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Why isn't New Orleans Mother's Day parade shooting a 'national tragedy'?
May 16, 2013 2:24 PM   Subscribe

19 people were shot at a New Orleans parade on Mother's Day, including 2 children. 3 are still in critical condition. David Dennis asks: "So why am I allowed to go outside? Where's the city quarantine or FBI and Homeland Security presence for this act of 'terrorism'?"

"Now take a moment and imagine a Mother's Day Parade in the suburbs of Denver, a neighborhood in Edina or a plaza in Austin where bullets rain down on civilians and even hit children. I can't help but imagine the around-the-clock news coverage."

Two suspects have been arrested.
posted by Starmie (97 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite

 
These frequent acts of mass violence are starting to make this country feel reminiscent of some 3rd-world failed state.
posted by crayz at 2:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [48 favorites]


*cough*poorblackvictims*cough*
posted by klangklangston at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2013 [64 favorites]


Well, is "because the victims are black and working class" too obvious an answer? Because I'm pretty sure that's the answer. When black people are the victims of a massacre, it's just more "gang violence". Those people do those kinds of things, you know.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [25 favorites]


Also, bombing plays less into the "just world" fallacy — people feel like they could have avoided these shootings, especially since the suspects were doing them less as Terrorism writ large (a lot of it is about terrorizing witnesses) and more as drug-related crime. Other+Just World=Dog bites man.
posted by klangklangston at 2:36 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Because it couldn't happen to me.
posted by rocket88 at 2:37 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Why did we ignore New Orleans but obsess about Boston?
What Constitutes An Act Of Terror?

Actually, the suspect and five others are in custody.

So why ignored? Bombs going off in America is rare and unusual. People getting shot in America? Just another day.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that there is also a strong East Coast Bias going on here as well. I am always astounded at how the national press jumps all over everything that happens in New York, Boston, Washington D.C. as if that's the only place people live.

Right after the Boston marathon Bombing there was a factory that blew up in Texas and killed many more people and got maybe 1/100th of the coverage.
posted by trojanhorse at 2:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [32 favorites]


related-ish on my own outrage-filter 17 Pipe Bombs Found In Palms Apartment:

"Robert Wilson, 29, was booked on felony possession of a destructive device, police Sgt. Rudy Lopez said. Authorities said there were no signs he planned to use the devices. They believe he acted alone and had no apparent link to terrorism."

For real? If he was either darker or had a different name, he'd be getting bombed up his own pipe by the Army.

What's the deal with this level of racial double-standards?
posted by raihan_ at 2:40 PM on May 16, 2013 [21 favorites]


the man of twists and turns: "So why ignored? Bombs going off in America is rare and unusual. People getting shot in America? Just another day."

Though usually 19 people don't get shot in one incident. I don't watch a lot of the local news, but when I do, there's usually some sort of gun violence discussed. It's rare for more than maybe three people to have been shot in one incident.
posted by hoyland at 2:41 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


But it's true that the motive of the shootings was gang-related. That doesn't make it acceptable, but there's a substantive difference between that kind of killing and the Boston bombings or even Columbine.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 2:42 PM on May 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Five people were shot while waiting for a bus in East Palo Alto, but the thing that makes me nervous are the stories of petty muggings in my own neighbourhoods where I can imagine myself being out and about. The other side of the freeway is enough to make me feel completely disconnected from the violence over there.
posted by Space Coyote at 2:42 PM on May 16, 2013


This is just typical, run-of-the-mill gun violence...we're used to it.
posted by littlejohnnyjewel at 2:44 PM on May 16, 2013


These frequent acts of mass violence are starting to make this country feel reminiscent of some 3rd-world failed state.

3rd world violence is usually comprehensibly political. People die in large numbers in Iraq because the Shiites hate the Sunnis, and the Sunnis hate the Shiites, and everybody hates the Kurds. (Thanks USA) The violence makes an evil sort of sense. Frighten the other demographic's civilians enough and they'll emigrate, and now you own the neighborhood.

I don't understand these frequent American mass shootings. Access to guns is a factor, but not the only factor. Ill treated mental health explains little, for other countries are comparably bad at caring for the mentally ill. What is it about American culture that makes spree killing seem like a good idea?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 2:45 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Answer: 'Merica!

From our youth we are taught that we are the greatest country in the world, perhaps that is one of the many reasons why.
posted by PipRuss at 2:50 PM on May 16, 2013


there's a substantive difference between that kind of killing and the Boston bombings or even Columbine.

I dont see the difference. What's the difference?
posted by GuyZero at 2:51 PM on May 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Despite Dennis's faux-naivete, I think it's fairly obvious why the Mother's Day secondline shootings weren't treated with an Aurora-theater-massacre-style news blitz: because on some level people getting shot in New Orleans isn't really news — it happens all the time, though obviously not usually at this scale. The city's murder rate is off the charts and the gun-violence rate in general is worse than most of the developed world. If Dennis is trying to imply that media should be reporting the whole ongoing murder epidemic in New Orleans as a "national tragedy," then I totally agree with him, but there are tons of clear reasons why this single (still horrifying) incident doesn't qualify as the kind of breaking story that feeds a media frenzy. Race and class are on that list, of course; but so are other, even more pervasive media storyline biases — like the disproportionate reporting of exceptional, surprising, shocking stories rather than ongoing trends. In this respect the Boston bombings or the Aurora theater massacre, from the mass media's perspective, are single-incident stories like an earthquake or a hurricane, while the story of violence in New Orleans is more like climate change, an ongoing systemic problem that is underreported because it no longer seems sufficiently surprising. Obviously this is still pretty inexcusable, but it's a more complicated kind of bias than the simple, straightforward, exclusively regional/racist bias Dennis seems to be claiming.
posted by RogerB at 2:51 PM on May 16, 2013 [22 favorites]


Also, the Boston Marathon is a much more high-profile event than a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans, and the exploding bombs were caught on video.
posted by Longtime Listener at 2:53 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


For the same reason that a young, middle class white woman involved in either side of a murder case, anywhere in the country, is constantly on the news and is supposedly fascinating.
posted by bongo_x at 2:55 PM on May 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


Sure, the Boston Marathon is more high-profile than a Mother's Day parade, but a Mother's Day parade is at least as interesting as a Batman movie opening in Colorado.
posted by feets at 2:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


It seems like this had a reasonable level of media coverage. I saw the news articles when it happened, and I saw the news articles when they caught the shooter, so it wasn't ignored by the media. It wasn't quite as covered as previous mass shootings, but it also wasn't as severe - nobody is dead yet, and initial reports were that a lot of the injuries were grazes (I did not know anyone was critical until today). This was not nearly as severe as cases to which it is being compared, such as Boston, Newport, or Aurora.
posted by Mitrovarr at 2:57 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


But it's true that the motive of the shootings was gang-related. That doesn't make it acceptable, but there's a substantive difference between that kind of killing and the Boston bombings or even Columbine.

There were 18 people injured besides the intended target. No one deserves to be shot, but there were 18 people who the shooters just shot because [why not/ casualities of war/ wrong place, wrong time/ the shooters don't value life/ other].

According to the current tally on Wikipedia, the Boston Marathon Bombings killed 3 spectators and 264 people were injured enough to be treated in 27 local hospitals. At least 14 people required amputations as a result of the blasts.

The New Orleans Mothers Day shooting injuries were unintentional, which is also different from the chaos intended by Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:58 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


You know what I've noticed? Nobody panics when things go "according to plan." Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it's all "part of the plan".
posted by Mooski at 3:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


I dont see the difference. What's the difference?

Gang-related killings have a specific target, same as a Mafia hit. The bystanders are irrelevant to the shooter.

For terrorists and psychopaths, the bystanders are the whole point.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


This article belies the author's complete misunderstanding of criminality, police work, previous shootings in New Orleans, and the timeline of events in Boston.

The Boston attack was a premeditated, coordinated attack with two bombs. New Orleans had all the evidence of a spurious shooting -- a crime of passion if you will -- just like had happened with previous parades.

Boston wasn't locked down until after the shootout with police, which revealed the brothers still had multiple explosive devices designed for infiltration of public events and mass killing.

So, to the author, do your fucking homework before you wank your pud all over everybody.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:03 PM on May 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


The News Cycles were all tied up covering the three-headed scandal?

A Mother's Day parade doesn't have the came cachet as the Boston Marathon (a Fat Tuesday Massacre might get more attention)?

It didn't look like Islamic Terrorism from the get go?
posted by notyou at 3:04 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two things I read this week really rang a bell with me. The Charlie Pierce piece saying in essence, Maybe we’re just not that good a people. And a line in a novel about how angry everyone is.

We are a place full of angry, frustrated, poor people of all colors and more well-to-do but seemingly just as angry and frustrated mostly white people. A non-introspective, often hypocritical and soulless country that pays lip service to my-religion-is-better-than-yours religions while really worshipping the ethic of crass “stars” from the likes of rap and reality: “I’ve got mine, feck you.”

Where it’s easier to get a gun than [Fill in the blank].

That’ll be $1000. (What, I should enlighten you for free? I’m just as angry and frustrated as everybody else.)
posted by NorthernLite at 3:08 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Gang-related killings have a specific target, same as a Mafia hit. The bystanders are irrelevant to the shooter.
For terrorists and psychopaths, the bystanders are the whole point.


Who cares?

Assuming I'm a "bystander", I go out to a nice event (a marathon, a parade), I end up dead or injured. How exactly does it make a difference why I got shot?

Unless you're saying you're cool with being shot accidentally but not cool with being hit with bomb shrapnel. Which seems like an odd position.
posted by GuyZero at 3:18 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, so far only one tangentially related arrest in the West, Texas plant explosion.

Blowing up pressure cookers: very bad

Blowing up an entire fertilizer plant: not so bad we'd arrest anybody important
posted by GuyZero at 3:21 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'd like to strike my glib response above and note that while I thought a lot of the hand-wringing around the Boston Marathon Bombing was overwrought and not very useful, David Dennis is on to something with this paragraph:
Now take a moment and imagine a Mother's Day Parade in the suburbs of Denver, a neighborhood in Edina or a plaza in Austin where bullets rain down on civilians and even hit children. I can't help but imagine the around-the-clock news coverage. And I can't help but think it's because most of America can identify with the fear of being bombarded with gunfire while just enjoying a parade in the middle of town. But America can't identify with being at a parade in the "inner city" where "gang violence" erupts. The "oh my God, that could happen to me" factor isn't present with a story about New Orleans or the Chicago southside.
Because that was my reaction. More gang violence. Sad. Shrug.

It is not my responsibility to fix whatever it is that leads to gang shootings in NO and Chicago. The people who live there need to do that*. It is my responsibility to make sure that I am not indifferent to it.

------------------
*A media circus isn't going to do it.
posted by notyou at 3:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


How exactly does it make a difference why I got shot?

It matters to determining how we as a society could prevent what happened to you from happening again.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Gangs of New Orleans is an article from Time magazine written in 2006.

And the court system compounds the public's distrust. Criminal-court judges in New Orleans are significantly less likely than judges elsewhere to send people--even violent felons--to prison, according to a 2005 study by the city's Metropolitan Crime Commission. Of all the people arrested by the N.O.P.D. during a 12-month period from 2003 to 2004, only 7% were eventually sentenced to prison.

Often, violent-crime charges get dropped by the district attorney's office. The No. 1 reason, says Rafael Goyeneche, president of the commission, is that witnesses and victims who initially agree to cooperate eventually change their mind. They fear for their lives because they know most criminals arrested in New Orleans end up back on the street. In 2004, Keisha Robinson, 29, was gunned down in broad daylight in front of her house shortly after she had testified before a grand jury investigating her younger brother's killing. Police can't be sure why she was attacked, since they never arrested anyone for her murder. But it was perceived by many as a revenge killing. Two months before, Ryan Smith, a key witness in another murder case, was shot dead outside his workplace. Prosecutors, lacking witnesses, back away from all but the most solid cases. And a flaccid judicial system gets weaker still.

In other cases, the problem is the judges. Certain judges tend to set very low or no bail for defendants, especially in drug cases, the commission report concluded. "The vast majority of our judges are good men and women, thank God, who do a tough job. They're inundated with cases," says Goyeneche, a former prosecutor. "[But] a small percentage are doing a disservice to the community and putting people at risk. Corruption explains some of it, also burnout and just callousness."

So people stopped believing in the system. And into the void stepped young men who took matters into their own well-armed hands. Two gangs in particular--the Dooney Boys and 3 'n' G, both associated with poor neighborhoods in the city--were tearing up the streets in a nauseating, perpetual cycle of revenge.

posted by JujuB at 3:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, so far only one tangentially related arrest in the West, Texas plant explosion.

Blowing up pressure cookers: very bad

Blowing up an entire fertilizer plant: not so bad we'd arrest anybody important
posted by GuyZero at 5:21 PM on May 16


Or maybe it's because the West explosion was because of negligence or an accident and not because of criminal conduct? We don't arrest negligent people, except in certain circumstances.

Another way to re-frame it is that the perpetrators of the Boston bombing will not be sued, but those responsible for the exploding camp are in for serious lawsuits. That's because criminal law deals with criminal conduct, civil courts deal with negligent conduct.
posted by dios at 3:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Race is part of the equation, but it's not the only factor here, by a longshot. First of all, as has been said, there is a well-established association that people make between the words "bomb" and "terrorism". Terrorism grabs people's attention like nothing else; shootings and factory explosions aren't even in the running.

Second, nobody died! Yes, nineteen people getting hit by random gunfire is certainly a remarkable and tragic event, but I guarantee that this would have gotten a bit more traction if someone had actually died.

I think the racism comes into play mostly as people assume that this was a product of gang violence, which usually doesn't even make page three. On the other hand, that may be exactly what this turns out to be.

I think it's a big pointless to expect people to be rational about what stories they pay attention to. After all, even in America, you're more likely to die by slipping in the bathtub than being shot. But I don't see a whole lot of stories about that, either. Terrorism, or the trappings of terrorism, really grab attention, and that's not going to change. In fact, it's kind of the whole point of terrorism.
posted by Edgewise at 3:26 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


How exactly does it make a difference why I got shot?

So, there's no difference dying in an airplane that crashes because of engine failure and one that is flown into a building on purpose, just because you end up dead either way?
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 3:28 PM on May 16, 2013


The New Orleans Mothers Day shooting injuries were unintentional

I don't really understand the argument that the shooters did not intend to cause injuries when they started firing into a crowd of people. They may not have cared, but it was not unintentional or an accident.

It matters to determining how we as a society could prevent what happened to you from happening again.

And in the case of the Mother's Day shooting, we are doing that... how?

Or maybe it's because the West explosion was because of negligence or an accident and not because of criminal conduct?

AFAIK, we still have no idea what caused the initial fire in the West, TX factory. And yet, we still don't really seem to care all that much.

there's no difference dying in an airplane that crashes because of engine failure and one that is flown into a building on purpose, just because you end up dead either way?

When we're talking about media coverage and first responder response? Both are treated pretty equally.
posted by muddgirl at 3:32 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Second, nobody died! Yes, nineteen people getting hit by random gunfire is certainly a remarkable and tragic event, but I guarantee that this would have gotten a bit more traction if someone had actually died.

This is a really key point.
posted by Jahaza at 3:34 PM on May 16, 2013


Or maybe it's because the West explosion was because of negligence or an accident and not because of criminal conduct? We don't arrest negligent people, except in certain circumstances

Criminal negligence?
posted by empath at 3:38 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Two words: brown people.

Quick, who else died at the Boston bombing? A white kid, a cute white girl, and uh, um, ahh.... can't remember can you? Hint: a foreign national.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 3:40 PM on May 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


How exactly does it make a difference why I got shot?

There's a scale of tragedy, perhaps inverse to the (perceived) scale of complicity. Think about bystanders vs. victims of gang violence vs. soldiers dying in war.
posted by eugenen at 3:47 PM on May 16, 2013


yeah I wondered why there weren't a lot of Photoshop collages and "never forget" memes about the people killed at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, too.
posted by sweetkid at 3:47 PM on May 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Criminal negligence?
posted by empath at 5:38 PM on May 16


One, I noted "except in certain circumstances" which are set for the Texas Penal Code.

Two, criminal negligence is very different than ordinary negligence (a civil concept). Ordinary negligence is failing to do that which a person ordinary prudence would have done in the same or similar circumstances. Criminal negligence under the Texas Penal Code is when a person ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur such that the failure to perceive it constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that an ordinary person would exercise under all the circumstances as viewed from the actor's standpoint. The concepts are different.

Third, we don't know exactly the cause, but I haven't heard any claim that fit into any theory of criminal negligence. I actually am familiar with the theories because I know about the investigations into civil lawsuits in this case and have talked to the players involved. There are several potentially viable theories that do not raise a criminal negligence issue. The governmental investigators actually said today that they can't rule much out, though the most likely culprits are either a golf cart, electrical short, or potentially arson. Of course, they have no evidence of an arson (hence no arrest) but they can't rule it out. Based on what I have heard, I think the ultimate conclusion is going to be a defective product issue.
posted by dios at 3:50 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has to do with the motive. This appears to be related to gang fights, not random people targeted merely because they are there. My understanding is that he was aiming for someone.
posted by Ironmouth at 3:52 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it is a combination of callous victims were of "low interest" demographic and something that I've not seen much of a mention of, the suspects weren't muslim or potentially muslim.

I keep remember just after the Boston bomings, a LOT of people where wondering "is this terrorism", which is really just code for is this Muslims.

In order of how big the government response was:

Boston Bombings: Muslim aggressors, victims were "real americans" ... Shut down the whole city
Aurora theatre, Sandy Lake: White aggressors, victims were "real americans"... Big deal but quickly forgotten and often overlooked
New Orleans 2nd line: Black aggressors, low income victims:.... meh

If the 2nd line attack was "terrorism", that is a Muslim guy was involved, it would be all over the news and probably meet or exceed the attention rating of aurora or sandy lake
posted by mulligan at 3:54 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm pretty sure that there is also a strong East Coast Bias going on here as well. I am always astounded at how the national press jumps all over everything that happens in New York, Boston, Washington D.C. as if that's the only place people live.


Chicago sent detectives to assist Boston despite the high murder rate in the windy city. Last year only 26% of the murder cases were cleared meaning there are still about 350 cases open from 2012. Or assuming none of these were repeat murderers there are at least 350 murderers walking the streets of Chicago just from 2012 alone.
posted by srboisvert at 3:58 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Third, we don't know exactly the cause, but I haven't heard any claim that fit into any theory of criminal negligence. I actually am familiar with the theories because I know about the investigations into civil lawsuits in this case and have talked to the players involved. There are several potentially viable theories that do not raise a criminal negligence issue. The governmental investigators actually said today that they can't rule much out, though the most likely culprits are either a golf cart, electrical short, or potentially arson. Of course, they have no evidence of an arson (hence no arrest) but they can't rule it out. Based on what I have heard, I think the ultimate conclusion is going to be a defective product issue."

I thought there were also zoning and hazardous materials violations, where the owners had downplayed the explosive risk. But I'd figured that would probably be civil too, though I don't know Texas state law well enough to speculate.
posted by klangklangston at 3:59 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back in the 1980s I knew a med student who did her residency at Grady Memorial hospital in downtown Arlanta. She rotated with the trauma team and saw her share of gunshot victims. She was even shot at herself when a gangbanger followed the ambulance to the ER to finish what he started. This one was hardcore. She never left the patient. Well anyway she takes a fellowship at Charity hospital, New Orleans' version of Grady. I see her a few months later. She's shellshocked. Literally. "You know I am used to people shooting each other in Atlanta," she says, "but here they use machine guns."
posted by three blind mice at 4:10 PM on May 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


As far as I can tell the most important part of the panic in Boston was that nobody knew who did it or why. The unknown scares people as well as making for a good story.

Unlike the Boston situation, when the New Orleans police asked the witnesses if they knew who committed the crime about thirteen said "It was Akein Scott" and two more said "And here's his home address."

Given his arrest record law enforcement knew the guy and could make a reasonable judgement if a neighborhood lockdown was useful or not.

Last but not least, there was no evidence that Akein Scott was out to kill people. Quite the opposite really if he managed wound that many without killing anyone. So . . . recklessly stupid? Yes. Murderous? Not so much.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:11 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I accidentally engaged a wing nut gun fanatic in conversation recently, and when I mentioned the number of people shot annually, he replied that "You have to remember that [x] percent of that is black-on-black violence," since that skewed the statistics.

As if somehow, getting shot doesn't count if you and your assailant are both black. Excuse me wing nut guy, but black people deserve to not get shot as much as any other American. We all have the right to not get shot.
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:14 PM on May 16, 2013 [18 favorites]


when I mentioned the number of people shot annually, he replied that "You have to remember that [x] percent of that is black-on-black violence," since that skewed the statistics.


that's just unbelievable. It reminds me how some people say things like "well gang violence" like it doesn't matter if a gang member gets killed, when I read something recently about parts of Chicago being so gang controlled that you're born into a gang in some places just by where your house is.
posted by sweetkid at 4:25 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clearly, a wise terrorist faction should start buying a ton of legal guns and use those during an attack. It would not be labeled terrorism and, unlike other methods of terrorism, would not result in stupid new restrictive laws.

One moron tries to set his Nikes on fire? Everyone must remove their shoes to go through airport security. One moron murder a dozen or so children with a gun? Everyone must make sure guns are even more available.

Anyhow, on topic, I didn't even know this happened until I saw this very article linked on a friend's FB page. I'm fairly up to date with current events. This apparently didn't even warrent a significant headline on any of the sites I frequent. What the major hell?
posted by Joey Michaels at 4:27 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Joey Michaels: you must have looked away from the 24-hour news cycle for 24 hours.

It was a "top 3" headline for a day pretty well everywhere, and then it went.

I'm not one to ignore bias and I'm sure this is a good part of it - but no one was actually killed, and IIRC someone gets shot almost every year they run this parade... I did think it went by pretty fast but we've had a lot of much nastier ones (Sandy Hook was particularly bad) so people are a little burned out...)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:34 PM on May 16, 2013


If we let chunks of New Orleans get washed away in a hurricane, it seems questionable that we would be too interested in doing much there about any other sort of disaster.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:36 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Because nobody died. America has got so violent that there needs to be a large body count for people to take notice. There was a shooting at my university, Simon's Rock College of Bard, a few years ago. Two or three people died, and nobody remembers it.

My reaction, and that of a few of my friends, was the common "oh, America" sigh. What can you do? This won't be fixed until America fixes its gun laws, and that won't happen.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:38 PM on May 16, 2013


Gang-related killings have a specific target, same as a Mafia hit. The bystanders are irrelevant to the shooter.
For terrorists and psychopaths, the bystanders are the whole point.

Who cares?


I do. Again, in Australia there's still gang shootings and drive bys and such. But the chances that a person unconnected to organized crime or crime in general will be killed by gunfire are incredibly low, so its not really worth worrying about. Whenever there's a gun murder there's usually a very obvious motive.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 4:40 PM on May 16, 2013


"Now take a moment and imagine a Mother's Day Parade in the suburbs of Denver, a neighborhood in Edina or a plaza in Austin where bullets rain down on civilians and even hit children. I can't help but imagine the around-the-clock news coverage."

I dunno, seen from the outside, this sort of random mass shooting happens in the US an awful lot, at least once or twice a month.

I think this article is bogus and axe-grindy.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:47 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, always grinding that axe about how Americans are apathetic to violence. What a nag.
posted by GuyZero at 4:50 PM on May 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, it's a false dichotomy. This sort of stuff goes on at least once or twice a month all over the States and there is not round-the-clock news coverage. Probably the news media cares less about what happens in NOLA, but it's not like they care much more when a guy goes beserk outside of a Starbucks in downtown Seattle or whatever.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:09 PM on May 16, 2013


True, if every newscast covered every bit of random gun violence that happened daily in the US then people might actually demand that something be done. Better to simply not cover it.
posted by GuyZero at 5:14 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gun violence happens all the time, random mass shootings do not happen as often as you claim.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:17 PM on May 16, 2013


Has to do with the motive. This appears to be related to gang fights, not random people targeted merely because they are there. My understanding is that he was aiming for someone.

I agree completely. More people die on the roads every day. Where is the outrage? That's right, the point is accident versus deliberate versus deliberate for political reasons. It is more upsetting when violence is random on purpose. It would have been less of a story if the Boston Bombers were trying to kill a particular person the exact same way. Because we understand that, in a perverse sort of way. We don't like it any better, but it fits a narrative. Texas would have been more of a story if it was done on purpose rather than through negligence. And New Orleans would absolutely have been more of a story if it was random violence, rather than people getting in the way of a targeted murder.


when I mentioned the number of people shot annually, he replied that "You have to remember that [x] percent of that is black-on-black violence," since that skewed the statistics.

I hate that line of reasoning, and that particular line is tremendously racist, right wing or not. But I *think* the point is that not all gun violence is the same. Intent is relevant. We are terrified of the lone gunman shooting up a school with machine guns, because it is shocking and random. Assuming "black on black" is reverse code for "gang violence", that is far less random.

The sad, frightening fact is that people intent on murder and mayhem, or who have a disregard for life, will find ways to commit their crimes. The answer to the violence problem is to figure out how to have a gentler society that isn't so violent.
posted by gjc at 5:17 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hope they hike up the security for the Father's Day Parade. Oh, who am I kidding?
posted by Renoroc at 5:29 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


related-ish on my own outrage-filter 17 Pipe Bombs Found In Palms Apartment:

This was a few blocks from my apartment, and I was frankly kind of shocked at the police just shrugging and going, "eh, just some dude who's into explosives!" You can sure as hell bet that if he was any variety of Middle Eastern or brown, the news cycle would have been all over him 24/7, searching for any motivation beyond "crazy tweaker dude's just into bombs!"

And I was grimly unsurprised when this New Orleans shooting got so little coverage. Is anyone really surprised or shocked any more at how obvious the biases of the news are? It's not like I want more of the sick 24/7 news cycle, but the disproportionate way things are covered now is almost just as bad.
posted by yasaman at 5:42 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gun violence happens all the time, random mass shootings do not happen as often as you claim.

The US averages 20 mass shootings a year.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:29 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Like an event with no fatalities stands a chance in the news up against Angelina Jolie's boobs.
posted by Ardiril at 6:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Obviously and inexcusably guilty of Parading While Black...
posted by jim in austin at 6:33 PM on May 16, 2013


More people die on the roads every day. Where is the outrage?

Where I live, you absolutely--not sort of--have to have a car or some sort of transportation with an engine to get around at all well, unless you feel like upping your chances of dying even more by walking around in an area with no sidewalks. This is how most of America lives. And we've cut the number of driving deaths considerably over time with safety improvements and tightening drunk driving laws, etc. So what's your point?
posted by raysmj at 6:41 PM on May 16, 2013


Terrorism and the Public Imagination
posted by homunculus at 6:46 PM on May 16, 2013


I too could have seen this getting more coverage with deaths. But I also went around telling people at the time of the Boston bombing that no one could have imagined all of NOLA shut down for someone who murdered three people. Or have imagined the cumulative murders getting much attention. Hell, most murders barely get much attention within New Orleans (where I lived for a few years, until a couple of years back), until they're out of the ordinary in whatever fashion (well-known/talented or middle class-or-up person killed, triple murder or mass shooting, horrifying mistaken identity case, what have you).
posted by raysmj at 6:47 PM on May 16, 2013


Clearly, a wise terrorist faction should start buying a ton of legal guns and use those during an attack. It would not be labeled terrorism

Except that's the exact opposite point of terrorism, which is sowing terror and letting people know that even more terror is on the way. You know, terror. The concept that's right there in the word itself. ;-)
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:47 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've often thought (but obviously never voiced) that the best way to stage a terrorist attack in America would be bringing in three or four people with auto/semi-auto rifles to a shopping mall, or just spraying the pre-security lines at an airport. Shit would still get shut down, everyone would freak the fuck out, it's high casualty with low investment.

Pretty much every time I'm standing in line, actually, I think, "Wow, it'd be crazy easy to just murder all of us."
posted by klangklangston at 7:09 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


As I read this I wondered, how many other cities have Mother Day parades? I had never heard of this before.
posted by Postroad at 7:16 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure that there is also a strong East Coast Bias going on here as well. I am always astounded at how the national press jumps all over everything that happens in New York, Boston, Washington D.C. as if that's the only place people live.

Eh, this sort of thing (gang-related shooting in a public place results in numerous injuries to innocent bystanders, sometimes children) happens in New York all the time and never makes national news.

As a Louisianian who has lived in big coastal cities, this whole line of reasoning -- which comes up all the time, from situations like this to, like, why the USC quarterback is on the cover of Sports Illustrated instead of the LSU quarterback -- is bullshit. Seriously. Just get over it. Nobody is trying to persecute you by not covering you in the media. Really. Seriously.

As I read this I wondered, how many other cities have Mother Day parades?

I grew up in and around New Orleans and had no idea there was a Mother's Day parade.
posted by Sara C. at 7:31 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


As I read this I wondered, how many other cities have Mother Day parades?

New Orleans has parades for everything. From Mardi Gras to a Second Line forming for no reason at all.
posted by justgary at 7:32 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


And, again, I have to say it.

I'm not worried about a Muslim with a bomb. I'm worried about an American with either a gun or a car.
posted by eriko at 7:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


"New Orleans has parades for everything."

Wait 'til Louisiana legalizes same-sex marriage.
posted by Ardiril at 7:34 PM on May 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


why the USC quarterback is on the cover of Sports Illustrated instead of the LSU quarterback -- is bullshit.

Take two great quarterbacks of equal ability, one from USC and one from LSU, and the USC quarterback will get more attention nationally (even with the reputation of the SEC). Make one a white quarterback with the other black, and it will be even more blatant. It has nothing to do with persecution. It's also, in no way, bullshit.
posted by justgary at 7:37 PM on May 16, 2013


What's bullshit is the notion (which I've only ever heard coming from white people btw) that the rest of the USA has some kind of grudge against the south* and refuses to cover important news events that occur there because.

If a USC quarterback gets more attention than an LSU quarterback, it's most likely because USC is in the middle of the second largest city in the country. In fact, if you think about it, it's disproportionate that anyone in the entire USA has ever heard of LSU or even knows that football is played there.

Bringing it back around to the topic at hand, no, there's no inherent anti-south media bias that makes a shooting like Newtown huge national news but a shooting like the New Orleans Mothers' Day incident less at the forefront of people's awareness.

You can pin it on a lot of other reasons (and race is one I'll buy), but really and truly, as someone who has lived in both the populous Northeast and rural Louisiana, it really has NOTHING to do with some kind of bias against the south or notion that only things that happen in the NYC metro area are important.

*Growing up in Louisiana I've specifically heard it referred to regarding Louisiana, but it wouldn't surprise me if this is a popular idea in other southern states too, since Louisiana is actually a lot more high profile in the media than some other southern states.
posted by Sara C. at 7:49 PM on May 16, 2013


@old'n'busted Quick, who else died at the Boston bombing? A white kid, a cute white girl, and uh, um, ahh.... can't remember can you? Hint: a foreign national.

Um, I do remember, and I'd wager so does pretty everyone else in Boston. She was a grad student at BU. She was from China. If her name wasn't over the news as much as Martin Richard's, that's because she wasn't identified right away, and then because her family pleaded for privacy, which she mostly got.

I'm not saying you're wrong about the way that the media covers people of different races, but the glibness of such a blanket statement grinds my gears.
posted by pretentious illiterate at 7:51 PM on May 16, 2013 [9 favorites]


While I agree the disparity in coverage is disturbing, we seem to be uncritically agreeing that the reaction in Boston was right and the one in New Orleans was somehow wrong.

While I'd rather not have crime at all, the way it was handled New Orleans certain seems like the right one:

The police in the jurisdiction where the crime happened identified a suspect and made an arrest, and there will be a trial. People grieved and went on with their lives in their own way. Whereas in Boston we had virtual martial law, the Department of Defense getting involved for reasons I cannot possibly fathom, and absurd ads on TV asking for our money for "Boston," without even a pretense of explaining who needed money or why.

We shouldn't get used to mass shootings. But if they're going to happen, we should react sanely and in accordance with the Constitution, and that's what happened in New Orleans.
posted by drjimmy11 at 7:56 PM on May 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


Clearly, a wise terrorist faction should start buying a ton of legal guns and use those during an attack. It would not be labeled terrorism

The far-right line on guns gets unwelcome endorsement
posted by homunculus at 8:00 PM on May 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The weekend of the World Trade Center shooting last year, an acquaintance of mine was shot in Chicago - along with around thirty other people that night (it was a bad night). I think about a dozen were shot within half an hour on the same block? I remember telling people about it, and having to constantly have to clarify that no, it was in Chicago, not New York - that this other thing had happened and it got no coverage because it was classified as gang violence.

I sometimes play the game where I look and see when urban gun violence makes even a blip in national news. The one I remember before this was when the six-month old was shot five times. The coverage focused mostly on the father's criminal record.

It's the same thing here. People just seem like they can't even care if they can attach 'gang violence' to it, because somehow it means that the person deserved to be shot. And it makes me wonder what people think gang violence looks like and who it affects. Like, do they think that gang members go around killing each other all the time without any sort of reason? Do they think it's purely business backed? Do they think that all gang members are crack shots and only hit their target? The coverage always seems to be dehumanizing for all parties.
posted by dinty_moore at 8:12 PM on May 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the number of crimes committed and charges also play into it. The Boston bombing is multiple state and federal charges, then plus the whole crazy chase afterwards.

People are used to gun crime, and it takes a lot to rank high in the 'Most-Wanted' of the American imagination.
posted by rosswald at 8:44 PM on May 16, 2013


Gun violence happens all the time, random mass shootings do not happen as often as you claim.

There are dozens of mass shootings not listed on that Wikipedia page. So many that you can have three or four in a week and most people won't even know it.

To give some context, there are about 16,000 people murdered per year in the United States, mostly with firearms. Your Wikipedia page lists only 69 of them. You are leaving out 99.5% of the shootings.
posted by mbrubeck at 12:21 AM on May 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


CiSP, FWIW, I remember the shooting at Simon's Rock reasonably well. Many others will not, possibly because it was over twenty years ago.
posted by K.P. at 3:51 AM on May 17, 2013


Silly pundit, guns aren't for black people, they're for white people to defend themselves from black people. As has been pointed out, when a black kid shoots another black kid, nobody goes on TV and says the solution is more guns for black kids. This isn't a national tragedy because it's part of the ongoing narrative that gang violence (meaning, of course, black and Hispanic kids) is the tragedy, and it's only the tragedy because it makes white people uncomfortable. We may mention the danger to "mothers and children" but it's easy enough to imagine those as white mothers and children, the kind we white male guardians of order must protect. (There's plenty enough evidence that we as a society don't otherwise care about black mothers and children.) Gun violence in poor communities is only a problem when it threatens to spill over into the non-poor communities or when it can be used to scare non-poors into taking yet another action against black and brown people. This isn't a big mystery.
posted by Legomancer at 5:18 AM on May 17, 2013 [7 favorites]


I think the provocative nature of the event is the most important variable involved as far as media coverage is concerned. Gang violence is no longer provocative. It just isn't. We are used to it. We expect it. We have been desensitized to it. And so it prompts a big collective yawn when it happens. If that car bomb in Times Square went off and killed a bunch of people--that would have been a HUGE event because it would have represented a paradigm shift in the American experience. We hear about random bombs going off and killing scores of people in the Middle East all of the time. But it doesn't happen here, right? That makes us feel safer. We don't worry about a suicide bomber killing 50 people at your Farmers Market on Saturday morning. We just don't. But we perhaps do have a constant low grade fear of being shot because that is part of the American experience. So then Boston happened. It was a provocative event. It added something new to our fear list: random bomb inspired by political terror going off and killing me at public event. And even then, the Boston bombing was tiny compared to the provocative nature of 9/11. But 9/11 was less personal (big planes flown into huge buildings, huge buildings collapse, 3000 people killed). The Boston bombing was more intimate with the bomber lurking in the crowd at street level and making eye contact with his victims moments before blowing them up. In that way, the bombers represent the NEW boogeyman lurking among us. Now the boogeyman could be your neighbor. He could be your friend.

So it is not nearly as objective as some comments here suggest....like the size or race of the "killed" list. Where race does play a huge factor, I think, is the media coverage prompted by comparable events: white suburban kid with a "successful future" killed by random gun violence compared to black inner city kid killed by random gun violence.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 5:43 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


klangklangston: *cough*poorblackvictims*cough*

I thought about this too. I really think that race doesn't play as much of a part in our media's ignorance of tragic events as the surrounding poverty/disposition.

For example, if the same happened in a more upscale area it would be treated entirely differently regardless of race. If all the bystanders were white, but it happened at a trailer park, there would be a similar disinterest. When a rich celebrity gets a DUI, the media loses their minds. I think this is just a case of our mass media being infatuated with anything that revolves around money. (But I'm trying not to be too assumptive...perhaps I'm missing something that others see more clearly.)
posted by samsara at 6:45 AM on May 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


In order of how big the government response was:

Boston Bombings: Muslim aggressors, victims were "real americans" ... Shut down the whole city
Aurora theatre, Sandy Lake: White aggressors, victims were "real americans"... Big deal but quickly forgotten and often overlooked
New Orleans 2nd line: Black aggressors, low income victims:.... meh

If the 2nd line attack was "terrorism", that is a Muslim guy was involved, it would be all over the news and probably meet or exceed the attention rating of aurora or sandy lake


I've seen a lot of bad faith arguments on Metafilter, but this is definitely the worst of them. You know damn well that the difference between police actions in Boston and Aurora (for example) was due to the fact that in one case the perpetrator was in custody within minutes of the event and in the other the perpetrators were running around the city for an entire day throwing explosives and endangering lives. The only way that the thing you typed even makes sense is if you're suggesting that the police would have shut down Boston for a day even if they had immediately caught the bombers just because OH NO MUSLIMS. Also, Sandy Lake has not been at all forgotten or overlooked, the Second Line shooting was the top story on every news source I saw for at least an entire day after it happened... basically, everything about this comment is dishonest.

There are plenty of instances of Islamophobia, racism, and creepy media bias in this country. We don't need to outright lie to invent more.
posted by IAmUnaware at 7:02 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


This isn't a national tragedy because it's part of the ongoing narrative that gang violence (meaning, of course, black and Hispanic kids) is the tragedy, and it's only the tragedy because it makes white people uncomfortable.We may mention the danger to "mothers and children" but it's easy enough to imagine those as white mothers and children, the kind we white male guardians of order must protect. (There's plenty enough evidence that we as a society don't otherwise care about black mothers and children.) Gun violence in poor communities is only a problem when it threatens to spill over into the non-poor communities or when it can be used to scare non-poors into taking yet another action against black and brown people.

You know, you saying this is every bit as racist as the racism you think you see and are trying to call out.

Yes, it's true, the majority of people are not concerned about violence in poor communities - not black communities, or Hispanic communities, but poor communities. And they do not care because it is not impacting them, and as long as they avoid those communities, it is unlikely to ever impact them. It's NIMBY, not racism. If you want, you can call it classism, but the idea that everything that impacts the poor is overtly racist just because black and brown communities tend to be disproportionately poor is your thinking about race, not necessarily anyone elses. (Aside from the fact that the nomenclature of "brown people" for Hispanic is pretty problematic because we come in all colors.)

It's easy to imagine the mothers and children being imaged in the national consciousness, but they are not necessarily white - but they are middle class. They are adorable children in neat attire, faces scrubbed and shining, with photographs of them doing classic American activities in a house that seems straight from Good Housekeeping. It doesn't matter if those adorable children are black, white, or brown. What matters is their class image - as the innocent ones, the ones who are sheltered from violence and suddenly have been pushed into it.
posted by corb at 7:58 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


Guys, guys. We don't have to argue about whether it's about race or about class: it can be about race and about class!
posted by dinty_moore at 9:34 AM on May 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


The weekend of the World Trade Center shooting last year, an acquaintance of mine was shot in Chicago

World Trade Center shooting? There was an Empire State building shooting (I was down the block).

Is that what you mean?
posted by sweetkid at 9:35 AM on May 17, 2013


Why is violent crime so rare in Iceland? Iceland is awash in guns, yet it has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world. US law student Andrew Clark asks why.
posted by homunculus at 11:09 AM on May 17, 2013


Because nobody died. America has got so violent that there needs to be a large body count for people to take notice.

This is wrong. Murders (in general) are half of what they were 20 (or 30?) years ago. Gun murders (as a percentage) are also down. What has changed is the prevalence of the 24 hour news cycle and a few really big events that get endlessly repeated. The exact same thing has happened with terrorism following 9/11. America is actually NOT a violent place (on a worldwide or historical frame of reference). What violence (at least murder/gun violence) there is is very much disproportionally distributed among poor (and black) communities. And this is probably what this statement he replied that "You have to remember that [x] percent of that is black-on-black violence," since that skewed the statistics. was trying to get at, in a ham handed way, not necessarily meant to be as racist as it sounds.
posted by bartonlong at 11:20 AM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


You know, you saying this is every bit as racist as the racism you think you see and are trying to call out.

In America, racism is almost always a subset of classism. You can always get the middle class to hate on the poor. But as a bonus, you can usually get poor white people to hate on poor black people.
posted by Legomancer at 12:23 PM on May 17, 2013 [3 favorites]


In fact, if you think about it, it's disproportionate that anyone in the entire USA has ever heard of LSU or even knows that football is played there.

LSU has the 10th biggest college stadium in the nation, 11th most wins in history, two recent national titles (first to win multiple titles since the BCS was implemented), and plays in the strongest conference in college football. And you actually believe it's 'disproportionate' that anyone 'knows' football is played there, or has even 'heard' of LSU? That's ridiculous. LSU has earned as much, and more attention than USC, regardless of city size. If you're actually claiming that city size should equal media attention, in football and elsewhere, our views of the media's job couldn't be more different.

Seriously. Just get over it. Nobody is trying to persecute you by not covering you in the media. Really. Seriously.

...What's bullshit is the notion (which I've only ever heard coming from white people btw)

I know you're from New Orleans, and from everything I've read on Metafilter your opinion of New Orleans couldn't be lower. That's your thing, and that's great. But your low opinion of New Orleans in general appears to be coloring your comments. The article mentioned nothing about being 'persecuted'. That's your word; not the writers. And the article wasn't written by a white guy in rural Louisiana. It was written by a black writer that no longer even lives in New Orleans (so I guess now you can retire the it's 'only' white people you've heard this complaint from line). He simply believes that stories out of New Orleans, and similar places, are ignored. And he's right.

There are a lot of reasons this story hasn't garnered the attention of the bombing in Boston. But among them is the fact that tragedy among poor, black people is largely ignored. And New Orleans is, for the most part, a poor black city. And the residents of New Orleans realize this, and Katrina cemented that feeling. We'll agree to disagree, because if you honestly believe that the media isn't biased towards New York, Los Angeles... that a story dealing with white people isn't given priority over poor black people, I just don't even know how to take that view seriously.
posted by justgary at 11:10 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


The article mentioned nothing about being 'persecuted'.

My comments about the southern persecution complex have nothing to do with the article, they have to do with other comments in this thread.

"Persecuted" is my word, but a persecution complex is exactly what it is if you believe that tragedies that happen in your part of the world matter less to everyone else simply because everybody has it out for you, like, as a broad national region.

But among them is the fact that tragedy among poor, black people is largely ignored.

Yes, as it is similarly ignored when the same thing happens in bigger, more nationally prominent parts of the US. As I said in my original comment on the subject, this happens all the time in New York City and doesn't make national news.

A little over a year ago there was a shooting in my Brooklyn neighborhood at a parade very much like the New Orleans Mother's Day Parade, which resulted in a shootout between the original shooter and the police. At least one innocent bystander was killed. But you never heard about it, because it was a tragedy that happened among poor black people. Just like the situation at the Mother's Day parade.

It's not a matter of people having a special hate for Louisiana that causes them to deliberately ignore events that happen there.
posted by Sara C. at 11:24 AM on May 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


but a persecution complex is exactly what it is if you believe that tragedies that happen in your part of the world matter less to everyone else simply because everybody has it out for you, like, as a broad national region.

Well, again, I find this to be a bit of a straw man argument you keep going back to. I believe you've experienced that, but I don't see much of it in the article, nor in the discussion here, which seems to center on the problem being one of class and race; not anyone having it out for the state of Louisiana.

Yes, as it is similarly ignored when the same thing happens in bigger, more nationally prominent parts of the US.

So we agree on something.

New York City is around 27 percent black. New Orleans is around 60 percent black. More importantly, the New Orleans Poverty Rate Almost Twice the National Average.

You're right. It's not about having a special hate for Louisiana. It's about being a city that's largely poor (of all colors) and black. Add to that smaller, without even a major daily news paper, and it's easy to see why problems in New Orleans are, and have been, largely ignored by the national media compared to other whiter, richer regions... including New York.
posted by justgary at 6:45 PM on May 22, 2013


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