we can relate to what we are reading in some way.

News is supposed to be impartial. That is kind of the point. Reporters are not supposed to form your opinions or tell you theirs (unless you’re reading something like, oh I don’t know *cough* Mouthing-Off *cough*). We report, you react. That is ideally how the system should work.

But we know it is not always like that. The media likes to frame and spin things so you only hear what they want you to hear and focus only on what they want you to focus on. Headlines have become a cunning web in unto itself.

We want to draw you in with catchy and clever titles that leave you wondering whether or not you want to see Hugh Jackman shirtless. That, or the news itself isn’t altogether that interesting in the first place so we have our tricks to get you to read.

This has become the most apparent case with the recent news of the Isla Vista Shootings. The shooter (who will remain nameless for the duration of this piece because we treat these people like Voldemort) has his apparent “mental illness” plastered on every headline.

Not only does this stigmatize mental illness as something dangerous and only associated with psychopaths, it shows how news outlets are shifting our sympathies.

Not only is the “mental illness” plaster silly, it puts criminals into specific groups. If you are brown or arab? Terrorist. You’re black? Gang violence. But if you so happen to be white, you get the lucky medal of “mentally ill.” It makes it sound like everyone was consciously violent except this criminal. He wasn’t in control of his faculties. He was sick.

The biggest problem is that these news outlets are not pointing our regards towards the victims, they are pointing it toward the perpetrator. We do not need to be told that he is mentally ill, as it was pretty apparent from the moment he, oh I don’t know, started murdering people.

This person does not need to be humanized. We shouldn’t want to hear interviews from how his parents thought that “he was such a good kid.”

Misogyny is apparently never mentioned in these articles. Gun violence is something that is rarely mentioned. News articles should definitely be unbiased, but if they are already pointing at least point in the right direction. Our culture has byproducts by the names these killers take and we cannot even diagnose the issue. It starts with how we present these cases.

The more we focus on the shooter, the more we give him what he wanted. Memorializing him is not good journalism. It fosters the problem. What should be done is take every chance we can to focus on those he hurt.

Rest in peace: Cheng Yuan “James” Hong, George Chen, Weihan “David” Wang, Katherine Cooper, Veronika Weiss and Christopher Michaels-Martinez. May your names live on longer than the person who took your lives.