When a major act of violence takes place, regardless of whether or not it has extensive media coverage, the people that witness or hear about it can sometimes identify and relate to either the victims or the perpetrators. In three different stories, acts of violence are all defining characteristics of how the general population react. The first story, “How To Tell A True War Story” by Tim O’Brien discusses the difficulties associated with trying to explain to people what being in war feels like when O’Brien tells a woman about brutal events that took place while he was serving in the Vietnam war. In the next story, “The Power of Context” by Malcolm Gladwell, he talks about crime on the New York subway system and preventative methods to lower the crime rates on the trains and subway platforms. One event in particular was about a man who shot four teenagers that had criminal records who were pestering the man when he got on the subway in the projects and was actually portrayed by many people in the community as a vigilante. The last story, “Losing Matt Shepard” by Beth Loffreda, the brutal and violent attack that eventually lead to the death of a homosexual student at the University of Wyoming named Matt Shepard that caused a media uproar, bringing attention to people on both sides of the spectrum, ranging from other LGBTQ community members to radical anti-homosexuality groups like the Westboro Baptist Church and other religious organizations. Different factors affect the way we do or do not identify with perpetrators and victims of violent acts in a variety of 2
ways depending on what they believe. If the relatable characteristic of the victim is a hot button issue in society, it is easier to identify with the victim. When identifying with the perpetrator, it depends on how violent or radical a person’s beliefs are to feel justification for the violence committed as well as how violent the actual crime that was committed happens to be.
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