Occasionally our mass media tries to put a headline crime in context. They usually succeed only in displaying grotesque laziness and historical illiteracy.
The tragedy at Virginia Tech was not even close! to being "the worst massacre in US history" or the "worst shooting massacre in US history" -- and to call it such is to put on public display your utter and complete ignorance.
"Worst massacre?" Have you forgotten 9/11 already? Oklahoma City? What about the multiple massacres of Native Americans? Take your pick. Ever hear of Wounded Knee? What about the Mountain Meadows Massacre?
Nor was it even the worst "school massacre" or "campus massacre" in the United States. This was. You'd think our media would've figured this out when they erroneously labeled Columbine the "worst school massacre in US history."
Are they so hyped up on sensationalism that their memory fails them? Or do they just not give a good goddamn?
It is truly regrettable for so many reasons. The public is left to think that mass murders are now an "epidemic," that our society has somehow worsened over time, and that our laws have to be changed to respond to new threats. Without an accurate historical context, it's easy to come to the wrong conclusions.
Thank God the only copycats to surface so far are our nation's lazy, stupid journalists.
The following are new members of the Clews Hall of Shame! Shame! Shame! This list would be even longer, but I'll give media outside the US a pass on this one. Each of these media outlets screwed up (though there's always the faint hope that, by the time you click on these links, some might have corrected themselves) --
- MSNBC - "the worst school massacre in US history"
- ABC - George Stephanopoulos: "The worst campus massacre before Virginia Tech was back in the University of Texas in 1966."
- Newsweek - "worst massacre in U.S. history"
- Time - "the worst massacre in US history"
- Baltimore Sun - "the worst school massacre in US history"
- Los Angeles Times - "the worst school massacre in history"
- Court TV Crime Library ("the worst mass murder in American history," indeed! This is a particularly egregious and unforgivable error on a website that purports to offer encyclopedic treatment of historic crimes, including articles on the Bath massacre and Mountain Meadows.)
- New Jersey Star-Ledger - "America's worst campus massacre"
- Atlanta Journal-Constitution - "worst campus massacre in US history"
- New York Daily News - "the worst campus massacre in American history"
- Troy Record - "the nation's worst massacre"
- WorldNetDaily - "America's worst school massacre"
- Campus Times - "worst school massacre in United States history"
- Shreveport Times - "worst massacre in American history"
- Asheville Citizen-Times "The worst massacre in U.S. history"
- Janesville Gazette - "the worst massacre in US history"
- Roanoke Times - "worst school massacre in US history"
- Daily Titan - "worst massacre in US history"
- Bakersfield Californian - "the worst massacre in the country's history."