Massacres in the U.S. are like the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day. They just keep happening. The difference is that unlike Bill Murray, no one seems to be learning anything from re-living the horror over and over and over. (Wait, what’s that familiar definition of insanity, again?)
Is anyone getting tired of this yet? Of the combination of selfishness, rage, and weapons. Of the blood and death. Of the prayers and platitudes. Nah, rinse and repeat.
It’s become so common that in the aftermath it feels most appropriate to not bother to even discuss the carnage in Las Vegas, site of the latest outrageous outrage. If, as gun enthusiasts proclaim, now is not the time to discuss solutions to gun violence, then now seems like the time to discuss anything but the violence, sadness, and death there. Why bother with the investigation or trying to figure out a motive? The dead are dead, the next killer is already armed.
It is equally difficult to ignore the voices of reason and common sense.
David Frum in The Atlantic, points out that (maddeningly) governments in the U.S. do react to gun violence: by allowing more guns in more places. Enough to change the outlook for a sick society from sad to hopeless.
Thomas Friedman in the NY Times rightly highlighted that “(the U.S.) will turn the world upside down to track down the last Islamic State fighter in Syria — deploying B-52s, cruise missiles, F-15s, F-22s, F-35s and U-2s. We will ask our best young men and women to make the ultimate sacrifice to kill or capture every last terrorist. And how many Americans has the Islamic State killed in the Middle East? I forget. Is it 15 or 20? And our president never stops telling us that when it comes to ISIS, defeat is not an option, mercy is not on the menu, and he is so tough he even has a defense secretary nicknamed “Mad Dog.” But when fighting the N.R.A. — the National Rifle Association, which more than any other group has prevented the imposition of common-sense gun-control laws — victory is not an option, moderation is not on the menu and the president and the G.O.P. have no mad dogs, only pussycats.”
Friedman calls out not only the hypocrisy, but also the motive. Greed. Who wins and who loses in the wars overseas? Follow the money. How about in the fight to apply a vaguely worded amendment, penned over 200 years ago, to modern society and weaponry? Follow the money.
While Friedman ends his column calling the sane to take this fight to the polls, he also hints at the fundamentally broken philosophical foundation of those wed to the notion that owning guns is a right above any and all others. Theirs is a worldview full of contradictions, some of which Matt Taibbi brings into clearer focus.
Chief among those contradictions:
- death by guns is acceptable as long as it is brought about by citizens
- falling education standards, which citizens should be figuratively up in arms about, causes hardly a peep, but rising idiocy cannot be an excuse to keep anyone from owning a gun or fifty
- public and personal safety must take a backseat to each person’s right to carry around a weapon designed solely to kill, wherever they like, whenever they like, and regardless of their training, mental state, rage issues, clumsiness, or any and all other problems and faults
- it is patriotically required that no matter where the government send soldiers, bombs, or guns, they and their mission — no matter how destructive and no matter the motive — must be admired and praised without question, because to do otherwise is an insult to the country, the flag, and the government
- but any attempts by that same government to protect public lands (that is, lands owned by all) or public safety by in any way limiting access to those lands or weapons is the cold, crooked hand of tyranny
- and yet, if that same government, as part of an effort to spend trillions of dollars hunting down foreign extremists who are indeed wicked but statistically speaking hardly a threat, spreads that money to friends and shareholders, and simultaneously passes laws to strip away protections of citizens’ rights, data, and privacy, the gun-toting patriots say: squat
The U.S. is a mess, but the few voices of reason rising in volume are at least a sign of intelligent life: