God, we in the media get conned into participating in idiotic discussions. Like the latest nonsense out of Toronto following the deadly shooting on the weekend at the Eaton Centre. Let’s all heave a sigh of relief because it turns out the shooting spree that killed one person, seriously injured a 13 year old boy and wounded five others, including a pregnant woman wasn’t gang -related. So an apparent deliberate homicide, possible a revenge hit for a stabbing  operates on a lesser scale of seriousness, even though innocent people were hurt, because the shooting wasn’t gang-related. To me it was a distinction without a difference until I heard almost every newscast lead with the breathless news that–yes the victim and the perpetrator were members of the same gang, and yes there was indiscriminate gun play that cleared the Eaton Centre and forced it to shut down for the day, but at least, according to Toronto Police, it wasn’t gang-related; and for that we can all go back downtown knowing that somehow we are safer than if it had, god forbid, been gang related. The crime doesn’t qualify as gang-related, because the two young men were in the SAME gang and had a personal grievance between them. To be truly  gang-related , apparently, would require that the random acts of violence be perpetrated by members of at least two gangs against each other. The real question is this–what is the difference between people getting caught in the crossfire between two gangs, and people getting caught in the crossfire of a man with murderous intent? It is, as we used to put it crudely in my old TV newsroom, a prime example of picking fly-shit out of pepper.

John Best has had a lengthy media management career, in television and radio and now print. As Vice President, News at CHCH in Hamilton, John oversaw a significant expansion of the news operation. He founded Independent Satellite News, Canada’s only television news service providing national content to Canadian independent TV stations. John is a frequent political commentator on radio and television, a documentary producer and author of a book and numerous articles on historical and political subjects. John is a past recipient of the New York Festival’s award for writing in the International TV category.

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