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Opening Arguments

Crazed Vietnam vet vents

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are making the news lately. Besides the Indianapolis guy in the police standoff, today we read about two more. First is this story from Winchester:

An eastern Indiana Iraq War veteran accused of shooting at sheriff's deputies is being held on $500,000 bond.

And this is from Muncie:

A 21-year-old war veteran fatally shot himself while watching a zombie movie in a Muncie, Ind., theater with two of his brothers and a friend, police said.

Note that the veteran status is the very first item mentioned in both stories. There's loony war veterans on the loose -- everybody hide!

That's not to say their status as war veterans is unimportant. The after-effects of their service likely contributed to their mental conditions. But let's not get into such sloppy reporting that people start thinking all vets are walking time bombs waiting to go off. Stories about crazed Vietnam vets used to annoy the hell out of me. A lot of people have problems with the way certain things are reported, as in "Rapist strikes on the south side," as if the north side is always free of perverts, or "Black criminal at large," so be wary of every black person you run into. This one is my particular provocation.


Wed, 10/14/2009 - 12:04pm

I see what you mean, but in these cases, the fact they were veterans seems to have been relevant to the stories. The Randolph County story (at least the version I read) had a family member attributing the guy's action to PTSD. In the Muncie story, the guy had, shortly before the suicide, told the manager at the movies about killing 18 people.

Leo Morris
Wed, 10/14/2009 - 1:46pm

As I said, their veteran status is not unimportant. But there's a cumulative effect of the way the stories are reported. I remember a tipping point being reached re the Vietnam vets, and it seems to me we're getting close to one with the modern-era ones.