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Friday, April 19, 2013


On Monday, the marathon bombing killed 3 and injured 170. On Thursday, the blast at the Texas fertilizer plant killed up to 15 people and injured 180. The parallel -- but slightly elevated -- number of casualties in Texas almost seemed to be trying, in a perverse twist of timing, to supersede the importance of those in Boston.

To the people affected, both tragedies hit equally hard. If you've lost a leg, that affects the rest of your life the same way, regardless of how you've lost it. And to the people who've lost loved ones, their mourning will be just as sorrowful either way, even if up in Boston the sadness will be mixed with anger.

(I've heard all sorts of calls "for prayers" for the victims of the Boston bombing; as yet, I've hear none for the victims of the Texas explosion, though they are suffering just as much.)

One of the tragedies involved the type of people that reader of the NY Times know: people who live in big cities and who run, or cheer for those who run, road races. And it involves a threat to such readers, since we all go to crowded places, and terrorism can strike anywhere. The other affects bunch of people living in a place Times readers would likely never go, 20 miles north of Waco, Texas.

One tragedy will add fuel to the national debate on immigration, and ethnic and religious profiling, and be talked about for months to come. The other, the media will soon forget.

I'm not even suggesting that it should be otherwise. The Boston bombing is far more of a human interest story: it involves human perfidy, and personal character, and touches on national policy.

The other just goes into the "shit happens" category, soon to be forgotten by all but those directly affected.

But the fertilizer plant explosion did serve as a reminder -- however temporary -- that tragedy comes in all shapes and sizes, and from all directions.

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