OPINION | This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
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Robert Aaron Long, twenty-one years old, of Woodstock, Georgia, drove to three separate massage parlors to commit murder yesterday. His unrighteousness and completely unjustified vengeance left eight dead and more injured. Many grief-stricken people across the Atlanta metro feel understandable outrage as the nation joins them in mourning the senseless violence.
Unfortunately for the victims’ families, the legacy media has taken hold of the story and uses it to further a preferred narrative. Authorities have pointed out that no motive for the crimes has been established. Still, that’s not stopping some outlets from pushing their agenda. A quick browser search returns titles soaked in pejorative lexicology with words like ‘religious,’ ‘nerdy,’ ‘Trump supporter,’ and ‘racially motivated.’ All of these may be true. Now is not the time to opine on what the madman might be.
Mr. Long will have his day in court. His reckoning in the court of public opinion is well underway. Tying him to religious or political groups is a weaponized tactic used to sow further division. Pushing a narrative that Robert was bent on administering his brand of justice diminishes the story that should be told.
The victims were everyday Americans. They lived everyday lives. They worked everyday jobs. Any notion that the deranged gunman was on a moral crusade offers fatalistic confirmation bias that we cannot build unity in place of division. The victims deserve our reckoning. They deserve that we demand Robert go through our criminal process to determine what exactly happened and why.
If it is true that Robert was radicalized, let’s examine the red flags that were missed along the way. Our country is polarized and hypersensitive to any flash of violence or open confrontation. When violence or criminal behavior occurs, we should treat it like the illegal act of an individual or group that it is. Connecting dots that don’t exist creates a web of conspiracies for anyone grasping at straws to reach for. It leads to more reckoning.
We end up hating one another—much like the hatred Robert had in his heart. In so doing, we exacerbate a tense situation and compel everyone to dig their trench just a little deeper. It doesn’t honor the victims. It doesn’t encourage conversation around mental health. It only produces more pejorative connotations of how we describe anyone who doesn’t think like us or look like us.
Of course, I am always saddened when I read about violence unfolding in the news. I’m sure you feel the same way. For anyone to assume the wanton loss of life does not sadden us suggests the assumer doesn’t see you or me as capable of having rational thought or basic human emotions. That problem lies with any person who cannot empathize—not with you or me.
I do want Robert—and anyone who supports this sort of bloodshed—to face a reckoning. I want it to be a legal reckoning. We have a system in place to address violent criminal behavior. We cannot allow this to become another ‘what’s wrong with America’ conversation.
Bad people do bad things for reasons that good people can’t fathom. My dad once asked me why people commit murder. I told him if we knew the answer to that, we’d be able to stop them. I also said that regular Americans like you and me would never know the answer because we cannot leap to that place in our minds to commit such atrocities. If Robert is guilty of what is alleged, then he deserves his reckoning.
As always, this has been the World, According to Chris.
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