My tragedy is more tragic than yours

Gener vigilIs there such a thing as ‘worse’ when all bad things are bad?

NYC logged another (potential?) bias attack this past week. In a brief conversation with someone about this, I mentioned the victim was a Filipino journalist. This was more or less (more) the conversation that followed:

Them: “A journalist here from the Philippines? Or a journalist from here of Filipino descent?”

Me: [Confused.] “So, either way, he’s a Filipino journalist.”

Them: “Well, if he was a journalist who came here all the way from the Philippines and this happened to him, then that seems more tragic than if he was a guy from New York that this happened to – no matter what his background.”

Me: “So you’re saying, while it would still be bad, it would be less tragic if it was some homeless guy who lives at that corner who got mercilessly beaten and left for dead, rather than this guy who came from another country just to get beaten up in NY?”

Them: “Aaaargh!”

How that specific conversation ended is not important. The conversation in my head is what’s occupying my Monday (that and my super-important work, of course). I’m not sure there is such a thing as more tragic.  Because, if we say that when a bad thing happens under a specific condition, then it is more tragic, aren’t we just saying that when that bad thing happens under the opposite condition, it is less tragic? If a single woman gets raped, is that not as tragic as when a single mother gets raped?  Is it worse for….oh, the list of horrors goes on in my head….

Aren’t all bad things bad things?