MURRELL COLUMN: An escape amid desensitized society

Published 6:37 pm Friday, December 4, 2015

We’re entering a point in our country’s history where instances of mass shootings are so much a common occurrence that a large part of our society is desensitized to them.

It’s so much so that, at least in one sporting event I’ve been to since Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California — are you not grabbed by the words “mass shooting” anymore? — not even a moment of silence was taken to mourn the 14 people who were shot dead at a holiday party.

Whether it’s politically correct or incorrect to pause, wouldn’t that have been automatic just five years ago? You know, to show that sanctity of life still reigns in America?

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    To Pete Pranica, it does.

    He’s the television voice of my favorite NBA team, the Memphis Grizzlies. During the pregame of Lamar’s most recent home game against Texas-Rio Grande Valley, which by the way was on the night of the shooting, Pranica gave those living under a rock a dose of humanity with this simple Tweet:

    “The root cause of all this tragedy is the utter disregard for the sanctity of human life.”

    Utter. Disregard. For the sanctity. Of human life. Let all those fragments sink in.

    I asked him: How much does mental illness play a part in it?

    “Varies from case to case,” he said. “Not all these mass shootings were carried out by mentally ill people.”

    If you’ve followed the news lately, you know the FBI is investigating the shooting as an act of terrorism. The Associated Press has reported, citing a U.S. law enforcement official, the woman who helped her husband carry out the attack pledged her allegiance to the terrorist group known as the Islamic State. I’ll let you do the rest of the research.



    Terrorism. Why, I’ll be a son of a biscuit.

    Hate or no hate for America, mental disturbances or not, gun laws or not, terrorism rears its ugly head, and it doesn’t discriminate among its victims or reasons for its very existence.

    As a technologically advanced country, we often rush to fight for the end of terrorism, as we should. How often we examine the factors for the increase in terrorism, I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that’s taking place.

    I do know there are enough experts on this issue who take every possible factor into account. You guessed it; I’m not one of them.

    I’m not just a sports editor, either. I’m a red-blooded American fortunate enough to enjoy the freedoms for which veterans and citizens alike have fought for centuries.

    But when the sanctity of human life, Pranica pointed out — let alone the sanity of it — is threatened in any fashion, we must be called to give pause.

    More often than we realize, major sports events react to this. The sports world was quick to offer its solidarity with Paris in the wake of tragedy there. Pro and major-college teams, at least, did the same for San Bernardino.

    I immediately thought about the California-Riverside basketball team that just visited Lamar three days before the shooting. UC Riverside is just 14 miles southwest of San Bernardino.



    Make no doubt about it, sports leads the way in helping Americans look for an outlet from all the madness. As I mature, I remember to keep sports as a reservoir in my life, not outdoing that of the good Lord, rather than a job.

    With the improvements in technology itself and that within the news-disseminating business, who wants to hear of tragedies like in San Bernadino? I don’t. And I’m in the media business. Have been since my days at Arkansas-Monticello.

    But when society evolves to the point that we at the very least appear to be desensitized from real-life violence, is that not enough cause to pause for a moment?

    It wasn’t at one game I attended. The political (in)correctness of it doesn’t matter, but not so long ago, it did.

    Oh, don’t let the events of San Bernardino, the threats of riots in Houston or Chicago, or any maddening thing that has defined stop us from just turning to basketball, dining out or anything. No, we Americans know how to stay on the good foot.

    Let’s just not be desensitized to the point we won’t pause anymore. Because we can.

    I.C. Murrell can be reached at 721-2435 or On Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews.

    About I.C. Murrell

    I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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