April 20, 2014

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The Shooters Aren't The Only "Copycats"

There have been a lot of stories lately related to school shootings or incidents. But do they really have anything in common?

On the Today program Sunday morning, newscaster Jenna Wolfe read an item which began, "There's been another movie theater shooting in the news"...

 
Well, yes...and no.
 
The incident happened mostly outside a San Diego theater complex (actually across the street in an adjacent shopping complex), and, according to news accounts, (including Wolfe's), it began with an arguement between the shooter and his girlfriend. He threatened witnesses who tried to intervene with a gun, and that's when the police began a search for him, which ended with the gunman being shot and hospitalized. During the search, police entered the complex and moviegoers ducked for cover, but no one inside was injured.
 
The question is: would this have been news (at least national news) before last summer's movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado? Probably not, at least not national news. The only common thread is that there was someone with a gun near-not inside-the theater.
 
But another shooting incident-last month's fatal shootings in Newtown, Connecticut-have prompted people to use that case to get attention to their own causes.
 
The incident where a Parkersburg High School teacher kept a student in a box (actually surrounded him with a cardboard box), got not only local, but state and even some national attention.
 
When the student's mother e-mailed WTAP about it, she said the student had Asperger's Syndrome, which she noted was also a symptom of the Newtown shooter. Again, not necessarily.
 
Family members of the shooter's mother told 60 Minutes that the shooter had Asperger's. But that has been disputed. And, in subsequent stories, mental health experts stated there was no connection between Asperger's and violent behavior.
 
Let me be clear: if the teacher in the PHS incident has done this, and especially if she has done this before with other students, the teacher should be disciplined.
 
But the story should be judged on its own merits, not according to how it relates to others.
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