This Washington Post article explores the strange juxtaposition of a homicide rate that has dropped in the last 20 years, while the number of mass killings (like the one last week in that Aurora, Colo., movie theater) have pretty much stayed steady. From the article:
The United States experienced 645 mass-murder events — killings with at least four victims — between 1976 and 2010, according to Northeastern University criminologist James Alan Fox. When graphed, these incidents show no obvious trend. The numbers go up and down and up again. The total body count: 2,949.
Beyond the raw data, there is the psychic toll. Mass murder, when amplified in the news media, turns a big country very quickly into a small one and turns faceless body counts into real people enduring real pain and real tragedy.
Meanwhile, as a side note, the actor Christian Bale, who plays Batman in the movie that was showing in that Aurora theater, took it upon himself to visit some of the shooting victims in Colorado hospitals yesterday. Do click on the Batman link. It has a message from the movie’s director, Christopher Nolan, that says, in part:
I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.