Here's one media bias everyone accepts (and expects): showing compassion and sympathy for a community after a horrifying mass murder, such as the killings at Northern Illinois University. The leftist website Alternet proved the exception to the rule, printing a bizarre article by an author named Mark Ames that trashed NIU as a mediocre school for mediocre students, and suggested that the "flat" plains of Middle America could make anyone shoot up a school or a post office. The headline was:
Northern Ill. University: Was the Killer Crazy, or the Campus Hopeless? Bracket this massacre as the work of a lunatic on drugs, and you miss the chance to consider the horrors of life in middle America.
Ames granted that the killer, Stephen Kazmierczak, was a loser -- if we grade on a curve for the depressing Midwest: "Let's assume he's at least partly right: Kazmierczak probably was a loser, by the standards of Midwestern American winners." Ames trolled the message boards of college students looking for people trashing NIU, which he summarized: "What you find is an enormous amount of anger and regret -- the sort of regret you'd expect from a middle-aged Willy Loman looking back on a wasted life."
After Ames circulated several hate-NIU notes, he concluded that perhaps the college in some way earned the massacre with its mediocrity:
If you're wondering why Kazmierczak transferred out of NIU to the University of Illinois-Champaign last spring, this might help explain it; if you're wondering, as many bloggers have, why he'd come back and shoot up NIU rather than his current university, these sentiments are at least worth considering.
Then Ames concluded by turning his leftist snobbery toward the broader Midwest:
Kazmierczak's hometown, Elk Grove Village, Illinois, is also revealing of the vast, flat middle of Middle America. Located on the edge of Chicago's hyper-busy O'Hare Airport, Elk Grove Village has a humble population of roughly 40,000 almost all-white middle-class citizens (mostly German and Polish stock), yet it hosts, as it proudly boasts, the largest consolidated business park in North America. Packed into its humble 5.4 square miles are 3,800 business, hosting over 100,000 workers servicing O'Hare Airport alone, and several Interstate highways servicing the wall-to-wall giant flat-roofed warehouse structures, corporate offices and, yes, suburban tract homes...
Scratching the surface of his life -- a very familiar, flat sort of American Hell -- makes his need for medications a bit more understandable, as is the case for the millions of Americans like him who take psychiatric medication. Indeed, someone who wouldn't turn to antidepressants would, in my opinion, be the sick one.
If we bracket his massacre as the work of an evil lunatic on drugs, we'll miss yet another opportunity to genuinely examine what life is like for most Americans today, who live in that terrifying gap between the official propaganda about a nation of happy fun-loving Number Ones, and the reality of mediocrity, petty malice, and a flat physical setting that reflects the malice and mediocrity of its town elders.
Unbelievable. (Hat tip to Michael Warner.)