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What do School Shootings and Richard Sherman have in Common?

Violence in our Society and Stupidity on the Football Field

Last night I heard about yet another shooting in a shopping mall; yet another random act of violence in the most violent nation on earth excluding, of course, politically-motivated violence such as we see in the Middle East and Africa. I reflected on the significance of this latest shooting and those at college campuses last week, including at South Carolina State University (one student killed), Purdue University (teaching assistant killed), and Widener University (one shot -- no one killed). Shootings at three different colleges in just one week and they are treated as an after-thought by the media. Have we become so accustomed to shootings in our schools, malls, and the workplace that three shootings at colleges in one week aren’t worth a probing report as to why they happened; could they have been prevented?; and is there a common denominator that might identify red flags?

Have we become so blasé as a nation that we no longer are moved by such shootings? Our hearts no longer reach out to the families of those killed? Yes and no. It goes much deeper than that. The crux of the matter is that we have become de-sensitized to these events because the social media culture that we live in has distracted us from what is most important in life, which is life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The values that built this country are snuffed out almost every day as one person takes the lives of innocent others. We have lost our moral compass as a nation both in the random acts of violence and our insensitivity to what now has become a weekly event.

As I thought about these senseless shootings, the paucity of media response, and the lack of genuine concern by our Congressional representatives, I wondered how so much attention could be given to Richard Sherman's rant while speaking to Fox reporter Erin Andrews after the Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football Conference championship game and so little to the shootings. The media coverage of Sherman acting-out seems to be out of proportion, at least to me, when compared to the shootings. I guess most of use would rather focus on the stupid things that happen in our society rather than the critical events that have changed our country to the 'Wild, Wild West' of years ago. What does that say about our national psyche, I wonder?

Our priorities as a nation are upside down. When we start to care more about the antics of a professional football player than the troubled times we live in, then we have lost our way. A sign of the times is a You Tube posting of the ABC report on the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. It has received 800,000 hits while the Richard Sherman rant that occurred just 8 days ago has received over 1 million hits for the original Andrews 'interview' and over 2 million for videos posted through other sources.

According to the online site ‘ThinkProgress,’ there has been an average of one school shooting every other school day so far this year. This is shocking and appalling.Though the sample size is far too small to draw any definitive conclusions, 2014 is off to a deadly start: in the first 19 school days of the year, there have been at least 17 school shootings. For sake of comparison, there were 28 school shootings in all of 2013, according to gun violence prevention group Moms Demand Action.

We need to have a national dialogue on school violence and how we can begin to combat the problems and needless sacrifice of human life that has occurred as a result. We need true leadership on this issue. It can start small – in communities, cities, and states – but, ultimately, it must be dealt with at the national level.

Our hearts go out to the family of Andrew Boldt (of Purdue University) and Brandon Robinson (of South Carolina State) and all those who have lost loved ones because of gratuitous violence in America – and in just one week.

Blog Posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on January 27, 2014