Is Shamu Packing Heat?

Some years back the Orlando Sentinel declared war on the region’s largest employer, the engine of the area’s economic success, the tourism industry. The Sentinel ranked tourism right up there with citrus blight and category 5 hurricanes as a threat to Orlando’s well being.

This editorial stance so outraged local tourism officials that hotelier Harris Rosen for a while banned the Sentinel from being sold in his hotels.

Times (and editors) changed and today the Sentinel’s tourism coverage, by Scott Powers, Dewayne Bevil, and others is first rate. Yes, the paper still goes ga-ga when one of the gazillions of visitors WDW sees each year has a heart attack. (I wonder why we never see a headline that reads “Man Reads Sentinel in Morning, Drops Dead At Noon”?)

Still, the Sentinel does an excellent job of covering the tourism scene.

Then you see a headline like this — SeaWorld worker arrested in connection with shooting — and you begin to wonder.

The incident in question happened miles away from SeaWorld, in Polk County fer cryin’ out loud. It apparently involved a purely domestic dispute with unruly teenagers. It had zero to do with the shooter’s… excuse me alleged shooter’s employment.

So why is SeaWorld in the headline? The article doesn’t even tell us what he does at SeaWorld. Is he a major executive? (My guess is no.) Does he have any contact with the public? Does he work with children? Did he shout “This one’s for Shamu” when he pulled the trigger? Is the Sentinel telling us that SeaWorld employees are violent? Are we supposed to think that if we go to SeaWorld we will be in danger of getting shot by some wacko on the payroll? Is Shamu packing heat?

I just don’t get it.

A cursory search of the Sentinel for reports of other shooting incidents showed that they usually use terms like “Gunman” or “Lake County man” to identify shooters in the headline. But apparently when the alleged perpetrator works for a theme park it’s worthy of being enshrined in the boldface type.

Like I say, I just don’t get the journalistic line of reasoning that makes a non-fatal incident involving a (presumably minor) theme park employee, one that happened miles away from the theme park, worthy of this kind of “guilt by association” treatment.

Can someone out there enlighten me?

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