Walker starts off his analysis with this strong lead:
News directors, reporters and highly paid pundits across the country are wrong. The murders in Aurora, Colorado were not and are not worthy of their focus and our national attention. Our species' interest in demons, in monsters, in the nameless, ghastly things lurking in the shadows is our lowest common denominator. Though that dark fascination exists in all of us, it is a beast that deserves to starve. Instead, we're feeding it daily and increasing its appetite. As a result, we think less of our neighbors and ourselves. And worse -- we expect less.
These assertions are followed by a series of questions: "Is anyone outside Aurora, Colorado better off for knowing about these murders? Did Holmes' outrage illuminate a pattern of repeated, predictable behavior that needs to be addressed before it becomes epidemic? Will the wounds of the victims and their families heal faster because their plights are broadcast nationally? Do the American people benefit by looking into the eyes of the broken-hearted or into the eyes of the maniac who broke their hearts?"
His answer: "Of course not."
This sort of reaction is totally understandable. For those of us living in the metro area, the shocking deaths of twelve people who are essentially our neighbors, and the struggles of dozens more who are dealing with terrible physical and psychological wounds, aren't abstract in the slightest. They're very personal. But if this had happened elsewhere, there's a very good chance many of us would feel inundated and oppressed after six days' worth of reports on the subject.
Indeed, many locals are reacting likewise, if only because concentrating on topics that are alternately sad, frustrating and frightening over such a long stretch can seem suffocating.
Walker's conclusion is more controversial, however. It reads:
On Friday, July 20, 2012, someone discovered something. Someone broke a record. Someone caught a really big fish. Someone was named an Eagle Scout. Someone died for a worthy cause. Someone was reunited with a family member after years apart. And someone murdered 12 people in a movie theater. Why would we collectively choose to focus on this last someone?
Turns out I'm the father of an Eagle Scout, and the hard work and energy my now-adult son poured into achieving this honor a number of years ago were certainly deserving of more attention. But to equate a mass slaying to this accomplishment, or catching a really big fish, undermines Walker's otherwise interesting argument.
The horrific events that took place at the Aurora Century 16 last Friday are newsworthy nationally as well as locally, even though we might wish otherwise. As such, each person must decide for himself how much is enough -- or too much.
Update, 11:33 a.m. July 26: A short time ago, Yates Walker sent us a note responding to this post. Here's what he had to say.
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I think I made my points clearly in the article, but I wanted to follow up anyway. I think the coverage of monsters like James Holmes, Casey Anthony and Drew Peterson are bad for American culture. Our culture has grown less neighborly during my life, and I think it's partly due to the fact that 24 hour news stations fill their hours with content that scares the daylights out of everyone.
My article was intended to chide news outlets while reminding Americans that James Holmes and his ilk are rarities. Also, as a Christian, I believe that darkness is constantly tapping at our shoulder. Sometimes it aims to elicit a strong response from us, but the darkness is also there to discourage us and keep us complacent. News networks aren't helping matters. They bathe themselves in stories like Holmes because it's easy and it eats up a lot of hours that would otherwise be spent doing research and the stuff that, you know, journalists might do.
Obviously, I feel the a great deal of sympathy for Aurora's victims, but I do believe that, in a better world, the story wouldn't go national because people realize that the story's gruesome appeal is far outweighed by the damage it would do coarsening our culture.
Congratulations on your Eagle Scout son. That's quite an achievement.
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