Three Discernible Truths Learned from the Capital Gazette Shooting
Often in the wake of a tragedy, the national dialogue scurries about looking for a narrative on which to attach itself. It is neither a partisan issue or a political issue, but rather an issue involving human nature itself. We often like narratives that make us comfortable and when the world seems chaotic and unreasonable we seek a narrative to reassure us. For many, this shooting is about Donald Trump’s rhetoric with the press. Then again, for others this is about the prevalence of guns in America. Champions of journalism would take this incident and remind us all that journalism is now and always has been an inherently dangerous business. However, if our minds will allow us we can seek truth over narrative. America can walk away from this inexplicable tragedy having learned together rather than having been divided.
It is a Human Tragedy
As soon as one views this as a narrative, they will quickly sprint towards their respective camp and huddle with those of similar mind. Sadly, if they didn’t scurry away so quickly they might realize that all citizens view this as a human tragedy. Personally, I’ve walked the streets of Iraq as a Marine and I can testify firsthand what it is like for your daily job to take place in a warzone. We simply don’t expect that in the United States of America and while I am a huge proponent of readiness, I don’t think we should expect that.
There is a certain quality of life that is lost when one views life through the lens of combat. Certainly there is clarity of purpose, but when you gain a piece of humanity like that you often lose one too. Very few people in the United States of America should expect their workplaces to become a warzone. That the Capital Gazette became one is a human tragedy. Before we all run to our respective narratives, we can acknowledge this together. Husbands and wives said goodbye to each other that morning without the realization that is was goodbye. Children lost a parent and elder parents had to experience the terrible trauma of outliving their children. This was a human tragedy, end of story.
The Gun Narrative has a Problem
Pardon me for jumping from building a bond of unity and then jumping the shark to one of the most divisive issues of our day, but there is a universal problem here. The weapon used in this attack was a shotgun. It is one of the lowest tech and basic firearms in the industry. Even in the wake of recent tragic mass shootings, there isn’t a bill being considered or a large population advocating for the ban of the shotgun. Even with Maryland’s strict gun laws, the pump action shotgun was free and clear.
Gun control enthusiasts would laud this fact as a reason go further. Yet, in a nation where AR style rifles are commonplace there is virtually no support for going that far. Gun rights enthusiasts would point out that gun control is a sham as not even a state with strict rights like Maryland can prevent 5 people from dying at the hands of one of the most basic and commonly owned firearms. Americans on both sides of the issue have a problem. Namely that human nature does not fit into our nice and neat partisan narratives.
Journalism Has Always Been Dangerous
Finally, let’s come to terms with the historical truth that journalism has always been dangerous. So it was again for the staff of the Capital Gazette. Americans might not be used to it, but our history is still riddled with those who write truth to power suffering the backlash. Whether that was governmental power or simply a deranged man with a shotgun. If one looks at journalism as a global industry one truly gets the nature of its danger.
In Russia, journalists are killed or beaten with remarkable frequency. Just over a month ago, a Russian journalist in the Ukraine had to fake his own assassination to catch those trying to kill him. When tyrants rise to power they seek to control the information. This is often a deadly prospect for those who deliver information.
In conclusion, I submit to you that journalism has always been inherently dangerous. As a result, we should tip our hats to the fallen in this tragedy for doing a duty necessary to this nation. Next, we should acknowledge that the gun narrative is complicated and not every shooting fits the desired narrative. Finally, we can at least all agree this is a human tragedy. There is plenty of time to run to our respective camps tomorrow. For today, let’s just acknowledge this as fellow citizens.