Archive for April, 2004

massacres | culture

I don’t think I have anything cogent to say about yesterday’s shootings at Virginia Tech yet.

But something about the reporting of the massacre was bothering me, so I started browsing the innerweb to see whether my suspicisions were correct. And the way the innerwebs work, I bumped into some other ideas along the way.

A. Most massacres are named after the place where they occured.

B. If a mass murderer’s ethnicity is white, the press doesn’t mention ethnicity. But if the mass murderer is non-white, his ethnicty, and the ethnicity of his non-white victims, are included in the media report.

C. Mass murderers are almost never female.

D. Every massacre is rated as the “worst since…” or is ranked as the “second worst” and so on.

E. Both sides of the gun-control argument use gun-based massacres to try to make their points.

A. The only mass murder I can think of that’s not place-named is the terrorist attacks of September 11. I don’t know if that’s because there were multiple locations or whether the emergency number “911″ was so easy to say.

B. Of course the ethnicity of the September 11 murderers was a major part of the news story, so I am not saying that our news media are somehow racist by including that as part of the story. And I’m not implying that there’s something wrong with a news report that read “Dylan Kliebold, a white student from Columbine High School…”. But you may have noticed a white bias in our culture. The way we talk about criminals just shows the way we think. We tend to notice when someone doesn’t look like us. If I get in a hit by a car as I bike home tonight, you won’t ask me the driver’s ethnicity. But, if I get run down and seriously injured by someone who doesn’t have the same skin color as me, the report in the news (I’m so vain to think my injury is newsworthy, aren’t I? ha ha) will most likely mention the driver’s ethnicity.

C. I can’t think of a single mass murderer who was female. I know there were women serial killers, but I think they did all their killings one-at-a-time.

D. Perhaps it is something they teach in journalism, you know, being thorough about your reporting and all, but sometimes I find it annoying to have these kinds of news events rated against each other.

E. Lastly, you may already know where I stand on gun control, but I won’t bring it up now; the timing’s wrong, if you ask me.

to ride, or not to ride?

Another bicyclist was killed this week.

From the Buffalo News:

Bicyclist struck, killed on his way to job at store

A bicyclist riding to his job at a Cheektowaga convenience store was struck by a vehicle and killed Monday night on Losson Road, Cheektowaga police said Tuesday.
Aziz Khokhar, believed to be about 60 years old, was pronounced dead at the scene, at Losson Road and Rushford Lane, shortly after the accident, which was reported at 9:38 p.m.

Police said Khokhar was riding westbound on Losson Road when he was struck by a westbound vehicle driven by Cecelia Grzybek, 72, of Cheektowaga. She left the scene of the accident, but was brought back there by her son, police said.

Charges are pending against Grzybek for having left the scene, police said.

There have been two memorial rides so far in 2004 for bicyclists who were killed riding their bikes in Buffalo. Those of us who have been going on these memorial rides have said we will have a memorial ride every time a Buffalo bicyclist is killed while riding. But Aziz Khokhar was riding in Cheektowaga, one of the suburbs of Buffalo. So, do we hold a memorial ride or not?

The two people I’ve talked to about it so far say no, we need to concentrate our energy on Buffalo. Buffalo is a sprawling city, geographically speaking (covering more than 40 square miles). If we start doing memorial rides for all of Western New York, we’ll be commiting ourselves to some long rides.

I just wonder if that isn’t the right commitment to make. I’m still thinking about it.

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