At least someone understands
Killed in the line of duty
By CHRIS BRENNAN
Posted 19 days ago
Did you hear about it or read about it? There's a good chance you probably didn't.
It wasn't in the Expositor. In was in the National Post, buried on page A10 in a column two inches wide and eight inches long.
I'm speaking of the death of two Sudbury miners on Wednesday, June 8.
Now just imagine if it had been two police officers or firefighters who had been killed. It would have been front-page news across the country.
Why is that?
Is it because being a cop or firefighter is such a dangerous occupation? The only problem with this explanation is that it isn't true. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2009 the 10 most dangerous jobs in America were:
1. Logging. 2. Aircraft pilot. 3. Fishers. 4. Iron and steel workers. 5. Garbage collectors. 6. Farmers and ranchers. 7. Roofers. 8. Power line installers/repairers. 9. Truckers and drivers/sales workers. 10. Taxi drivers and chauffeurs.
So why is it when a logger or miner or fisher or farmer dies it rarely makes the news, but there's a big hullabaloo when it's a cop or firefighter?
I'll venture to guess that popular culture has something to do with it. Cops carry guns and deal with criminals. Crime is a staple of books and movies and TV shows. You don't see a lot of movies about fishers hauling in their catch or loggers cutting trees down. It's mundane. Dangerous, but not thrilling. Perhaps if they shot fish with a hand gun or felled trees with a bazooka there would be more movies about them.
Funny thing is, on the grand scale of things , our foremost priorities are food and shelter. So theoretically, when a farmer or fisher (food) or logger or construction worker (shelter) dies on the job we should lament their death equally, if not more. Without them we would literally starve or freeze to death.
Maybe it's got something to do with the idea of "heroism." Chasing down a gun-toting criminal seems "heroic." Rushing into a burning building and emerging with a child seems "heroic."
Plowing a field doesn't conjure images of heroism. Neither does cutting down a tree. Or hauling in a net full of fish.
Nevertheless, the fact of the matter is these endeavors, while not exactly "heroic" or daring, are far more dangerous and potentially lethal than fighting crime or fires.
Cops and firefighters are happy to propagate the myth, especially at contract time, that their jobs are exceedingly dangerous. It's self-serving but disingenuous.
Ah, but they selflessly sacrifice themselves for the "public good." Ditch the martyr complex. Growing broccoli or roofing a house is just as socially beneficial as apprehending a shoplifter.
Another thing: The massive funeral processions for fallen comrades is getting a little stale and self-indulgent.
Enough, already. If every profession or occupation marked the death of one of its members the way cops and firefighters do the streets would be jammed with marching mourners 24 hours a day and the economy would grind to a halt.
Furthermore, an unintended consequence of the big funeral as public spectacle is that it serves to highlight how relatively rare it is when one of them to dies doing their job.
A particular uniform or occupation doesn't entitle one to de facto hero status. All sorts of people in all sorts of jobs do courageous things everyday. So the next time a cop or firefighter dies and it's all over the news take a moment to remember all the other people killed 'in the line of duty' doing jobs that are far more dangerous, but less glamorous. The only difference is you probably didn't read or hear about them.
Chris Brennan's column appears every other Friday.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.