How to write about the Aurora shooting, in two words

Writing about a national tragedy like what happened in Aurora, Colorado last night is a daunting task for journalists. How to sum up the manifold terror and grief of that packed movie theater? How to convey to readers the gruesome scene, while maintaining respect for those who witnessed it firsthand? How to channel the public tide of mourning into empathetic civic discourse, into meaningful political action?

The short answer? You can’t.

After the facts are fully reported, it’s impossible to add any meaningful perspective to a meaningless act of violence (admittedly, I shouldn’t be writing this now). If there is any lesson to be gained from the thoughtless slaughter of a 9-year-old girl at her first midnight movie, it is that we are all too obsessed with our own image, our own perspective, our own take on the events.

So please, for one precious second, stop sharing your thoughts on the tragedy. Stop updating your friends with your opinion about the gun control laws in this country. Stop Tweeting your e-prayers to people who will never receive them. Give the friends and families of the victims the one thing you can. Give them the small consolation of your silence. Listen.

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