Tragedy is awful, no matter where it occurs

10/02/2013 2:48 PM

12/10/2013 10:29 AM

Four shootings. Each happened in a separate part of the metro area, and each incident drew a markedly different response.

The Saturday shootout in the 18th and Vine area hurt four people, two critically. It also generated a front-page article. People with business interests in the continued development of the historic jazz district are understandably concerned. They fear the reinforcement of an incorrect perception: that the historically significant area is dangerous.

Drawing far less interest was the Sunday night murder of a man in an Independence motel where people had gathered for tattoos. A homeless man has been charged. The circumstances are odd, but the victim and the accused are not sympathetic enough. Most people nod and move on.

And then there is the drive-by shooting that left an 8-year-old boy injured, but in stable condition, in Overland Park. He was shot Monday night while inside his home, bullets flying from a car outside. The reaction is shock, dismay. “Things like that don’t happen here!”

Finally, the most seriously injured victim who lived — and the youngest — drew scant response outside her community.

The 10-month-old girl is in critical condition. She was shot in the head a few hours before the Overland Park child was hurt, when bullets were sprayed from a car.

The baby suffered her life-threatening injuries in the 3900 block of Bellefontaine in Kansas City. It’s an East Side address where such horrors will not draw a response of “things like that don’t happen here!” Because they do, they happen all too often.

So often in fact, that news cycles, clicks on this newspaper’s website and community response all reflect our lack of surprise. Changing that is the challenge.

An Overland Park drive-by is shocking. Elsewhere, the same basic situation, even with a more severe injury, is not. In fact, it merely reinforces what we know: less affluent areas have more violent crime.

Look at a longer timeframe and the list of victims grows, quickly. A man was found murdered Saturday morning near 45th and Virginia. Two people were shot near 49th and Flora. And Liberty police are sorting out a double shooting where one person died.

It’s never-ending. Understandably, there is a certain numbness to violence that is ingrained day by day, incident by incident. But one thing is certain. For anything to change, a personal reaction to some incidents and a muddled or nonreaction to others has to stop.


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