Another Massacre? Ho Hum
Honestly, were you surprised by what happened this morning in Aurora, Colorado? I wasn't. What shocked me more than anything was my reaction to the carnage:
"Oh, so it happened again, huh?"
Colorado dreaming on such a nasty day. So help me, I didn't even blink when I heard the news. Ho hum.Charles Manson; Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh; David Berkowitz; Klebold and Harris....Add James Holmes' portrait to the Hall of Infamy's gallery.
As is my habit, I was up in the very early morning watching MSNBC when the bulletins starting drifting in through the darkened air. Same shit, different day: some homicidal jackass lets loose on a gathering of innocents - most of them kids - all revved up to watch the premiere of the latest Batman flick at a midnight show. Then, before they knew what the hell hit them....
Their families were probably sound asleep when each got the word that their child was dead. Can you even imagine that? As of this writing there are twelve lifeless bodies over which we may ponder and pontificate.
The mass killings took place less than twenty miles from the Columbine High School in Littleton. There is usually no shortage of screaming ironies when a tragedy this immense and hideous makes itself known. Such was the case early this morning in Aurora, Colorado. Too weird for words.
This is the way it's going to be from now on, kiddies. When a country has the stupidest gun laws in the western world (laws that are getting even stupider by the year) it's citizens should come to expect this sort of thing. Our lawmakers have no intention of correcting this unacceptable situation. Most of them are too terrified of the power of the National Rifle Association to do the right thing. Fifty-seven years ago John F. Kennedy (one of history's more celebrated victims of gun violence) wrote a book that profiled examples of great political courage throughout American history. He wouldn't have much material to work with were he around today to write a sequel. Cowardice abounds. Get used to living in a country in ruins. This is the way it's going to be from now on.
For the next week or so, as in times past, we'll be having all the old, tired cliches of the NRA shoved down our throats: "Guns don't kill people. People kill people." Of course they don't - and I'm seriously considering shooting the next person who tells me that. "If guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have them." Yeah right. Were you aware of the fact that gun violence in Britain has all-but vanished since that country banned all hand guns a few years ago? The same is true for Australia! In countries where firearms are difficult or impossible to obtain, the murder rate is extremely low or (in some cases) non-existent. I'm not makin' this stuff up, folks! Do the research!
The first serious debate with respect to gun control (in my memory anyway) came in the late spring of 1968 following the assassinations - within two months of each other - of Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy. I can still vividly recall Time Magazine's Pop Art/Peter Maxx-style cover of a smoking gun aimed right at the face of the reader. Then, as now, the nation had been forced into a serious discussion about our insane appetite for firearms in the wake of an unspeakable tragedy. Then, as now, an outraged citizenry demanded legislative action. And, as nothing changed in 1968, nothing will change in 2012. Nothing.
Every once in a while, the debate is resurrected - as it was in 1980 after the murder of John Lennon - or in 1981 when an attempt was made on the life of President Reagan - or in 1999 following the Columbine tragedy. But after a week or two of mindless rhetoric, it was always back to business as usual. The sad and undeniable fact is that another massacre on the scale of what happened early this morning in Colorado will happen again - and again and again and again and again and again and again. Deal with it.
And while it may be true (as the NRA never tires of pointing out) that a person who wants to kill you will make the attempt regardless of the weapon available, you stand much more of a sporting chance out-running someone with a switch blade than a bullet fired through the chamber of a 9 mm semi-automatic.
Susan Clements, my beloved, lost cousin, was an accomplished, violinist, pianist and an award winning writer (it runs in the family...OK, maybe not, just bear with me). She was twenty-three years old and had everything to live for. The man who murdered her in cold blood - a German exchange student - could not easily gain access to a gun in Indiana (Susan's native state) so he flew to Arizona - a place where the gun laws are are a lot less sane than those in the Hoosier state - and was able to obtain two of them.
He then drove back to Bloomington and killed her and her friend, Steven Molen, at her dorm on the campus of the University of Indiana on April 23, 1992. She was such a beautiful, sweet and gentle girl. Two decades later the reality of what happened to her doesn't get much easier to deal with. I once met an elderly man in Toronto whose own daughter had died in the same, horrible manner over thirty years before. He said to me, "You adjust, but you never really get over it." I've come to learn how right he was.
The NRA types love to jabber away - like diseased little myna birds - about "freedom". We need to come to grips with some unpleasant realities. A society that lives in dreaded, mortal terror wondering when and where the next massacre of innocents will take place may indeed be many things - no argument from me there. "Free" they are not. Let's just stop kidding ourselves here and now, okay?
A couple of the paragraphs of this piece were taken (with slight editing) from an article I wrote five years ago immediately after the Virginia Tech massacre. Everything I wrote on that day was so apropos for today, I couldn't resist! Journalistic laziness on my part? Quite possibly a valid case could be made. So sue me!
The more things change the more they stay the same. Life is funny that way, you know?
Bowling For Columbine
a film by Michael Moore
This is essential viewing (in my humble opinion) if you want to take a good (and satirical) look into America's sick fascination with guns - not to mention our warped gun culture. Here's a link to order it off of Amazon.com:
You can pick it up used for under five bucks. If you haven't seen it yet you really ought to. If you saw it when it was released a decade ago, it's time to see it again. I can't emphasize enough what an important film this is. It's worth the price of the ticket just to see Charlton Heston (playing Charlton Heston) in his last screen appearance.
Happy viewing, Campers!