I’ve never known someone who was a victim of an American mass shooting until today.
I turned on Radio New Zealand this morning just in time for the headlines. I was shocked to hear that two TV journalists were murdered during a live interview in my home state of Virginia. As the morning dragged on, I heard the name of one of the victims, Alison Parker. A wave of sadness washed over me.
Alison Parker was a news editor for the James Madison University newspaper, The Breeze. She was the first news editor I worked with.
It’s not like I had a close relationship with Alison — I never really put any effort into building relationships or being friendly when I was in college — but I remember her always being bubbly and cheerful during the weekly news writers meetings. She was driven and motivated.
And now she’s gone.
I’m sick and tired of the constant stream of tragic shootings. I’m not sure if Americans know this, but our mass shootings are the one piece of news that are ALWAYS broadcasted throughout the world.
On my flight from Sydney to Auckland there was one television broadcast for the entire flight, instead of individual monitors. The first program was SKY News. The first story was the mass shooting of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina.
This was on June 19, the exact day that Vester Lee Flanagan claimed he put down a deposit for a gun in reaction to that shooting. I wonder how many crazed attackers this shooting has inspired. It was live on air, giving Flanagan a new level of infamy for others to strive for.
I’m fucking embarrassed to be an American. We are the only developed country in the world that has this problem. Alison Parker was an amazing person and journalist. Now she’s gone because American politicians are afraid of upsetting the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby. She’s gone because American politicians are more interested in tax cuts for the wealthy “job creators” than providing adequate funding for mental health facilities.
As bad as it sounds, this is the first shooting that has made me feel genuine sadness. Americans have become desensitized to mass shootings, but this one is different for me. I’ve talked to her and emailed her. She edited my news reporting on the JMU governing board. She was murdered on live television.
Alison Parker and Aaron Ward, Rest in Peace.