On Jan. 9, 19 people were shot in Tucson, Ariz. Six people were killed, one of whom was federal Justice John Roll and one of whom was a nine-year-old girl named Christina Taylor.
Thirteen more were injured, one of whom was Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (representative of the 8th District of Arizona), who was shot point-blank in the head by 22-year-old Jared Loughner and somehow, miraculously, survived.
I was required to read as many articles as possible on this issue for a class I am currently taking.
It was the first time in a while that I have gone to the trouble of gaining a well-rounded perspective on an issue.
I knew that a single media source rarely is a reliable account when trusted by itself, but my hesitant attitude toward doing unrequired research stopped me from putting in the effort I should have.
I read a variety of articles on the Arizona shooting. I read about it in the New York Times, in a special edition of Time Magazine, on the Wall Street Journal Blog and in ABC News.
I watched President Obama give a speech about the event at the memorial service for those who were shot.
I viewed Sarah Palin's speech about the whole ordeal online (it's posted to her Facebook, and you don't have to "like" or friend her to see it) and Jon Stewart's speech about it on his corresponding "Daily Show."
I finally read the World News Report, BBC News and dailymail.co.uk. I saved those until last because I wanted to gauge the American perspective before moving on to international takes.
The American news told the story, but the details seemed unimportant to the reports that were given.
Rather than focusing on who was shot, how it happened and what those who lived through the shooting were going to do to cope with the aftermath, reports centered on politics.
The issues of gun control, the mental health system and heated political rhetoric weaved in and out of every report and suffocated the real story that each had intended to tell.
Each report politicized the shooting so much that the parties started to take stances on it, and the media conversation now resounds with typical left-wing/right-wing dynamics wherein the parties fight over which set of ideals would better have prevented what they now simply refer to as "the tragedy."
What's even more atrocious is how some politicians are using this event to their advantage, by fine-tuning their public images through media attention and political defenses.
It wouldn't be so disheartening if non-U.S. news reports weren't so markedly different.
The Daily Mail, for example, which reports to the UK, stayed clear of political aspects of the event altogether.
Titles of reports included "Astronaut husband at Congresswoman's bedside as she fights for life after 18 are shot in Arizona gun rampage," "Gunman was tackled to the ground by two brave bystanders" and "Mrs. Giffords is mother of two who is married to astronaut Captain Mark Kelly."
The focus of the articles was on the horror of the event and the difficulties faced during and after it by those involved.
Other articles by the Daily Mail and other non-U.S. news sources actually discussed the non-political victims of the shooting, which most American reports did not do.
Besides elaborating on Giffords' condition and the death of Justice Roll, American news sources were inclined only to mention Christina Taylor, who was born on 9/11 and consequently featured in a "Faces of Hope" book intended to commemorate the day.
I think that the editor of Time Magazine made a good point in the Editor's Note he wrote for the special edition of Time (written for this event). He wrote that humans -- but especially journalists -- want to find reasons.
It is easier to cope with things that are understandable, and understanding requires the sense of control that reason (in this case, prevention) brings with it.
So we rid ourselves of confusion by resorting to the political arguments we know so well.
But cutting the Arizona shooting in half to fit black-and-white party debates with no definite solutions doesn't do justice to anyone -- not Gabrielle Giffords, not John Roll, not anyone.
It wasn't that simple or easy to explain. If it had been, the issues up for debate (yet again) between the left and right wings would not exist.
Our party politics are deceptive, because they are binary lines of arguments that tend not to be conducive to reality.
We try to fit our ideologies into them as best we can, but real-life occurrences require a more global look at us as a people.
Jon Stewart once said, "Crazy always finds a way." Upon realizing how cynical this sounded, he searched for a more positive approach, and followed up with "All we can do is continue to be horrified."
I think he hit on something really valuable.
This event was not preventable in the short run. If it had been, it would have been prevented.
It is nonetheless an absolutely appalling and devastating thing to have had happen, and as long as we recognize that, then our national population has retained its humanity.
We may not have been able to stop the shooting from happening, but if we embrace our disgust and sadness then we can at least stop its normalization.