Four of the victims in last week’s Aurora massacre were killed while shielding their girlfriends from gunfire with their own bodies — the ultimate demonstration of love and sacrifice. While others celebrate their humanity-affirming selflessness, the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto wonders whether the hero boyfriends made the right call.
It’s an odd question — were they worthy? — because they were clearly worthy to the boyfriends who died saving them. That’s all that matters. Whether they are good people who donate money to charity or volunteer at homeless shelters, or whatever else Taranto has in mind when he uses the word worthy, seems irrelevant.
Update: Taranto is sorry:
We intended this to be thought-provoking, but to judge by the response, very few people received it that way. The vast majority found it offensive and insulting. This column has often argued that a failure of public communication is the fault of the public communicator, and that’s certainly true in this case.
What Taranto claims he was trying to say (but didn’t say) was:
These three women owe their lives to their men. That debt can never be repaid in kind, because life is for the living and cannot be returned to the dead. The closest they can come to redeeming it is to use the gift of their survival well–to live good, full, happy lives.
People live on after death in the memories of those who loved them. Sometimes when this columnist does something we consider worthwhile, our thoughts turn to our father, who died four years ago: “Dad would be proud.” That is our hope for Young, Yowler and Lindgren: that in the years to come, each of them will have many opportunities to reflect that Jon or Matt or Alex would be proud of her.
In other words, Taranto Hanks is telling the girlfriends, “Earn this.” Fair enough.