In the year of 2009, on Christmas Eve, a man was stabbed to death in Rhuddlan, a town in North Wales while standing on a street. The cause? You guessed it: a snowball fight. Occurring just days after a police officer in the United States was forced to end a snowball tussle by pulling his gun, it is clear that snowball fighting is a threat to the lives many, and is becoming more and more prevalent across the world. These instances are only two of the three total documented cases in which snowball fights ended with the use of firearms and/or death. The third of these instances? The Boston Massacre.
Most sarcasm aside, it is somewhat tricky to decide whether or not the Boston Massacre was indeed a massacre. A good place to start is analyzing how exactly a massacre is defined: 1. the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty 2. a cruel or wanton murder. (Merriam-Webster) Using words such as unresisting, helpless, and wanton (unprovoked and cruel) these definitions frankly don’t line up with the scenario of the Boston Massacre.
The event actually had a sufficient amount of buildup and in no way were the Bostonians “helpless” or “unresisting” when the troops fired upon them. The participants taunted the soldiers by hitting the Redcoats with snowballs (and supposedly a club), banging on their rifles (whatever that means), and generally just “asking for it”. Even if troops fired upon the Bostonians without proper order, I would classify it strictly as murder, because they had a (somewhat) good reason to fire. Would I have fired? No, but I do know that I wouldn’t have stood in a crowd, taunting my enemies to fire upon me.
By comparing the Boston Massacre to more recent events, it becomes even easier to see the difference between massacres and snowball fights. Events such as the Sandy Hook school shooting and the Aurora, Colorado theatre incident, both of 2012, seem much more dreadful and demonic than the act of soldiers killing five Bostonians in 1770. In Boston, the entire reason the Redcoats were stationed there was to keep things from getting out of hand, and this outburst would qualify. In each of the 2012 incidents, the gunman was deliberate with what he was doing and didn’t have any reason to shoot upon innocent people, other than pure desire.
(NOTE: Any deaths resulting from snowball fighting mentioned throughout this piece are not meant to be taken lightheartedly)
Bailey, Thomas Andrew, David M. Kennedy, and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998. Print.