I started this post at the normal time this morning (during my morning airdrop), but I was a bit hungover and didn’t feel I could give this post the attention it deserved. I apologize about the delay, but really, this needed time to stew.
It’s probably not hard to figure out based on the title of this post that I’m about to discuss the incredibly sad events that happened yesterday in Connecticut. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you probably live under a rock. In case you do, a gunman entered into an elementary school yesterday morning and shot 20 children between the ages of six and seven, as well as 6 adults, one of them being the principal. Police later found the shooter’s mother dead in her home. This tragic event comes on the heels of a completely unrelated shooting earlier in the week at a mall in Portland, Oregon. Please excuse any appearance of levity I may be expressing here; it’s not intentional. Also, forgive me about the pun in the title; I promise it’s appropriate.
This seems to be a growing… epidemic. I really hate using that term, but I don’t have the energy to think of something better. Every time this happens, we are reminded of Virginia Tech. Those of us who are old enough to remember are taken all the way back to Columbine. There are several other instances to mention, none any less significant or sad, but I could spend the rest of the night finding news articles and never get to the core of my post.
Usually, when a tragedy occurs, I am immediately and reactively detached from emotion. Once that passes, I’m dumbstruck with sadness and tears. Pretty soon, two days later maybe, I am completely fed up with the news coverage and the social media buffet of sweeping generalizations, uninformed assumptions, liberal finger-pointing, and conservative hand-waving. Everybody seems to become a freakin’ expert on human psychology, sociology, and criminology, spouting all kinds of bullshit on every topic including gun control, access to mental health resources, economic distress, violence in the media, deficits in public awareness, and school lockdown policies. I’m not saying that these issues are bullshit, not at all. What I am saying is that all of these issues seem to disappear from conversation between disasters, then someone snaps, kills a bunch of people, and suddenly everybody with a microphone or a keyboard is babbling about how important these issues are to them.
Am I guilty of this? Probably. I mean, I am writing this blog right now, but let’s face it: This is social media, so if I didn’t write about the Connecticut shooting, no one would read my blog post today, right?
This event was especially tragic, both because of the number of victims and their ages. It’s bad when anyone dies at the hands/devices of another person, worse when it’s a child, and unfathomable when it’s several children. Regardless of the circumstances, it fucking pisses me off when I turn on the TV and see the following images: (voice over of some bland fake news anchor going on and on about what is possibly going on in the minds of) images of people on their cell phones crying, men holding children crying, teachers walking students out of the school, carefully constructed frames with police officers carrying large assault rifles with terrified looking children in the background, and children (supposedly) left unattended in the street looking helpless.
Not only are these images used for shock value and intended to paint a picture that is less than accurate in terms of the events unfolding, but these are real people involved in real tragedies happening in real time. How dare anyone use those moments to exploit a tragedy for the improvement of network ratings or peddling a corporate/political agenda. How fucking dare you. How would you like it if, let’s say, your sister was attending a school where a shooting occurred, and you were outside, wondering if she was a victim, and no one was able to tell you anything, and you lost your wits, and you were screaming and crying and pleading for someone to find your little sister, just to know if she was alive, because no one was allowed to enter the building, and while you were having your little meltdown, some cameraman snaped a picture of you and sent it to the network office. Within minutes, images of your face were incorporated into the live feed that will circulate for hours upon days upon weeks. How would you like to have people call you and tell you they saw you on the news, in the midst of this disaster? How would you like to find a news article on the web with a copy of your picture embedded in the print? What if your sister, God forbid, actually died in that shooting? Great, because now, all you have to do is watch the news to remember exactly what your face looked like when police told you that your loved one was murdered. Priceless moments brought to you by the insensitive self-serving media.
Get fucking real people. There are terrible things happening all the time, everywhere. Just because there happens to be a camera in someone’s hand nearby, doesn’t mean that it immediately needs to be used to capture events like this. And anyone who wants to get on here and tell me that images like that are what some people need to understand just how important the issues of gun control and mental health are and how these issues affect real people can go fuck themselves, because that is not the way to force a loaded gun into someone else’s hands.
Every time a finger gets pointed at someone else for not refusing to sell a gun to every psychopath that walks into a pawn shop, not seeing the warning signs that someone might be mentally disturbed, not preventing a shooter from walking into a school, not letting children see something bad on TV, not training teachers to be assassins, or not doing some other thing to some other thing, that person is pulling the gun out of the killer’s hand and pushing it into someone else’s, regardless if it’s justified or not.
And really, it doesn’t matter if it’s justified or not. Despite a lack of gun control or a lack in school security, or anything else, it takes someone who is mentally disturbed to pick up a gun, doesn’t matter where they got it, walk into a school full of six and seven year old kids, and start shooting them. And then, as if you would need more proof that they are mentally unbalanced, they kill themselves. In case no one is keeping track, most people don’t do that. Most people, something near 99%, do not go on killing sprees, and many of them are exposed to some of the same difficulties, some of the same life experiences, and some of the same environmental factors as this gunman. What prevents the other people in that group from going on a rampage?
I’m going to share a quote from a friend of mine that I saw on Facebook, because I agree wholeheartedly:
As far as my thoughts on the issues at hand, all I can say is that I don’t think any one thing was to blame for what happened. I can’t really blame gun control here, because this guy, according to some articles I’ve read, got these guns from his mother, i.e. the mother he killed, i.e. the person to whom the guns were registered. We can’t exactly interview his mother, so we can’t interrogate her to find out why she didn’t stop him from taking her guns and going on a shooting spree, nor can we ask her why she didn’t see this coming and have him locked up in a mental institution. The shooter is dead, so we can’t ask him what was going through his mind when he pocketed three guns, got in a car, and drove to an elementary school with murder in his fists. We can’t question the principal about what she was personally doing to make the school safe for the students whom she was personally responsible, because we all know that if anything happens within the walls of a school, the principal knows about it. We can’t even talk to the school psychologist about how the other students are going to deal with this tragedy, since several of their classmates and friends were slaughtered right before their eyes, in a what is supposed to be a safe place to learn, because she too, was killed in this attack.
So you see, we may never know exactly what caused this man to go over the edge and do the unthinkable, but one thing is for damn sure: nothing will be done to solve this growing epidemic of mass shootings until finger-pointing is done in front of a mirror.
This blog ran super, super long, but I apologize for nothing. I hope it made you feel something, good or bad. It doesn’t matter to me which one.
See you in a few hours…