Media in the Wake of Tragedy

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Currently we are living in a country who is obsessed with the news. This comes from the needless sensationalism created by 24 hour news stations who must trump up stories in order to fight the competing outlets for ratings. One of the stories that has been garnering a rather large portion of the news day is the unfortunate and tragic story about Dylann Roof and his personal agenda to begin a second Civil War by murdering nine people in a black church in Charleston, S.C. This event has been lambasted by all members of the media, as well as being described by the city’s mayor, Joseph P. Riley, Jr., as an act of, “Pure, pure concentrated evil.” Dylann was a single individual who planned and carried out this while taking a psychiatric drug called Suboxone, which was intended but failed, one could surmise, to keep him sane (edit: Dylann was not prescribed this drug, but instead was taking it recreationally).

During the media frenzy following this terrible crime newscasters debated whether it was Dylann’s obvious mental health problems that caused him to commit this act, or whether the entire act was a race related problem which would have occurred without the presence of suboxone in his system. This caused a surge on social media with people calling newscasters racist because an act of the same magnitude committed by a black man would have earned him the moniker of “thug,” while any of these acts being carried out by a Caucasian man gets attributed to mental health problems and cries for better care and treatment for mentally ill people in the country. Anyone who even slightly agreed with a newscaster saying the deteriorated mental health of the shooter was the cause of his decision was accused of being a racist who wouldn’t stick up for the shooter had he been a minority. Anyone who said he was just a racist piece of sh!t was put down for not having a doctorate-like understanding of mental disorders or understanding of how psychotropic drugs can negatively affect a person’s mental state by people who, more than likely, aren’t doctors themselves. Other people argue the event was a planned event meant to act as a “false flag,” intended to hide another atrocity from the eyes of the American people, or to bring up the need for more regulation. This exploitation angers me in a way I will not express here due to the fact I have already used my self-allotted one cuss word per article.

These arguments do not help ease the pain of those bereaving. Pushing one, while insulting and demeaning those who believe the other only angers people into wanting to commit equally heinous acts. This is not what the people who have been affected by this tragedy would want. The survivors of this event had the opportunity to look the shooter in the face and tell him what they thought of him. Given the opportunity in front of a judge and the media to say anything to the attacker they told Dylann they forgave him, and would be praying for him. This was an act of people who aren’t worried about whether racism or mental health was the reason for his actions. This was an act committed by people who are honoring and respecting their fallen friends. An act of those honoring the deceased by not adding to the media circus, but instead attempting to find their own sense of closure and meaning in the wake of their sorrow.

What happened in Charleston, SC is a tragedy and should be viewed as such by the media. Searching for reasoning in why this horrendous crime was committed is equivalent to trying to look for the reason behind S.I.D.S. They are both travesties that must be dealt with mentally and emotionally by the friends and family of the deceased. It is not a media event that needs to be dissected and analyzed to the point of no longer caring by the viewers in order to procure more ratings from people who spend most of their days in front of the television believing whatever CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News tells them to believe. The fact of the matter is, Dylann Roof is probably a misguided racist person with terrible mental health problems. There is no way for anyone to know if the drug he was taking was the cause of this tragedy, or if he was just a racist who was willing to murder people because he just didn’t like black people. Newscasters will debate these issues until they have lost viewers and need to find a different media story to sensationalize. What we need to do, as a country, is to not argue over whether racism or mental health issues are the national issue here, but realize that one mentally sick racist murdered a group of people because they were black and remember those who were affected by this tragedy caused by the poor decisions of one man, who we cannot allow the media to turn into a poster boy of any group of people.

Instead we have to understand that sometimes in life tragedies happen. There is no reason behind them. Instead of insisting people are racist, or ignorant, or both we need to be thankful we still have our friends and family, and keep those who have recently lost theirs in our thoughts or prayers.


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