Saturday, December 27, 2008

On Crime Reporting

The descriptions of the Christmas Eve mass killing in California often include something of this sort:

COVINA - A man who showed up in a Santa outfit and killed nine people in a fiery bloodbath at his former in-law's Christmas Eve party had reached a divorce settlement with his ex-wife just days earlier and was struggling financially since losing his aerospace job five months ago.

Bruce Jeffrey Pardo, 45, owed ex-wife Sylvia Pardo $10,000 as part of a divorce agreement reached Dec. 18, according to court documents that detailed a bitter split. He also lost a dog he doted upon and did not get back a valuable wedding ring.

"No counseling or delay could help restore this marriage," the settlement stated. "There are irreconcilable differences which have led to the complete breakdown of the marriage."

I'm trying to recall if these types of explanatory paragraphs have been common in the past when describing horrendous crimes. As if those events made murder the obvious next step.

It's not meant that way, of course, and I know it. Still, there's something awkward about reporting the divorce and the job loss without any commentary by an expert who would point out that thousands of people have bad divorces and lose their jobs and still don't go out and slaughter innocent people.