Monday, April 30, 2007

At least three people were killed in a shooting incident at the Ward Parkway shopping mall in Kansas City yesterday. This one strikes a bit close to home, since Ward Parkway is about a mile and a half from my parents' house near 91st and Lee in Leawood. (The mall is between 85th and 89th streets, Ward Parkway, and State Line Road.) We shop at the Target, buy gas at the gas station, and bank at one of the banks there; I bought my first pair of track spikes at the mall in about 1982, and in high school we used to go to the movies there.

Not that I'm worried. Mass shooting incidents are so rare in the US that you're much more likely to be killed in a car wreck on your way to the mall than at the mall itself. If you're going to be murdered in Kansas City, you are most likely a gang member, a prostitute, or a domestic violence case, not a random victim. Speaking of which, there is a serial killer operating in KC murdering prostitutes along the Independence Avenue strip; the bodies turn up in the Missouri River. Catching this guy, a known threat to humanity, and giving him the injection, ought to be a bigger priority than taking steps to stop random shootings, which are completely unpredictable and very rare. KC has had several serial killers within the last 20 years, including Bob Berdella and John Robinson; much more worrying than crazy Michael Douglas guys with assault rifles. And if we really want to stop the kind of crime that hurts the poor the most, we should bust up the gangs and legalize drugs. Finally, we need to be much stricter about jailing men who abuse women, since they probably commit more acts of violence against the defenseless than anyone else. We can actually prevent murders by sticking these bullies where they belong, behind bars.

However, none of this stuff ever makes the news outside the US. TV3 ran the Ward Parkway shootings as their top world story, and it's one of La Vanguardia's five international stories and--get this--El Periódico's top international story, on their websites right now. I dunno. Some nut shoots three people at a mall in Missouri and it's bigger than Afghanistan and Iraq and Darfur and the Congo and Russia and Somalia and Iran.

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