Stories have always been designed to entertain, inform, educate and persuade. Stories also have the power to gain momentum and public opinion that can change lives as well as laws.
For example, the MADD movement began with the tragic death story of a 13-year-old girl named, Cari Lightner, who was killed by a drunk driver. It was Cari’s mother, Candace, who decided that she would make her story known with the hope to help other families from experiencing her loss and tragedy. From 1980 to present, MADD has seen a 55% reduction in drunk driving causalities.
In 1996, it would be the story of the kidnapping and brutal murder of seven-year-old Kelly Megan that would create a new Federal law—The Megan Law. Later, in 2016, President Obama, advanced and signed into effect the International Megan’s Law to Prevent Child Exploitation and other Sexual Crimes Through Advanced Notification of Traveling Sex Offenders.
On April 20, 1999, 15 students were massacred by two students with automatic weapons. In addition to the 15 dead, 20 students were wounded. Since the Columbine High School Massacre, 31 related school shootings have occurred in the US with 18 reported just this year alone.
The cold-blooded murders that occurred recently at Douglas High School has been globally reported weakly as the “Florida shooting” or “Douglas H.S. shooting.” The debates and arguments started immediately, with one side proposing the elimination of all Assault Weapons, while its opposition argued that the real issue is centering on mental health. Suddenly, the victim’s story has been sadly put aside.
I wonder why the media has chosen not to use the word massacre? 17 human beings, 14 young people and 3 adults were murdered in cold blood. Twenty-three wounded. The definition of the word, ‘massacre’ means: an indiscriminate and brutal slaughter of people. Because this was more than just a shooting—it was, by definition, a massacre.
To change the reality, you need to change the story.
In a previous blog” Getting Results,” I commented on the 1929 Valentine’s Day Massacre, which happened in the city of Chicago, where seven gang members were executed by a rival gang posing as police officers. Five years, a new Federal law was passed, The National Firearms Act. This law removed the Thompson Submachine Gun off the streets.
The difference between Columbine, twenty years ago, and today, is social media. Twenty years ago, you got your news from newspapers and television. Today, social media brings stories to life in real time. Another difference was back in 1996, cell phones were only phones. Today, they’re portable broadcast studios connected to a global network.
Like the 1929 Valentine Massacre, the 2018 Valentine Massacre is picking up momentum to change public opinions and maybe even laws. That in part is due to the number of people using Social Media to read and tell the same story from a different perspective. The lines may be drawn, but you can be sure this story is still developing itself towards change.