You’ve probably read by now about the Church Shooting in Tennessee.
When I had heard about it, however, it had pretty much just happened and so I was trying to piece together what “really” happened from the little tidbits the webpages were presenting.
Looking back, I found myself wondering about media narratives in general. But let’s begin at the beginning…What I knew, at first, was that Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church had a gunman show up during a performance of Annie and he shot a number of people. It was pointed out that the church had a sign on the front welcoming homosexuals. The report was later updated to have someone say…, ah, I’ll just quote the story:
She said the gunman was yelling “hateful things” and was wearing a red, white and blue T-shirt.
“He looked like bad guy.” Kemper said.
Hoo boy. I was writing the narrative in my head and envisioning the news reports to come out in the coming days. “Anti-Gay Bigot Shoots Up Children’s Production!” “Is Your Church At Risk Of Shootings Because It’s Too Tolerant? Find out at 6!” That sort of thing.
I thought about Proposition 8 in California and wondered about how this would affect that.
I thought about gun control laws and whether this would have any affect on what was likely to happen in the coming days as Heller is pushed and prodded by the various localities.
And then another article came out. This one.
Here’s the excerpt that turned everything topsy turvy:
“He had his own sense of belief about religion, that’s the impression I got of him,” said neighbor Karen Massey. “We were talking one day when my daughter graduated from Bible college, and I told him I was a Christian, then he almost turned angry.
“He seemed to get angry at that.”
Reading those words, I saw the story slowly begin to melt away. There was not going to be an anti-gay angle. The comparisons to the New Life Church shooting in Colorado Springs (remember that?) from December might give the story legs for a day or so… but the shooter in this case had a shotgun (home defense) rather than a high powered rifle or a handgun (weapons used in the commission of the Colorado shootings). And, of course, it was “merely” a guy shooting up a church because he didn’t like Christians.
And why the Unitarian Church? One that welcomed gays and was putting on a presentation of Annie? Well, if you’re fixing to commit a hate crime, I reckon that your victim merely fit a particular profile and anything beyond that doesn’t much matter. One church is surely as good, or bad, as another and anyway they all look the same.
But I’m pretty sure we’ll all be able to forget about this story by Wednesday. The media isn’t likely to be reminding us of it, anyway. No really interesting angles. Just a nut with a gun. An isolated incident. Nothing to see here.
Anyway, there’s an election going on.