I heard the reports that there was a gunman on an elementary school campus in Connecticut Friday morning around 8:30, right when I got into work to start Twittering and Facebooking for my clients. At that time the Tweets weren't saying there were any deaths, so I kept scrolling, looking for something relevant to post or retweet.
Had I clicked on any of the links in those tweets I might have learned far earlier what happened. It wasn't until after 11am Pacific time when a coworker asked if we'd heard about the 27 dead in the school shooting.
Twenty seven. Dead. Most of them children.
Throughout the day I paid close attention to Twitter, waiting to see the latest as the story unfolded. My office was quiet for a long time - like the rest of the country we were shocked, horrified and saddened that such a thing would happen to 6 and 7 year old kids. The shooter was barely an adult himself at just 20. Why would he target classrooms of little kids?
There was the range of typical emotions I felt on Friday (anger, frustration, sadness, shock), but one I did not feel was surprise. When I saw that first tweet my thought was just another school shooting. I hoped no one was injured, and assumed that if anyone was it would be just 1 or 2 people, like what had happened just two goddamned days earlier in Oregon. The point was this had happened so many times just in the last 6 months that I very nearly brushed it off completely. It seems like there's always someone with a gun going crazy and not caring if they die. For a long time, Columbine was a word everyone knew. Then so was Virginia Tech. These places were where innocent kids (and young adults) died because a crazy classmate wanted to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. Now I'm honestly having a hard time remembering the names of the schools and towns where massacres took place over the last two years. This year was that place in Arizona where the state representative was shot in the head but survived, there was the midnight movie theatre shooting in Aurora, Colorado, a few people killed in a mall in Oregon, and now there's Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, a place I'm sure to forget after the next few mass shootings.
There's not enough time in between shootings now to really commemorate each location. We all knew Columbine and Virginia Tech like we knew 9/11. There are kids alive right now who know nothing of what it was like before we killed each other on a regular basis and endured being killed by extremists. Taking off their shoes, being touched by strangers in an airport security line and being scanned for explosives is just how we fly planes now. I remember when the building in Oklahoma City was bombed: that was heavy news for a good week that caused my mom to cry for days. I remember feeling for the kids in that building, there only because one company provided daycare for its employees, and wondering why that man would do such a thing. Now a school shooting (as horrible as an elementary school massacre is) is just one more tragedy.*
A second thought: there was a lot of misinformation reported on Friday. Other than me thinking no one had died, it was reported that the shooter was targeting his mother, a teacher at Sandy Hook, and her classroom. It was also reported that the shooter's dad's body was found at his house later in the afternoon. It was also reported that there were two shooters, brothers, and one had escaped to the woods nearby. All of these things (and possibly more things) are false. There was one shooter, and his father is still alive. His mother, not a teacher at that school, was found shot to death in her bed in the home she shared with the shooter (it was her guns the shooter stole and used). The shooter acted entirely alone, and his brother was unfairly arrested and questioned. The Huffington Post also had to edit a report that "misidentified" a Facebook profile as that of the shooter (major oops).
What's with journalists? Are they so excited to be the first to report something that they won't check to make sure it's correct? Does accuracy not matter anymore? Just because one cop or paramedic makes a remark or comments on something does not mean it's true. Plus, the reporters were going around to the surviving 7 year olds and asking them what they heard, what they felt, and how they got out alive. Fucking 7 year old little kids are being interviewed and asked what it was like to survive one of the worst school shootings in the country's history. I wonder how that's going to make them feel when they're old enough to understand what happened. Reporters should have laid off the kids. Talk to adults in the school, or parents after they found out their kids were safe... but leave the traumatized kids alone.
*Aside: Up until the first week of November of this year the there was a lot of debate between the presidential candidates, their VPs, and various other congress members and senators about who will keep us safer from extremists who hate our way of life and want Americans dead. Maybe it's time to focus less on outside forces and more on those within our ranks who want us dead (or at least some of us).