The Danforth will endure, but death has changed it
National Post, 25 July 2018
That section of the Danforth, like Yonge and Sheppard before it, will now be known for the deaths that took place there rather than those who live there
On Monday, looking at the news for the first time since the Danforth shooting the night before, my eye was caught by reports about a newspaper in New York. The New York Daily News had announced a major downsizing, laying off some 50 per cent of its staff.
The Daily Beast had the story, quoting staffers who described the layoff as “a massacre” and “a bloodbath.”
Not literally. Our exaggerated metaphors sting when the reality is before us. The Daily News would know that better than most, covering as it does more violence than we do here. Amongst those laid off were the editor in chief, the managing editor, the city editor, most of the photographers, two dozen reporters and editors from the sports section, a crime reporter and one Edgar Sandoval, the “immigration and mass shooting beat reporter.”
The Daily News had its own mass shootings beat. There were not so many mass shootings that Mr. Sandoval could devote himself entirely to covering them; he divided his time by covering immigration as well. But still. It is noteworthy that when the generic crime beat doesn’t get the job done, a specialist in mass shootings is required.
The mass shooting — whether terrorist inspired, gang related or driven by the distress of mental disturbance — is now a regular part of contemporary life. The Danforth shooting seems to be of the third kind, but other factors may have been at play as well.
As part of contemporary life, there are public rituals to be observed. It’s easy to dismiss, or even mock, the mayor on the scene pushing a legislative response, or the fundraising drives set up for the victims, or the Facebook status alerts indicating that one is “safe,” or the #TorontoStrong invocations, or the journalists who wander the scene taking careful note of passersby bravely quaffing a beer or ordering a slice, proving that life moves on.
It always does. But we need ways to attribute meaning and cope with such evil, and those public rituals, from politics to philanthropy, can meet that need.
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