Editor’s Column – Moral Outrage is In

Vanessa Persico

Last week, this newspaper ran an article about the recent shootings at Delaware State University (DSU). Like many other newspapers in our situation, we thought it would be the best way to respond to the surprise, sympathy, and, frankly, fear that such an event provoked. How thick-headed would it be to look the other way when students just like us are shooting each other just a few states over?

But then it happened again.I wouldn’t have heard about it except that my Political Science professor brought it up at the beginning of class on Monday: a University of Memphis football player was fatally shot on Sunday night.The news reports are rife with the passive voice, not mentioning yet who may or may not have shot him, and USA Today seems to be trying to cast this tragedy in a positive light, or at least set it apart from Virginia Tech and DSU, by highlighting the fact that the shooting was “personal,” saying thatit “was not a random act of violence.”

Well, to be frank, that’s ridiculous.I don’t care whether it’s the random psychotic break of a mentally disturbed student at war with society, the irrational escalation of quasi-gang conflicts, or a personal conflict gone bad: all of a sudden, it’s as if college students think that a gun is at least within the realm of possibility when trying to deal with people they have problems with.And it’s not.

Letme repeat that.Shooting peoplewho piss you off is NOT an option.

The media — this newspaper included — is partially to blame forspreading the wrong perception.Neutrality is (supposed to be) king for journalists — and anyway, for this and other college papers, editorial policy insists that we focus on the significance that events have for our campus.As a result, the reporter must take a very blas?e stance toward the events being reported on, taking them as a given, a thing that has already happened, and certainly nothing to be noted for its idiocy or moral bankruptcy.

But by stating blandly that such-and-such has happened,the reporteris entering it in the set of “things people do,” a societal cafeteria from which individuals can pick and choose their actions and reactions to the world around them.When such-and-such is pretty obviously an aberration, the reporter can’t help but feel a twinge of guilt.

(In case you think I’mjust running off my mouthhere, take a look at who wrote the blurb on the DSU shootings last week.)

Moral outrage is getting a bad name in our society because so many people with so much power are wielding it so clumsily.I think it just needs to be kept in its place: not in a bedroom with two consenting adults, but rather on a college campus in the minds of this generation, which has watched too many of its own gunned down by their fellows.

So, if you’ve got beef, fine.Give a person the cold shoulder, glare at them in the halls, smack down their points in class, or, most radically of all, talk it out with them constructively.But I’d bet some serious money that, whatever the problem is, it’s just not worth anyone losing their life.