Another day, another tragedy. Another disturbed young man arms himself and goes on a rampage, only this time, he targets first graders. Let the media feeding frenzy and the crazy talk begin. Pretend that everything else happening in the world does not exist. Pretend that in the inner cities of our country, children of color are not dying every day because of guns. Pretend that, across the world, children are not dying every day because of men with semi-automatic and automatic weapons and our country's use of drones, making war and murder into the kind of video game we like to blame when someone else goes crazy and decides to take out as many people as he can. It's just another isolated crazy, we say. But it's what we don't say that speaks the loudest, at least to me.
Of course, what happened in Connecticut is appalling and terribly sad and maddening, and I do not mean to diminish the significance of the deaths of those 20 children or the deaths and injuries of any of the other people whose lives have been completely changed by any or all of the massacres that keep happening in this country. Nor can I deplore the fact that what happened has actually, finally, caused this nation to finally begin a long-needed conversation about why the hell we care more about protecting guns than we do human life.
Nevertheless, inevitably, something this enormous does serve as an opportunity for idiots to finagle their way onto our TV screens or our social media and say really stupid things with great seriousness and righteous indignation while the pundits put on carefully rehearsed expressions of concern, nod sagely, and encourage them, asking expert after expert why this could have happened. Well, duh. Why do you think it happened? (Psst! Here's a hint. Guns.)
But an interesting picture immediately emerges, and it does seem clear that for so many Americans, this cannot, no way, uh-uh, be about the easy availability of guns and, in particular, assault weapons. We need our guns. We like to hunt, right? We have a right to protect ourselves from lions and tigers and bears, hell yeah. Why, not being able to go down to your local Wal-Mart and stockpile 30 round ammo clips and a few sweet assault rifles to be used in case of Armageddon is tantamount to fascism.
So, among many others, we get the righteous indignation of goobers like Louie Gomert. Seriously. Does he have any idea how irremediably dumb he sounded when he suggested we should arm elementary school teachers with M-4s so they could just go to their locked cabinets at the first sign of trouble in the hallways and cheerfully get out their guns and blow the head off of any school intruder? Oh, yeah, that's a swell idea. Perhaps we could create training camps during the summer where teachers could learn SWAT tactics while they create their lesson plans. And while we're at it, let's teach the kids to shoot, too. And we can give them miniature assault weapons to put in their backpacks just in case.
And then there's good old Mike Huckabee. According to the Huckster, we don't need to blame the easy availability of assault weapons or the pathetic state of our mental health care system for what happened at Sandy Hook. Nope. It's because we don't let God in our schools. According to Huckabee, God is just a wimp; we can ignore him and he'll go away, and then we'll be sorry for being such meanies. Neener neener. You don't pray, so your kids die. Hello, Mr. Huckabee. If you believe in God, you are actually contradicting yourself by even suggesting that there is anywhere God cannot be, but I guess you didn't think about that before you went on the air. Oops. Moreover, as some have pointed out, this does not explain why mass shootings have also happened in churches. Clearly God is present in a church, right? Oops again.
You wouldn't think that Ben Stein and Mike Huckabee have anything in common,but their minds appear to be running on parallel tracks. Stein, in a recent piece that has been floating around on Facebook, takes a bit of a different approach to the same idea as Huck. It's about how we treat God (and that would be badly). However, Stein thinks that God is just such a "gentleman" that he packs up and leaves where he is not wanted. Then, kids get shot. See there. God is just as petty as any human. You don't want me around? Fine. I'm gonna take my marbles and go quietly, and then you'll be sorry. Like, Huckabee, Stein is playing on people's emotions and avoiding a serious discussion of the real problem.
The pundits themselves don't get away without taking
some heat, either, though at least they are actually beginning to address the
issue of gun control head-on. I watch a lot of news and politics, and despite
the fact that the wall-to-wall coverage of this event for so many days has my
eyes crossing, (you'd think they would just run out of things to say eventually
-- and, yes, I realize the irony of my own writing about this well-discussed
topic while complaining about too much coverage of said topic) it has been
informative on more than one level. I've heard some pundits on various networks
smarmily suggesting that this awful event occurred because young Adam Lanza had
Asperger's or that it is because he played video games that he shot his mother
and then decided to take out an elementary school, sidestepping neatly around
the fact that if Mom hadn't had a whole houseful of GUNS in the first place,
perhaps this ugliness could have been avoided. And, by the way, it is not just
Fox News that is milking Sandy Hook for all it's worth. School shootings are
gold any way you look at it, whether your station is progressive or
Neanderthal. News is news; wring out every drop of angst and pathos you can. Will
this do any good when it comes to actually passing legislation to get assault
weapons back off the streets? We can only hope so. Kudos to Diane Feinstein for coming on strong and speaking out, backing her words with action.
And I cannot leave this topic without saying that I think a special place in hell should be reserved for those news-people who stuck microphones into the faces of six-year-old kids just as they were emerging from the scene of the worst nightmare of their young lives and asked them to describe what went on and how they felt about it. How the hell do you think they felt?