I turn on the news this morning, and I’m horrified. Over 100 casualties in a club in Orlando. And I check the news again later in the day (why? why? Because the initial horror wasn’t enough?) to see that they caught another guy on the verge of the next horrible thing, not 24 hours later.
And I feel a nagging at the back of my brain; and I think to myself that while I was writing about rape a few days ago, I wasn’t just thinking about rape, I was thinking about the world we live in. About how we are shaping the world we live in. I’m not going to toot my own horn here, nor am I going to offer platitudes or outrage or rushes to judgment or anything like that. The internet is full of such things, and I don’t need to bathe myself in those muddy waters.
Still, not three days ago, I wrote this:
And deal with it we must. There’s something broken in our culture, and by extension, in ourselves. It’s so easy for the rapist’s father to say “this is not the son I raised; he made a mistake.”
Substitute “shooter” for “rapist” and you have not only the events of last night in Orlando, but you have the events of … jesus. Columbine. Sandy Hook. Virginia Tech. And so forth.
Something is amiss in our society. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark. And until we have the courage to face up to it and do something about it, nothing will change.
For that matter, I was reading some Dr. Seuss to my son the other day. That’s right, Dr. The-Cat-in-the-Hat Seuss. To be specific, we were reading The Lorax, because he likes all the bright colors in that book, if not perhaps the heavy-handed environmental message of it. In that story, toward the end, there’s a rather prescient sentiment:
Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
Apply that little nugget to whatever issue you like. But goddammit, all this shit is related. Rape. Mass shootings. Terrorism. General dickishness to your fellow man. And usually I censor myself on the blarg here, but fuck all, there are times when you observe societal niceties and there are times when you let the niceties fall by the wayside.
A hundred people are dead or injured today, here, in the United States of America, because of hatred, pure and simple. Who knows how many more might be next to them if not for the efforts of California police interrupting the man with a car full of assault weapons?
A hundred more sons and daughters. A hundred more fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends, aunts, uncles; a hundred more people. Who cares if they were LGBT or otherwise, who cares what you think about LGBT individuals for that matter? A hundred people are DEAD.
John Scalzi puts it rather well here, probably rather a lot better than I do. But the fact is, when things like this happen, people wallow in despair for a few days, they say the magic words, and they move on with their lives. But in this country, at least, you have one tiny bit of power. One tiny little ounce of leverage. One seedling of an unlikely tree sitting in your pocket, to hearken back to Dr. Seuss.
That leverage isn’t your thoughts and prayers, as Scalzi points out. Nobody gives a shit what you think in your own private Idaho. Nobody gives a shit what you pray about.
But the people who make the laws sure as hell give a shit how you vote.
In the days to come, the overbearing attack dogs of both sides will be unleashed on our collective consciousness. “It’s not a gun problem, it’s a mental illness issue.” “Nobody needs guns like the ones used in these crimes.” And everything in between.
Guns are not going anywhere. And I don’t in any way advocate legislature that would prevent any American from owning a reasonable weapon for the protection of his or her family.
But assault weapons are not that. And attacks like this would not happen without weapons like that. You can’t kill 50 and wound 53 with a knife, or even with a pistol, before somebody takes you down. And it is the staunch, unblinking adherence to “2nd amendment rights” that continues to make it possible for the wrong people to get their hands on guns more easily.
Would more gun laws eradicate gun violence entirely? Of course not. Lawbreakers, as they say, are not going to be deterred just because there’s a law in place.
But by that rationale, why do we have speeding laws? Or anti-theft laws? Or anti-drug laws? Or or or …
As has been said many times around this blog and many others, the perfect is the enemy of the good. And gun rights advocates will argue til they’re blue in the face that criminals will still get guns. And maybe they’re right.
But just because there is no perfect solution doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.
Dammit. I’m supposed to be on vacation.