The Dynamics of a Tragedy

With one shot, he was an assailant. With the next, a killer. By the time he was finished, Cookie was a mass murderer.

A man named Cookie walked into city hall the other day. It was in a nice, upscale, liberal part of town. Big, old oak trees line the streets, kids ride their bikes.

It’s safe.

So safe, there aren’t any metal detectors on the premises. So Cookie walked right into city hall, and set off no alarms. Then he went to the town meeting, pulled out his gun and started shooting.

With one shot, he was an assailant. With the next, a killer. By the time he was finished, Cookie was a mass murderer.

It was a horrible tragedy.

Death never sits well with me, I admit it. Bambi’s mom, Old Yeller, all the roadside bombing victims I hear about on the news…not a fan of the whole death thing.

But something else bothers me about the city hall murders.

There’s been a weird air about it in the media. They all report about how terrible it is, but I could swear they’re trying to fight a devilish grin from creeping out.

All the papers, all the news channels; it seemed as if they were almost giddy about being at ground zero for such a huge, dramatic event.

Within an hour of the initial report they had interviewed everyone about it.

They talked to someone who wasn’t at the shooting, nor had any information about said shooting, but was in the hospital when the shooting victims were brought in. She relished her time in front of the camera, dropping names of important people she was friends with…doing her best to appear solemn…She had nothing useful or informative to say, but she was the closest they could get at the time, so…

Another channel interviewed a hairdresser. Her salon is in the same part of town. She was giving someone a perm and a highlight when it all happened. She saw nothing but again, relished her opportunity to waste some of Warhol’s alloted 15 minutes of fame.

Journalists were having a field day digging for a back story and dusting off their thesaurus for as many synonyms for the word “tragedy” they could find.

Waterloo, adversity, affliction, bad fortune, bad luck, blight, blow, blue ruin, bummer, calamity, cataclysm, catastrophe, contretemps, curse, curtains, dole, doom, downer, failure, hard knocks, hardship, humiliation, lot, misadventure, mischance, misfortune, mishap, shock, struggle, the worst, unluckiness, woe, wreck, disaster, rotten break, bad break, devil’s own luck, hard cheese, hard luck, ill luck, raw deal, rotten luck, setback, tough break, tough luck, tragedy, catastrophe, affliction, balk, bombshell, casualty, chagrin, comedown, debacle, disappointment, disgruntlement, frustration, jolt, letdown, mishap, tragedy, debacle, deluge, disaster, disturbance, double trouble*, flood, flooding, holy mess, inundation, torrent, unholy mess

The news channels were all recording their voice overs, proclaiming they were the first to report this debacle of blue ruin– before even reporting anything.

These poor journalists have been living in the shadows of other city’s deluges of calamity, just waiting for their moment to shine.

In your face, Columbine.

No other news occurred for days on end. No murders, arrests or car accidents. The Great Highway Shut Down was yesterday’s news, and nothing heartwarming was happening anywhere. Just the contretemps of the City Hall event.

When it first happened, there was nothing to report, but they reported it all night long.

Then they did their digging; reported on how this had been building up for years and years. They commenced in reporting this same fact over and over, day after day. It was the same information in reformatted sentences.

Our city’s media reacted like an ignored middle child, just looking for a little attention, no matter how it was achieved.

But then again, they pretty much grind every “story” into dust.

It’s like they’re incapable of self restraint; like that uncle that everyone has who always has about six Gin & Tonics too many at Christmas dinner while the rest of the family shakes their heads, and quietly waits for him to run out of steam and go to bed.

I’m not heartless. I feel for the victims and their families.

I know what happened is horrible. A real inundation of utter dole.

But.

I know everything I need to know about it. I know why the gunman snapped, I know who was shot and how many were dead when the smoke cleared.

So enough already. Let’s put this drunk uncle to bed.

At least I have cable, I can always change the channel and watch a Wonder Years repeat.

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