STOCKBRIDGE — My friend Magda was upset with The New York Times reporting of the shooting at the Planned Parenthood shooting in Colorado a few weeks ago, so she wrote a letter to the editor and posted it on Facebook.

"I was astonished to see The Times refer to the casualties in the country's latest mass murder, at Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs as one police officer and two civilians," she wrote.

The term "civilian" is chilling. Whether intentionally or not, it militarizes all of us and suggests that we have been unofficially enrolled in the same kind of never-ending warfare that has engulfed the Middle East and Africa and that is threatening much of the rest of the world.

If citizens are now "civilians" how easily can we too becomes the accidental victims of "targeted strikes" or even, horrific as it sounds, become "collateral damage" as we go about our daily lives, whether our goal is to buy groceries, drive our children to school, or even, as may be the case here, to seek help on matters reproductive?

I trust The Times will rethink the implication of its word choice lest we become inured to this image of ourselves as we rick becoming to the gun violence sweeping this country.

As President Obama has rightly warned us, "this is not normal."

The dictionary defines a civilian as a person who is not a member of the miliary or police, or firefighting force which does define most of us. But Magda is right. We are becoming injured not just to the language describing attacks on innocent people, but to the attacks themselves.


"Another shooting" we hear on the news and are not surprised if there is another the next day. Chaos and death, attackers and assault weapons are words we are increasingly accustomed to reading and hearing in the news.

President Obama is right. This isn't normal, but unfortunately, it is quickly becoming the new normal. The San Bernadino killers pledging their affiliation to ISIS is just as dangerous as an assault weapon.

Michelle Gillett is a regular Eagle contributor.