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Misdiagnosing a Tragedy

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Photo courtesy of Bilal Kamoon/Flickr

Months after the theater seats have been cleaned and James Holmes has finished his court hearings, the public will still be trying to figure out what could have sparked the horrifying tragedy that struck Aurora, Colorado.

While you search for answers, please keep in mind that the media and politicians are not clinical psychologists. Both of the most vocal groups involved with the slayings have agendas that often run contrary to finding the facts.

Take the statement by ABC’s Brian Ross for example:
Ross has already taken back his statement and the point here is not to call Ross out for his investigative journalism, but simply to point out that investigators into these types of tragedies often find what they go looking for . . . even if it’s not true.

Reporter Dave Cullen, who investigated the Columbine shootings for over ten years, has a great article on how the media often misdiagnose tragedies. In”Don’t Jump to Conclusions About the Killer,” Holmes points out a series of missteps that the media made in diagnosing the Columbine shooters. Years of research show the two murderers to be much more “complex” than the angry boys that the media created all those years ago.

Likewise, politicians will undoubtedly find themselves using the massacre to further there political ideology. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg has already made the argument that the Aurora shootings are a good reason to enforce stricter gun laws.

In mere weeks we can expect to see the president arrive to give his condolences, meanwhile Romney will not go to Aurora because doing so would look like political opportunism. The whole situation is disgusting, but we have to deal with it. Politicians and the media (like myself, of course) will continue to struggle with this tragedy in the public’s eye. Just be sure to take what we say with a grain of salt.

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