What counts as terror?
Last Saturday in London, three men ran over and then stabbed dozens of people, killing eight, and it was an act of international terrorism. In Orlando, Fla., the next Monday, a disgruntled ex-employee shot dead five of his former colleagues, and it was another day in America.
Such is the way some Times letter writers say this newspaper and other media outlets treated the two attacks. Over the last weak, readers have been asking why there’s a sharp discrepancy between the coverage of the two incidents despite the similar casualty counts; once such letter has already been printed, touching off more discussion on what acts of violence count as terrorism.
— Paul Thornton, letters editor
Ir vine resident Victoria Reiser puts the risk to Americans posed by terrorism in perspective:
We continue to headline terror attacks by foreign extremists who use knives and vehicles as weapons, zeroing in on the attackers’ origins and extreme Islamist views.
Meanwhile, in the back pages and with far less bravado, we report our home-grown national terrorism
by native citizens wielding legal handguns and knives.
Facts are clearly less sensational than newspaper headlines, no matter how many times we read them. As reported by Business Insider, the lifetime odds of being killed in an assault using a gun are 1 in 358; in an attack by a foreign-born terrorist, 1 in 45,808; in an attack by a refugee terrorist, 1 in 46,192,893; and in an attack by an illegal immigrant terrorist, 1 in 138,324,873.
Responding to a letter to the editor, Flo Ginsburg of Santa Monica explains why not all acts of mass killing deser ve to be called terrorism:
In the June 8 Times, Frank Ferrone of El Cajon suggests that the one-off massacre by a U.S. Army veteran in Orlando be deemed terrorism.
Terrorist acts are done to put fear into people’s psyche for the future. It is an ideological act to make people submit through fear to their future demands. It is building a history of terrorist acts in order to try to control the future. This is far different from a one-off attack by, say, an angry former employee, no matter how many are killed in the event.
It is true that some workplace violence is terrorism. However, that can usually be identified by the perpetrator, who will often announce his intention in order to help build that layer of fear that may make us bow to the future demands of people who share his ideology.
Allen F. Dziuk of Carlsbad takes a much broader view of what terrorism is:
It is refreshing that The Times has readers observant enough as letter writer Ferrone.
How did a report on the killing in Orlando end up buried inside The Times while another piece on a nut chasing a cop in Paris with a hammer landed on the front page?
In my book, murder is terrorism; it does not matter if it is committed by an Islamic State martyr wearing a explosive vest or an American citizen who is angry over losing his job and picks up a gun.
INVESTIGATORS gather at the scene of the attack near Orlando. The shooter was a former employee.