Aurora and Goliad

I was asked a question this morning: “I know why the story out of Aurora was wall-to-wall news on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It was — still is — horrifying. But why is this story out of Goliad, Texas, worth hardly a mention?”

The story — all of three paragraphs in the paper — starts this way: “Fourteen illegal immigrants were killed Sunday outside this rural South Texas town after the pickup truck they were riding in veered off a highway and struck two trees, authorities said.”

I didn’t answer the question very well. I mentioned that Aurora was planned and purposeful where Goliad was, presumably, accidental. I said something about people everywhere being able to identify with the Aurora killings because they can see themselves in a movie theater. Can they see themselves in the back of a pickup with 22 other people? Probably not.

But I don’t think I got it exactly right. Twelve dead; 14 dead. All of the victims doing nothing that should have gotten them killed. One predominantly white people, one illegal immigrants. One a Denver suburb, one a town in the middle of nowhere. One guns, one an overloaded pickup.

All innocent human beings.

Give me a better response to the question.

5 thoughts on “Aurora and Goliad

  1. Actually, I think you got it right John. Don’t think there’s a comparison between an auto accident and a deliberate mass murder.

    Thousands of people die every day in car accidents. This truck accident was big and tragic, but not really national newsworthy. Gratefully, mass murders aren’t so common. However, I’d add I’m not at all comfortable with the way the media essentially makes a celebrity out of the shooter. Already seeing copy cats looking for the same level of attention.

  2. Suppose that instead of a truck full of illegal immigrants, it had been a school bus and 14 children had died. What do you suppose the reaction would have been then? Less than to Aurora, certainly, but probably also considerably more than this truck accident. And why might that be?

  3. There’s an episode of The West Wing when fictional President Bartlett (situation: if the US should intervene in an African situation where a lot of people were murdered and more will be), asks his speechwriter a rhetorical question something along the lines of, “Do American bodies count for more?” and the speechwriter answers something like, “I don’t know, Mr. President, but they do.”

    I thought of that when I read about the dozen or more dead “illegal” immigrants. I don’t think there’s a question that to Americans, dead Americans mean more and “people like us” in Colorado are easier to relate to than non-citizens in Texas who aren’t “like us.” I do not think this is car accident v intentional mass murder; it’s Americans v. non-Americans and how we value people.

    Sometime I’ll tell you what my doctor friend said about how Chinese citizens are able to deal with mass casualties (like earthquakes) much easier than Americans do.

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