Hideous news from Las Vegas. It’s the deadliest mass shooting in the history of the United States.
Reading the coverage and the commentary, I’m reminded of the song ‘Nothing Ever Happens‘ by the Scottish band Del Amitri.
The song is 28 years old now. Some of the lyrics I find too simplistic, like a sixth former berating the world (“Ignorant people sleep in their beds, like the doped white mice in the college lab”). But in other ways it feels contemporary:
Nothing ever happens / Nothing happens at all / The needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before
Some times it is ISIS. Sometimes it’s the Far Right. Every time something like this happens, we trot out the same analyses. In recent years, we do not even have to go to the trouble of actually writing anything new: we just share an old blog post we wrote after the last one, or share a pre-written tweet like this one.
Muslim shooter = entire religion guilty
Black shooter = entire race guilty
White shooter = mentally troubled lone wolf
— Sally Kohn (@sallykohn) December 21, 2014
When there's a tragic breaking news story like today, here's how you can be a responsible media consumer: pic.twitter.com/5MQJdPmjaL
— Matthew Gertz (@MattGertz) October 2, 2017
The needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before. At least now the song is at a quicker tempo and our discussions are marginally more sophisticated. There was a time when it would take days for someone to point out the differences between how Muslim terrorism and white terrorism is covered by the media. Now it happens within minutes of the ethnicity of the shooter being identified.
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre I wrote about the ritual of condemnation: politicians have evolved very specific way of responding to terrorist attacks. They know they have to say the same thing after each one, lest they be accused of belittling the crime or disrespecting the dead.
Even this kind of blog post, the one you are reading now, is recycled. The points I make here might usually be termed ‘third-day’ analysis—commentary on the commentary of the news. And yet I am able to post this just a few hours after the atrocity has happened. This is because I originally drafted this post after the Orlando nightclub shooting in 2016, but never quite manage to finish writing it. So these paragraphs have sat in my blog ‘drafts’ section for many months, waiting for another outrage to hit us. As certain as a seasonal storm.
Or to put it another way:
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) October 2, 2017