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Miami massacre: The worst aspect of this horrific killing spree is a lack of public outrage


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By any measurements it was a horrific crime. Gerardo Regalado, a 38-year-old Floridian, burst into a restaurant in the Miami suburb of Hialeah, and shot his wife dead. Then, ignoring several male potential targets, he proceeded to pump bullets into six more women. Three of them died. The killer then stalked out of the diner and drove a few blocks before killing himself.

The awful carnage was caught on videotape by a security camera. It is a terrible thing to watch as the women run through the restaurant pursued by the relentless Regalado who does not hesitate to shoot. But there was one thing the massacre did not catch: the public imagination.

The most shocking thing about the Hialeah killings was the collective yawn given to them by the American media. Unlike the British media after the recent massacre in Cumbria, there was no collective national soul-searching. There was no parade of reporters heading to the crime scene from all over the country. It was just another day in America. If newspapers outside Florida carried the story, it was relegated to the inside pages.

It seems that America, so often beset by mass shootings and serial killers, is becoming steadily immune to the violence. Neither the public nor the media is especially interested any more. They appear to be subject to a dreadful phenomenon of one-upmanship where only the most dreadful and awful of crimes will now generate significant media attention. After all, if walking into a restaurant and shooting seven women is not enough to generate national news, what is? What does any self-respecting mass killer have to do these days to get attention?

Yet, ironically, this is happening in the middle of a nationwide decline in violent crime across America. The latest FBI statistics show that violent crime went down 5.5% in 2009 compared with the year before: the third yearly drop in a row. That figure covers murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Even the larger cities, which one would expect to be hit hard by the economic crisis, have seen a drop in the murder rate of 7.2%. That is good news. But, given the public apathy that greeted the Regalado shootings, one wonders if the damage to society has already been done. The one thing worse than a society that gives rise to killers like Regalado is one that ignores them as not especially newsworthy.

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