Once again, here we are, scratching our heads as our brains prepare us for a media onslaught of round-the-clock coverage of yet another mass shooting by another deranged gunman who, no matter how you slice it, shouldn’t have had access to the kind weaponry that appears to have been used by 20-year old Adam Lanza to shoot dead 20 small children and six adults, including his mother, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
If you’re wondering who is responsible for this tragedy, look in the mirror. And then demand a fucking conversation about gun control. And mental health care. And poverty. And priorities. And how these things are intertwined in this ugly equation.
If you accept the bullshit that now isn’t the time to discuss it, you are the problem. Get off your ass and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
When tragedy strikes a community, our desire to make sense of it as human beings, is complex, but unfortunately, our experience, garnered from an increasing number of mass-killing spree incidents has taught us a thing ot two.
Any lie ever uttered from the mouth of a politician is sure to be followed by a justification involving their altruistic desire to “protect the children.”
Thankfully not all of us are able to fully grasp the unspeakable grief the families of these dead children are going through, and will live with for the rest of their lives.
Thankfully not all of us have to keep our emotions in check to the degree the parents of these children, who witnessed or heard the mayhem unfold, must. To have to figure out how to provide answers to questions none of us really understand, and be careful to avoid unconsciously transferring their anxiety.
There are those who believe, with good intention, that speaking out right now is insensitive. That calling out our culpability and complacency when it comes to gun violence is “pushing an agenda,” or taking advantage of the tragedy.
Perhaps if you’re Kmart – tweeting prayers and #Fab15Toys.
But in fact, now is the time to ask hard questions. If pushing our own agendas is about reducing gun violence and senseless killings, the best thing we can do to honor the memory of those innocent victims is to do everything in our power to keep it from happening again.
The 20 (so far) children killed in Connecticut this morning were between the ages of 5 – 10 years old. It may be difficult for them to understand the connections between mental health, gun violence, and poverty, but let’s not pretend, to ourselves, that there isn’t one.
For once, let’s explore ways to protect our children with the same ferocity anti-choice politicians do fetuses. Let’s try regulating guns with the same fervor conservatives do women’s bodies.
On a personal level, I am angry and feel responsible for my relative complacency.
But I also recall that Americans tend to have very short memories, and I don’t think I am even capable of keeping quiet as those who are in a position to act continue to fail. Offering prayers and platitudes and bullshit.
“We need moms and dads helping raise kids,” said Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in response to a question from an audience member about gun control that not one of the media moderators deemed important enough to address, suggesting, without a shred of evidence that children born out of wedlock were more likely to resort to gun violence. Whilst agreeing to sign a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. And while he may be licking his wounds in Disneyland, his position is alive and well and thriving in Republicanland.
I fully support giving the families of these victims the space and privacy to grieve as they see fit, outside the glare of the media, who have already sickened me to the stomach by interviewing an repeatedly airing interviews with kids still so traumatized they are barely capable of speaking between their gasps.
But I can mourn and respect the families and act at the same time.
For once, let’s explore ways to protect our children with the same ferocity we do fetuses. Let’s try regulating guns with the same fervor we do women’s bodies. Or people from marrying the ones they love.
For me this isn’t about pushing an agenda. It’s simply about saying enough is enough.
And doing something about it. For real. Right now.
This is the time for this conversation.
Clinton Fein is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and First Amendment activist, best-known for his 1997 First Amendment Supreme Court victory against United States Attorney General Janet Reno. Fein has also gained international recognition for his Annoy.com site, and for his work as a political artist. Fein is on the Board of Directors of the First Amendment Project, “a nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting and promoting freedom of information, expression, and petition.” Fein’s political and privacy activism have been widely covered around the world. His work also led him to be nominated for a 2001 PEN/Newman’s Own First Amendment Award.
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