Reader's View: Inadequate to call shooting a tragedy

Tragedy doesn’t quite convey the intentionality of this act, the evil viciousness of this crime.

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On Sunday, Nov. 20, a public official described another mass shooting, this one at Club Q in Colorado Springs, as “a tragedy.” As he spoke the word, a word used too many times over the past few years, it felt inappropriate and insufficient to describe the brutal horror that transpired. The Titanic was a tragedy. The Fukushima earthquake and tidal wave was a tragedy. The loss of a child to disease or accident is a tragedy.

A mass shooting technically fits most definitions of tragedy. The essence of the word, however, conveys a randomness of cause, an act of God, or a description of loss from known and accepted risks such as hurricanes and accidents. Tragedy doesn’t quite convey the intentionality of this act, the evil viciousness of this crime.

Use of the word tragedy cushions the community from the starkness of the horror that just occurred. It subtly moves these terrible events into the realm of acceptability, another horrible event like losses from natural disasters that we mourn but accept as part of the order of things.

We need a word that describes the intentionality and brutality of this event. A word that conveys and demands outrage, not sorrow. This wasn’t a tragedy. It was a cold-blooded, hate-filled attack upon a group of innocents who apparently didn’t meet the assailant’s warped view of who “us” is.

I don’t know what that word is, but I know tragedy falls woefully short.


David Montgomery


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