Sunday, April 09, 2006

Murder, close to home

I live in an anomalous city called London. It's in southwestern Ontario, about midway between Toronto and Detroit. I use the term "anomalous" because despite its size - around 350,000 people - it feels small. The attitude in the street and at City Hall is decidedly small town. The streets are still fundamentally safe at night. Our neighborhoods are, for the most part, picturesque examples of what a mid-sized city in a tier 1 nation can offer.

The cliches that ran through our minds when we decided to move here continue to resonate:
  • It's a great place to raise kids.
  • We don't have the same problems as big, bad cities like Detroit.
  • The things that happen there just don't happen here.
Illusion is a wonderful thing. It is also incredibly transient.

By now, many of you may have read about the discovery of eight bodies in and around four abandoned cars parked by a farmer's field in a tiny burg called Shedden. It's being called one of Canada's worst mass murders in a decade, and Ontario's worst ever. Media worldwide are running this story on their front pages. Rumors are now flying about organized crime and biker gangs. As I write this, police are laying siege to a suspected biker's home a mere few kilometers away from the murder scene.

The crime scene is about a half hour's drive southwest of my house. I have cycled past there on many occasions, racing through the rolling countryside and wondering why more people don't choose this lifestyle. The discovery brings home the sad reality that crime of all kinds can happen anywhere. No one region is immune. Ignoring reality doesn't change this stark fact.

In the days, weeks and months to come, we'll learn more about the intricacies of this case. We'll learn who the victims were, and why - and by whose hand - they met their end. We'll hopefully witness the deliverance of some semblance of justice, and we'll all go back to our lives as this case - for everyone but the victims' families, that is - gradually fades into history.

However it plays out, we can safely consider the illusion shattered. Wherever we live, there is no such thing as sanctuary.

Your turn: Is society losing its innocence or is this simply media spin at its finest?


kenju said...

We are, unfortunately, losing our innocence. I am continually saddened by the heinous crimes that are committed daily. When I was a child, these things happened few and far between - or so it seemed. Maybe I just didn't know about them or they were kept from me.

Michele sent me, Carmi. Did I ever tell you that I was in your city the summer that I turned 16?

Anonymous said...

I do think it's true that with so many ways to get news, and with the 24 hour cycle, the media will look for stories. One like this, unfortunately, will get broad attention and will reach many. In the old days even though stuff like this happened, you didn't hear about it as immediately as we do now and so it didn't feel so close to home. Yes, the media has helped shrink the neighborhood that's for sure.

scrappintwinmom said...

Horrible story. I think we are losing our innocence. As a parent, there never seems to be any place *safe* enough for us to raise our kids.

Here via Michele as always.

Unknown said...

I think it's both. The media is wild about these kinds of stories, but they sell. That's the sad truth about the media...they report what sells papers, tv ads, etc.

But, OTOH, society is getting a bit insane. We recently had a murder in our city that turned out to be a hired hit. Who would have every thunk it?

What bothers me is that these kinds of stories are reported instead of real news about Darfur or Iraq. I would much rather read and hear what the heck is happening in the world beyond fires, murders, and natural disasters. All of those are important, but gee, isn't an entire populace that is being decimated by a combination of famine, ethnic cleansing, and warlords JUST as important?

scrappintwinmom said...

And p.s....
I used to manage tech support help desks too!! ((high five!!))

L said...

I definitely don't think anyone's lost "innocence"; just look at all the massacres, slavery, rape, etc. that has been going on for centuries. The only difference now is that it can be broadcast at a moment's notice all over the world, so that we become oversaturated with it

Linda said...

Society is doomed to lose its innocence. Biblically speaking, it has been predicted...things will get worse and worse.

The media, however, does put more spin and focus on it. At times I often wonder...would we have heard this story 20 years ago? Has the media become focused on bringing the extreme to the forefront in order to justify their existence?

sage said...

The story is a tragedy and I'm glad you are safe.

I think we, the human race, lost our innocence a long time ago. It's just that media is able to report on things quickly. And murder has always had the ability to catch our attention.

As for the long term trend, remember "IN Cold Blood" occured in the early 50s and the guy who carried out the murders at the Chicago's World Fair (and in a number of other US and Canada cities) did it in the 1890s (see THE DEVIL IN THE WHITE CITY). Even in the "violent" American West, things were actually less violent that protrayed, as long as you weren't a gambler or prostitute or thief according to a study by Roger McGrath.

Anonymous said...

I think we've already lost our innocence. I worry that we'll eventually fail to be shocked when we read about murders such as the one you decribed.
And if we're not easily shocked, will we become apathetic toward the victims? I hope not.

For example, I wasn't shocked at all when I read about these murders, but I was saddened. Had it been in my own home town, I definitely would have been stunned and probably would be very much on edge.

My hub's family is from London,Ontario and I think I'll send them the link to your site. Might be nice for them to "meet" a neighbor, so to speak!

Tess said...

I think it's a combination of the two - it's nice to see thoughtful comment on this tragedy rather than just more wild speculation!

Thanks for visiting my blog :-) It still seems so weird without the Expos. My dad used to take us to games at the Big O as well. Lots of fun.

Anonymous said...

Both. How come I hadn't heard about this. I watch the news everynight and get news online all day.

I keep thinking about Michael Moore's visit to Canada and his comparison of it to the US in Columnbine. I hate to think that Canada might be going the way of the US. Perish the thought!