Following (another) tragic mass shooting in Indiana that killed 3 people and injured more over the weekend, local and national media outlets are hailing the “Good Samaritan” that shot the gunman and prevented more fatalities.
This loss of life is tragic, and we can certainly be grateful for an intervention that prevented a higher casualty list. I don’t mean to diminish the significance of this bystander’s role in saving lives; especially not when there have been more than 350 mass shootings in the U.S. so far this year. But sometimes, the casual use of the term “Samaritan” in American media is as problematic as its casual relationship with biblical imagery. Both practices amount to cultural appropriation at best; and at worst, contribute to underlying issues of racism, violence, and imperialism in our broader culture. Here are a few ways that twisting scripture for a grabby headline can be a problem.
I can think of so many better headlines... Perhaps "Young Man Shows Courage in Tragic Situation" would be appropriate; or "350+ U.S. Shootings in 2022: This One Could Have Been Worse." But maybe the most apt title of all would be simply to say: "We Don't Have To Live Like This."
How would you change the headline? And how do we flip the script?