In the wake of the shootings at First Baptist Church in Sunderland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were killed, I was assaulted by the following headline by multiple news sources: “Columbine is no longer one of the 10 deadliest shootings in modern U.S. history.” I understand why the media is doing this. They’re trying to get the point across that there’s been so many mass shootings recently that one of country’s greatest tragedies has been eclipsed by recent events. However, in doing so they’ve done a great disservice to many people in the process.
First off, in this society that either only reads the headlines, or only clicks on listicle links, it lessens the impact of Columbine and what happened there. While there were other school shootings in the late 1990s prior to Columbine, Columbine was the flashpoint where school shootings were added to the common American vernacular and has sadly influenced almost every school shooting since. To say it’s been somehow ‘demoted’ from this dubious list not only lessens its historical impact, but it also trivializes the lives and deaths of the 13 victims who died and the many who were left with lifetime scars from the Columbine shooting.
Secondly, lists like this that are ranked by body count, turn mass shootings into a competition. While I’m not saying this article will spur dozens of mass shooters trying to make the ‘top ten’, there may be at least one who was already planning a mass shooting who’s now looking to crack the list. This is not a competition. All the numbers listed on the article are people who are now dead due to some selfish asshole who couldn’t deal with their own inadequacies in their lives.
In my opinion this is irresponsible journalism designed to get clicks rather than to inform.