There’s a newspiece floating around Canada today. I don’t know if it’s made its way to the US yet, but it’s been all over national news here. And it makes me sick, for a number of reasons.

The story involves a killing on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba — a long way from Ontario, where I (and a good portion of Canadians) live. It’s a graphic tale, consisting of a man getting stabbed and then decapitated in a seemingly random act of violence. And the Globe and Mail was all over it — enough so that it was the first thing listed in my e-mail inbox this morning.

The story is greusome. So much so that I’m unwilling to even link to it. To be frank, I didn’t make it all the way through the story. I closed it, and had to apologize to my girlfriend for having snapped at her a bit in so doing. It’s not often that an issue stirs me enough that I shout at her — especially when it has nothing to do with her in the first place.

If you want, search it out. It’s on the front page of the news sites I visit. And I don’t know if other places are covering it so vividly as the Globe and Mail. But I suspect they are. After all, it sells papers and attracts viewers.

And we’re not just talking responsible newscasting. The piece went into moment-by-moment details, blood and gore included. One friend commented (without having seen the story) that it’s sometimes good for the media to keep us aware about these issues. Not this one. It took place far, far away from us, in a random incident that is terribly unlikely to occur to the next person to get on a bus. The man must have been psychopathic. Apparently he was completely calm throughout the incident. I don’t need to worry about him, and it’s hard to copycat psychotic composure. And even if there’s some inconceivable reason why I did need to know about this, there was no reason for them to go into the details they did. Except for the cashflow.


Sick that this kind of thing happens.

Sick that these are more and more frequently occurring.

Sick that the media gives them the attention at all. That seems to motivate them, at least somewhat. After all, there was Mr. “Now I’ll Be Famous” last time we talked about one of these incidences.

Sick that death is glorified, and violence is loved by our culture. Sick that this is considered normal news. Sick that this is the type of thing people mindlessly absorb in the evening, and turn into water cooler conversation the next day at the office.

Sick. Sick. Sick!


4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Bill
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 01:30:38

    I think there was some motivation here we don’t know about not on the part of the victim, but on the part of the criminal. The way this happened seems to imply that the murderer had a mental condition. This is likely not a I want to be famous issue. The way in which this happened leads to the conclusion that the murderer had no issues with gore, which even the most violent school shooting or mass murderer, don’t seem to be capable of. However I take your point as this was a solitary act of violence, why did it need to be transmitted from coast to coast besides the fact that it reads like a page out of a horror novel. This is news as entertainment but who is entertained by real horror. This is also the reason I don’t go see horror movies.


  2. Stephen
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 05:22:18

    I read the story yesterday afternoon. Like you, I’m not sure there’s any public value in it.

    As Bill says, the perpetrator is clearly a nut case. (Though Bill used more polite language.) The attack wasn’t just outrageously violent; the initial reports also indicate that it was completely unprovoked.

    That’s scary in one sense: “The guy next to me on the bus might kill me if I’m not alert at all times.” But it’s not scary in another sense. It’s utterly random, like being struck dead by a meteor while you’re out walking the dog. We don’t live our lives in constant fear of random death out of a clear blue sky.

    I don’t object to the Globe and Mail carrying the story. It’s clearly news, and every news organization is going to pick up on it. Not just in Canada but internationally, I’m sure. It’s the fascination of the abomination.

    But the Globe’s account was unnecessarily sensational. I would have preferred fewer eyewitness accounts of the victim’s decapitation. The facts are sensational enough all by themselves, and could have been presented more soberly.

    Besides, eyewitness accounts aren’t really very informative, because three different people will give you three different accounts of what happened, and none of those accounts will be terribly accurate. It’s going to take a few days for the police to carefully sift through everybody’s recollections in order to sort out what actually happened and put together a coherent narrative.


  3. Jack
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 13:41:34

    I feel very badly for the victim’s family. In the midst of tragedy they are going to be forced to endure so much unnecessary stress during their time of grief.


  4. nebcanuck
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 17:29:53

    Bill and Stephen:

    I agree completely about the insanity. I meant it literally when I said he must have been a psychopath. The Globe and Mail witnesses suggest he was completely devoid of emotion, “like he was having a day at the beach”. As Bill said, not even mass shootings suggest that the person is unaffected emotionally by their actions.


    That’s another thing that bothered me about the way the story was told. It was utterly focused on the murderer. There were a few scarce details about the victim, and then complete focus shifted to how horrible the attacker was. A tragic tale becomes no more than a B-rate slasher film, in this case. That’s a depressing lack of respect for a man’s death, and a horrible burden for the family to bear in a time they would sooner be grieving.


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