It's one thing to be a parent talking to your kids about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting -- it's quite another to be a journalist writing a news story about it for them. My audience is five- to 12-year-olds and somehow I had to write a story that wouldn't be too scary or grown-up. While I don't get to choose the news, I still get to choose how I report on it.
Monday morning marked the long-awaited release of Wally T. Oppal's Missing Women Commission of Inquiry report. To say commissioning this report was a bit controversial is like saying Pickton himself was a bit murdery. Oppal's investigation basically entailed a jaunty stroll across a packed minefield of modern Canada's touchiest subjects including racism, sexism, classism, aboriginal politics, the sex trade, mental illness, alcoholism, drug abuse, bureaucratic cruelty and police incompetence, all headed by a party hack from an embattled provincial government that might very well poll worse than all the others put together.
Liza Long's now-viral blog post is being heralded as "brave" and "powerful." I believe it is neither. I have faith that Long's post was a genuine attempt to start a discourse on mental health. For that reason, I am thankful she wrote it. I would guess that she loves her children very much and wants what's best for them. This is why I hope she will see the problematic rhetoric in her proclamation of kinship and solidarity with Adam Lanza's mother. It is a much more powerful and brave message to say: "I will not provide my son with a similar context. I will not participate in my country's love affair with guns. I am not Adam Lanza's mother. I am Michael's mother."
We've seen the same debates take place after the shootings in Aurora, Colorado, Virginia Tech, and every time, pundits miss the point. Simply put, there is no antidote for evil. The notion that simply changing the laws will take away the pain and suffering of this tragedy or even prevent future ones from occurring is simply not true.
The Newtown, Connecticut killer is not a Goth. And so I shouldn't even be writing this. The fact that the most media outlets who have run with this are generally tabloids or right-wing is not a surprise. That's what they do best, inflame and demonize. And so they picked up on one comment from one rather dubious source. I have something to say about what happens when you link a criminal, especially a mass murderer, with an entire subculture of people he or she has absolutely nothing to do with. How it not only doesn't help to answer the question "why?", it actually causes more hurt, more harm.
Just now we are getting to know the people behind the numbers. Twenty-six dead, but who are they? The stories of immense courage are coming out, teachers running toward the sound of gunshots, some shielding children with their bodies. I don't know if anything can make this worse, but that this happened at a time of year that fills that age of innocence with such excitement and wonder just adds another level of heartbreak.
The events in Newtown sparked a lot of discussion on gun control and the media's representation of children following violent events. However, as is the case with most well-covered human tragedies, mental health discourse was decidedly missing from the reporting. "Evil visited this community today," the Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy said following the shooting. Such words are not uncommon following acts of violence, but their prominence still made me cringe. I have to ask, whose "evil" are we talking about when we classify this tragedy as such?