Voices: All human life should be treated equally

By Tim Sinclair

People are impacted by the unexpected. Humans are most likely to react (laugh, scream, cry, etc.) when something occurs that they didn't see coming. Just ask any comedian, film director or marketing executive. When the audience thinks they know what's coming — boom — they give them something else. Emotion ensues.

Last December, 26 people lost their lives in Newtown, Conn. America reacted. In a matter of hours, our country changed forever. In fact, before the caskets of these precious people were even closed, legislators in Washington were working behind closed doors to tighten gun control laws, secure our schools, and offer help to the troubled souls who might contemplate such heinous acts in the future.

Last December, 26 people also lost their lives in Chicago, Illinois. America did not react. Not only did these homicides avoid making waves on Capitol Hill, but they weren't even mentioned outside of the Chicago-area media.

In reality, December 2012 was a safety success for the Windy City. Not since March of 2011 had there been so few murders in a month (22). There are mountains of evidence for the gravity of Chicago's situation, but perhaps the most damning is this: the death toll in five of America's worst mass-shootings (Sandy Hook, Columbine, the "Batman" movie, Fort Hood and Virginia Tech) is 97. Chicago has eclipsed that number since Thanksgiving.

Surprise is a powerful thing. Surprise elicits emotion. Surprise sells magazines. Surprise demands changes that the status-quo does not.

Surprise is why we get wall-to-wall news coverage of Newtown, and no mention of Chi-town. Surprise is why President Obama will be outlining a plan for new gun control laws during his State of the Union address this year, barely two months after 20 children and six adults were gunned down in Connecticut. And a lack of surprise is why President Obama wasn't giving the very same speech four years ago after 30 kids and 50 adults were killed in his hometown between the election and the inauguration.

Change is needed in America, to be sure, but the change we ultimately need is something that can't be found in any capital. It's impossible to legislate human decency. It's narrow-minded to think that new laws will alter our collective apathy toward inner-city violence. And it's futile to combat a problem that is only seen as a problem when there is sensationalism or shock value behind it.

America must place equal value on human life. All human life. Red, yellow, black and white. Rich, poor, schooled and street-smart. Young, old, near-death and not-yet-born. Life was once recognized by the majority of this country as both God-given and Constitutionally protected, but no longer. Far from it.

Back in 1776, all men were (theoretically) created equal. Today, people have worth if and only if their story can help perpetuate a political narrative or turn on a few televisions — and, on the whole, you and I have accepted it. This societal double standard is killing our children, it's corrupting our culture and it's forfeiting our future. But it isn't surprising ... and perhaps that's the problem.

Tim Sinclair is part of WBGL radio's morning show and a public address announcer for many Illini sporting events. You'll hear him throughout the year at Illinois women's basketball, wrestling, softball, gymnastics and swimming events.

Sections (2):Editorials, Opinion
Categories (2):Editorials, Opinions

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Sid Saltfork wrote on February 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Mr. Sinclair must have been busy covering sporting events this week, and in the past.  He must have missed the President's comments on gun violence besides Sandy Hook Elementary.  He must have missed The First Lady, and her daughters attending the teen's funeral in Chicago this week.  Gun violence has increased over the past four years; esspecially this past year.  Guns control has the NRA supported by the gun manufacturers, the Second Amendment misguided, and the anti-Obama groupies as a powerful enemy.  Any reference to reasonable gun regulations would have been hooted down during the president's first term.  This is his last term.  He is not seeking re-election.  This is the time for him to get some, even minor, gun regulations.  He may not get a ban on assault guns, and high capacity magazines; but he may get an updated national data base with restrictions on guns getting into the wrong hands.  Sadly, Mr. Sinclair's opinion has nothing to do with the discussion of reasonable gun regulations.  It only is a thinly, veiled attempt to discredit the President.  Well; he is a radio talk show host, and a sports announcer.  What does your auto mechanic, physician, dentist, barber, or co-workers think about reasonable gun regulations? Any response from Mr. Sinclair on his radio show will be wasted on me since I do not listen to him.

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 10, 2013 at 2:02 pm

And how does he feel about SCOTUS overturning Chicago's handgun ban?

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Sports Commentators Opposed To Unarmed Society?  Mr. Sinclair is a radio talk show host, and a sports announcer.  He is a Talking Head posing as a media columnist today.  People should not assume that News Readers, or Talk Show Hosts are knowledgeable in what they are talking about.  Your co-workers, or auto mechanic maybe more knowledgeable.  The pulpit of public media allows Talking Heads to spout their opinions without knowledge, or facts.

BeckyS wrote on February 10, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Regardless of opinions on gun regulations, I think we can all agree with the author's statement that "It's impossible to legislate human decency." Criminals will always find a way to get a gun. Drug addicts will always find a way to get their next fix. We as individuals must take responsibility for our own actions, teach those who don't know better the difference between right and wrong, and hold others accountable for their actions. It must start with each of us. Mr. Sinclair, thank you for giving me something to think - and pray - about.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Thinking, and praying about gun regulations is fine; but doing something about it is needed.  No, criminals will not always find a way to get a gun.  Someone has to sell the gun to them.  There are way too many guns being used by criminals than the guns reported stolen.  It appears that the only thing significant Mr. Sinclair stated was "It's impossible to legislate human decency."  Mr. Sinclair did not advocate an upgraded national data base on gun sales.  He did not advocate that the same laws applied to gun stores be the same for gun shows.  He did not even advocate enforcing the existing strict laws on illegal gun holders.  He did attempt to discredit the man asking Congress for stricter gun regulations.  Mr. Sinclair used the high murder rate in Chicago; but he gave no reasons for it beyond "It's impossible to legislate human decency."  Your right; it does start with each of us.  We need to think about it, pray about, and do something about it.  Sorry; but Mr. Sinclair's opinion amounted to words with no substance, or objective beyond discrediting the President who is trying to do something about reasonable gun regulations.   

A Reader wrote on February 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm

It seems to me, upon reading the article and comments, that Mr. Sinclair's point is that our society as a whole has turned a blind eye and a hard heart to a greater need for appreciation of ANY life lost.  I do not think his point was to draw out our current President's rights and wrongs.  I do not think his point was to outline gun control shoulds and shouldn'ts.  But instead I think the heart of this article is to draw out the PEOPLE who should have a significant say in our society...for this presidential term and the next and the next.  How will WE respond to the lives our country is losing?  I don't think Mr. Sinclair's day jobs demote his opinion and ability to see the point that the title alludes to: that ALL life should be valued. 

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 10, 2013 at 9:02 pm

Well if that was his intent, he used an abundance of words with various turns to give a very simple comment on something that most everyone has already acknowledged.  How many words would it take him to state "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"?