"Mindless," "senseless," "national tragedy," etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
These are the words that seem permanently affixed to any incident relating to shootings in the United States. Another keyword is "unthinkable."
But what exactly is so "unthinkable" about Friday's school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, when it almost seems to happen on a regular basis?
These instances of violence are commonplace down south. They happen, the media plasters headlines, politicians "send their thoughts and prayers to the families of the victims," there is public outpouring of "sentiment" across all forms of social media and then...Nothing.
Nothing happens, nothing changes. The story fades into the background of the eternal news cycle, only maybe to be revisited on an anniversary with a title such as "Location of Massacre...One Year Later."
Like clockwork, this string of events happens whenever there is such an incident. What does not happen however, is actual change. There are no reforms to gun laws (positive ones, that is) and there is only a semblance of discussion. The usual lines pop out: "Guns don't kill people; people kill people," often added with "now is not the time to argue the issue; we must stand united; I, for example, will go hug my children."
Even Elamin Abdelmahmoud, in a blog for the Huffington Post, seems to wish to take a soft approach. He is against the media swooping down on the children -- the victims -- and interviewing them for all to see.
Well, if the people of the United States did not clamour to hang up their guns when they saw the tear-streaked faces of high school or university students, I would say the media should be showing the face of little Billy who was playing Batman and narrowly missed being shot. Maybe that innocent cherub face will finally wake the populace up as to what must happen to their gun laws.
We make the joke about the "gun-toting American cowboys." Well, in the westerns I've seen, the cowboys don't kill children or teenagers. It's maybe time for us to drop this humourous stereotype and come face-to-face that in the You Ess of Ay, when a man wields a gun, he wields it, not on a deserted Texas street, but in the play area of a school -- complete with Lego blocks, Play-doh, and drawings for mommy and daddy to pin on the fridge. I would say "We expect this type of barbarism in war-torn countries, but not south of the border," but quite sadly, that's not the case.
It's time for the supposedly sentimental to drop the notion that this is not the moment for discussion, but rather the time for emotion and prayer. As Hitchens titled his essay on the Virginia Tech shooting: Suck It Up. President Obama should not be crying, the flag should not be lowered; they ought to do away with temporary sentimentality, and finally take action regarding gun control.
After all, with so many of these types of tragedies under their belt, shouldn't the Americans be rather immune to this sort of thing? Shouldn't they be better able to finally sit down, and politicize the issue rather than mourn? If they finally did that, if they did away with the sentimentality and vigils, they might one day find themselves not having to grieve in the first place.
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