In the aftermath of tragedy, a little empathy won’t kill us

I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before but events in the news warrant its return. When my father in law, a fairly prominent businessperson in western Massachusetts, died some years ago, his death warranted front-page treatment in the regional newspaper and, of course, on the web site.

He had run for Congress once (and lost) and so he was fair game, some people must have thought, for their judgement. And so the first comment in the last story of his life that people will ever write was “Good. May he be the first of many Republicans to die.”

How nice.

That same mentality is at play in the Twin Cities this week because their demise came after they were struck by a blue line light-rail train in Minneapolis.

On Friday, Jason M. McCormick, 29, of Minneapolis, was hit and killed at the 46th Street station while on his bicycle. Another man was struck and injured at the same location yesterday.

Even on some of the “tamer” Facebook pages, there’s a certain “serves them right” mentality at work, not at all different from other stories in which great pain is taken to tell us that a driver killed in a crash wasn’t wearing a seatbelt or a bicyclist didn’t have a helmet.

From an education point of view, perhaps there’s value in that. But it’s a thin line to shaming a victim who, in most cases, is dead.

That’s why Nora McInerny Purmort’s Facebook post last night should be required reading for the humans who walk among us.