Two Mass Shootings, Two Media Narratives

(photo: Register Files)

It's a remarkable case study to compare the tragic shootings in Colorado Springs a week ago and this week's San Bernardino attack. We don't yet know the full motives of the shooters in either case. And yet, with the Robert Dear incident, there was, and remains, an assumption in the popular, professional and social media that he was a pro-life Christian who acted violently against Planned Parenthood because of his views. By default, that seems to make him a representative of all Christians, perhaps even all pro-life people. And there's been an ongoing debate about how so-called "right wing rhetoric" led Dear to commit the atrocity. By implication, all who speak against abortion are culpable. 

In contrast, we apparently have a Muslim husband-and-wife who attacked and killed 14 people, wounding 21 others, with tactical weapons while wearing tactical gear. Without any hearsay—just the facts—one could more readily speculate about the intentions of the murderous couple more than anyone could with Dear. But the media were tripping all over themselves to do with this Muslim couple what they should always do: report the facts and give the benefit of the doubt in lieu of any facts. Meanwhile, I didn't hear any of them complaining about the poisonous rhetoric that may have led this couple to do what they did.

We can speculate all we want, but let's not confuse our speculation with the facts. And we should remember that our speculation often showcases our prejudices more than anything else.