On Borderline … and Less-Known Tragedies



By George Miller

The heartbreak of the Borderline shooting in Thousand Oaks occurred one year ago Thursday at a Country Western dance bar of the same name. It’s been so well-publicized that we shouldn’t have to remind you that a deranged shooter killed 12 people, including the death of a very brave hero VC Sheriff’s Dept. Deputy Sergeant Ron Helus. He quickly arrived on the scene and ran into danger to stop it, was shot by the perpetrator, but killed by “friendly fire.”

The outpouring of sympathy and support for the victims was like nothing we have ever seen before in the county, with the possible exception of those affected by the terrible fires, some of which happened almost simultaneously last year. Fundraiser after fundraiser, celebrations of life, vigils, etc. were conducted. It helped a bit to ease the grief. 

This is all excellent- to see huge support over the last year and watch the community and outside areas come together for “Thousand Oaks Strong.” But over the period this was happening, about 15  people were murdered in nearby Oxnard. Outside of press releases, the occasional human interest story, funeral, or Go Fund Me page, not all that much, except by immediate family/friends, was done to lament their deaths, celebrate their lives or raise money for the bereaved. Most passed largely unmourned by society.

Meanwhile, thousands more people were murdered in Chicago, Baltimore, Washington, DC and other places, with approximately the same results.

I had to ask myself, why such an outpouring for Borderline, but not so much for mass deaths and mostly lonely funerals in Oxnard, Chicago, Baltimore, DC and other places?

Well some have said it is about “race”- the Thousand Oaks victims were “white privilege” kids and Oxnard ones mostly “brown.” But friends, family and community of “brown” kids care just as much about their bereaved as white folks and, increasingly, the “media.”

A friend said it was because of the large number of people killed all at once having more shock value. Good point, but don’t thousands annually- 1, 2 or more at a time have shock value- or at least shouldn’t they? It was Joseph Stalin who said “a single death is a tragedy, a million deaths are a statistic.

But, the real difference is media treatment. Borderline was a made-to-order (not literally, I would say) for media or Hollywood event. Young people having a good time in a popular local club in a relatively peaceful town, until a nutcase barges in, mass murder results and then the on-scene hero dies tragically in a hail of bullets, followed by the shooter self-eliminating when things get too hot to handle, all the while 10 cops were there. You couldn’t make up a better story. Thousand Oaks is also a more well-connected place, nearer to LA, lots of media/Hollywood people there.

Meanwhile, people in Oxnard are killed for small sums of money, drugs, gangs, domestic or romantic situations gone bad, or just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I have seen hundreds of press releases on these in Oxnard and elsewhere as publisher of this newspaper. I don’t know how the police can stay sane seeing these tragedies over and over, far more close up than we do.

How about fellow media people considering this… Murders are actually down by half since 1992. That’s right- and shootings have actually decreased radically, but one would never know it from the stories that media- newspapers, TV, magazines, movies- produce. But mass shootings are actually up- not as much as media claim- but up. Why so? Why are mass shootings up while overall murders and shootings are way, way down? Could it be because of the huge publicity, even glorification, of these damnable events by media? They give perpetrators their 15 minutes of fame and opportunities to air their causes (notice we never mentioned the perp’s name here and won’t). Do Media which want stories to bring in more readers/viewers? Do media and other public figures use it to push their gun control agendas? Media are not doing society a favor by obsessing, even glorifying these crimes.

The Borderline victims’ families deserve whatever people will do for them, but I’m gonna ask people to pay more attention to the forgotten victims/families, too. Will you?


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal.

George Miller is Publisher/Co-Founder of CitizensJournal.us and a “retired” operations management consultant residing in Oxnard.

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2 Responses to On Borderline … and Less-Known Tragedies

  1. Mark Savalla November 14, 2019 at 11:30 am

    Very fine commentary George. I commented on one Facebook article that it would have been a different outcome if the place had not been a “gun free zone” Just one of the ten cops in there could have made a big difference. I was called a bunch of names for my “insensitivity”. I can live with that.

    • Citizen Reporter November 14, 2019 at 11:34 am

      “Insensitivity?” I agree with you, Mark- It sounds more like common sense to me.


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