Saturday, December 15, 2012

When the Levee Breaks

When I first saw the news for yesterday's shooting in Connecticut, I assumed I was seeing something from a few days prior. It arrived on my iPhone, via a New York Times ping alert. Oh, right, that shooting that happened, yeah, okay, I'm going back to bed...

But then Tiffany sent me a text message about the incident right around the same time my New York Times ping alerts started going bonkers. So much for my nap, and so much for avoiding the media onslaught of another horrific tragedy.

So I woke up, and in the span of the few minutes it took to read the latest NYT article, learned everything there was to know about the shooting. That is to say, in under five minutes, I acquired just as much information from over an hour's worth of television news coverage.

You know I was moved, because I even bothered to watch a Jacksonville evening news broadcast at all. Seriously, these affiliate stations make WFMZ - Channel 69 (Berks/Lehigh Counties) look nationally competent. Not only did I watch a Jacksonville news broadcast, but I watched three different broadcasts (simultaneously! - kinda).

I felt pretty bad for the woman in the story about the young man who died in a car accident. Her message was very simple: be an organ donor. Not only did she lose her son, but she also lost a bit of the spotlight and the attention that she (I certainly think) deserved for managing to stay as strong and coherent as she did on camera. Regardless, her son's organs are keeping others alive, and that is what matters most.

Tragedies such as the Sandy Hook shooting make me feel sad, but not just for the obvious reasons.

Yes, I said obvious. Innocent children were violently murdered. So why did every news broadcast that I watched feel it necessary to air a photo/video montage set to sad/somber music before each commercial break? I'm sure someone somewhere called it "gripping," and I'm actually amused at the thought of someone else sitting in front of a computer, trying to find the perfect dreary violin and piano combo for the image of crying children.

Oh, and yes, I can be amused at a time like this, because being a self-righteous, pout-faced drama-junkie does absolutely nothing to make anything better for anyone. I made many observations/quips in the form of facebook and twitter updates that I quickly recanted. I saw many facebook and twitter updates that I'm sure others wish they would have recanted.

What I also saw was very stern insistence from a great deal of people that they were, in fact, very sad and very angry. Again, I think this reaction is pretty obvious, so the amount of people who went well out of their way to let you know, damn it, that they felt pain and grief, bordered on worrying. Do these people think I'll assume they have no emotions whatsoever if they do not, rank and file, espouse their dismay?

I can forgive people for being sad, and for being shocked. After all, as I said, it's the obvious reaction. However, as I also said, I'm sad for more reasons than just those obvious ones. I'm sad because, whenever we go through one of these tragedies, I am reminded of how much I disagree with most other people on a very basic level about a great deal of important things. I am sad because we never seem to learn anything, ever.

I'm not referring to the gun control debate, though certain arguments within that realm did contribute to my sadness. I am talking about the shallowness of co-opting the tragedy and grief of others as your own. Now, the gun control debate is certainly influenced by this attitude. The aforementioned drama-junkies, at least the ones from the Fox News camp, very adamantly reminded us that we (the pro gun-control crowd) are scum for using a tragedy as a platform for the gun control debate. Yes, how dare we use a tragedy as a platform for further prevention of tragedy? I guess we're just letting our emotions get the better of us. It's a good thing we don't own guns, lest our passions cloud our reason. But I digress...

One of my facebook friends posted the link to Ryan Lanza's profile page (while he was still being incorrectly identified as the perpetrator) with "THE SHOOTER" as her comment. Out of my typically morbid curiosity, I clicked the link. It was not long until I found myself asking "who the fuck cares?"

I get it, we're angry, or whatever. But as the day wore on, I saw many a post wishing Adam Lanza, the real shooter, an eternity in hell. Again, I get it, vengeance, or whatever.

Okay, you get it, that I don't get it. You're so clever. What satisfaction does your hatred and lust for vengeance truly bring you? How, in any constructive way, is the world bettered by your bitching and moaning? I hear the shooter's name for every one of these mass-murders, I see his (it's always a twenty-something guy) face, and I feel absolutely nothing. I can see that the murderer is almost always a troubled individual who had access to too much power in a moment of an emotional nadir. I don't care what happens to him, so long as he is prevented from ever committing such an action again. I don't care what he feels, because no pain or anguish on his part could ever undo the consequences of his actions.

I am appalled by the brutality, but I'm not going to lie to you and say that I'm grieving. I don't care if you think you have the emotional/sentimental high ground/perspective on this issue. If it were one of your kids who were murdered, you wouldn't take to facebook or twitter to tell us about it.

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