How many people died?
The reports (and slow-to-appear-details for those of us that read RSS headlines) of yesterday’s gunman-rampage in Montreal raised an interesting detail question: how do we consider the loss of life of the perpetrator of a crime?
When I read that some asshole goes charging into a school with a gun, I don’t care what happens to him (except that he is stopped). If he commits suicide or is killed by police, does he get included in the total of dead?
If a suicide bomber detonates an explosive belt in the middle of a crowded marketplace, do we count her as well?
Headlines tell us “XX dead in Baghdad suicide bomb” or “Shooting rampage leaves Y people dead.” Do you expect the total to include only victims?
I’m not suggesting what is right, only what we are conditioned to expect. Perhaps there are some journalistic standards for accuracy here. Perhaps they vary by region. The headlines from Montreal are emphasizing that two people are dead, but one of those is the shooter.
It’s not even a moral judgement of the value of life, but just a reaction to the story “Oh my God – what happened – how many people were killed?” that focuses strongly on the victims of the crime.
Just some thoughts on mulitiple perspectives buried within a story…