Monday, 28 July 2008


I can't believe how upset I am to find out that the shooting in a Tennessee church yesterday took place during a Unitarian Universalist meeting. (My three regular readers will know that I'm a UU too.) Some 25 kids were performing Annie to a 200-strong audience when a gunman opened fire.

I caught something about a shooting on the news, last night or early this morning before work, I wasn't paying attention. Now the full impact has hit me. And I wonder why. I have always argued strongly against the "Local Man Drowns"-mentality (supposed newspaper coverage of the sinking of the Titanic, whether a urban myth or not it's an apt description) and for keeping in mind the equal value of the lives of those we don't know or feel immediately connected to.

There's an expression in Dutch called "ver-van-m'n-bed", meaning "far away from my bed", the further away something happens, the more tragic it needs to be to make the news. Unless there is some other connection, such as religion or cultural ties - and this is a rough guess - I would say that in terms of newsworthiness the life of one Dutchman equals five Europeans, twenty North-Americans or white colonials (Australia, South Africa) and over a hundred non-whites. And it's the same everywhere.

Today the police announced that the shooting was motivated by hatred.
"It appears that what brought him to this horrible event was his lack of being able to obtain a job, his frustration over that, and his stated hatred for the liberal movement," Chief Owen said of the suspect, Jim D. Adkisson, 58.

Members of the church tackled the gunman and wrested his weapon, a 12-gauge shotgun, from him. Witnesses say that Gregory McKendry Jr., 60, a church board member and usher, the man who died on the scene protected others from the shots with his own body.

The local newspaper reports that Adkisson's ex-wife used to be a member of the congregation.

Sorry for an even less structured blog than normal.

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