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Ex nihilo nihil fit

Ex nihilo nihil fit

There were no words, I thought, after this weekend’s tragedy in Allen, Texas that would express the frustration and hopelessness that rises from an endless chain of tragedies that just keep on repeating in this country.

However, to say nothing is not a fitting tribute or legacy as a response to these incidents, so I’ll speak my mind instead. I was heartened to hear the response from Allied Universal speaking out about the incident in memory of its fallen employee, security professional Christian LaCour. Imagine then my disappointment in the follow-up statement from CEO Steve Jones who goes on to assert that the media has an agenda to smear the character of security guards and fails to report on their heroic actions.

As someone who has spent several years reporting not solely on just one industry but news in general, let me tell you how petty and meaningless those words are. Not the assertion that we either don’t print enough of one story or too much of another - that complaint is as old as the written word and just as hollow. You can write as many stories as you want about girl scouts cleaning up highways, people won’t remember or read them.

What sticks in my craw is assigning heroic status to a group of people, any people really. I had a professor once who lamented the way the word “epic” had entered the modern vernacular, rendering the word ordinary and meaningless in context. So too in a post 9/11 world does the word "hero" come with a nebulous and empty promise: Police are heroes, soldiers are heroes, nurses are heroes, a submarine sandwich is a hero. A hero is a poorly maintained statue in a park.

What Mr. Jones and I can agree on is that security guards aren’t perfect, they’re human beings. That is both a fulfilling and satisfying enough answer for me. I don’t know whether Christian LaCour was a hero, but he was a human being entitled to the same promise of health and happiness we all deserve. I know that he had family and friends that loved him and being taken at 20 years old has cheated them of his presence and his potential. I may not agree with everything that Mr. Jones said in his response to the violence, but in issuing a statement he has offered a voice from the industry. 

I have more to say on this topic than I have room to share it. So, I’ll sum up my thoughts here as best I can. If you want to offer something to overworked and underappreciated security personnel then encouraging words are lovely, but far better to reward their increasingly dangerous service with something they can use. If you want to offer a critique on media coverage of security personnel, the incident where the gunman is also a security guard isn’t the best hill to die on.

There’s eight other people already there.


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