“This is not the day”

Not long after learning of yesterday’s horrible news of a mass shooting, I thought about the post I’d started writing after earlier horrible news of a mass shooting, then finished after still other horrible news of a mass shooting. I referenced it in a tweet, and was promptly called out by a couple of people who objected, strenuously, to bringing up anything with a whiff of politics. Why?

This is not the day.

I should have expected replies like that. But why? What is the logic of that reflexive responseeven from people who don’t support loosening gun regulations–every time some sad individual takes a gun and kills a dozen or more of his fellow human beings?

I am not talking about self-serving commentary by those looking to cash in politically or financially. Think of Mitt Romney grotesquely distorting recent American public diplomacy in the Middle East hours after the murder of Ambassador Chris Stevens or, on a lesser level of offensiveness, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D.-N.Y.) demanding publicly that Apple “set the record straight” about the reception of the iPhone 4’s antenna or all of those foolish publicists who think calling out a recent tragedy in a PR pitch will get reporters to cover the client’s product.

No, I am speaking of citizens who want to know what went wrong and what we could have done to prevent it. What other reaction could we possibly have to an atrocity like the murder of 20 children? (As the father of a two-year-old, I was almost shaking with rage at one point yesterday.) Wondering what we could have done differently is, as Maggie Koerth-Baker noted astutely, is part of the bargaining stage of grief.

This is what we’ve done after a hurricane floods subway tunnels and shuts out the lights across much of New York City, a highway bridge collapses, a space shuttle breaks up on reentry, and hijackers fly airplanes into buildings. We would be less than functioning, inquisitive human beings if we did not ask if we could have done anything different, even on The Day.

That may “politicize the tragedy.” But so does attempting to short-circuit any discussion about our options because This Is Not The Day. And in a democracy, politics is how we have to solve some of our biggest problems.

So to those of you who want to use your First Amendment rights to defend your Second Amendment rights the next time, please find another talking point. Because this one does not help your cause. And this discussion could use your reasoned input, not your denial.

10 thoughts on ““This is not the day”

  1. I had and continue to have no problem with the idea that we MUST have a conservation about what happened and what lies within mankind’s ability to change. That was not my objection. My objection was/is with those that didn’t state a desire to learn from the tragedy but rather those that stated the conclusion (gun control) as if they already knew the answer. They don’t.

    There was nothing to learn yesterday. There was nothing to think about yesterday. Yesterday was about feeling, not thinking. Those that expressed a desire to have a conversation, to learn from the horrible event, I have no problem with. That is part of the emotional reaction. My problem firmly falls with those that immediately stated how gun control was the answer. That isn’t “learning from what happened.” That isn’t “starting a national conversation.” That is exploiting a tragedy for a political policy position and it makes me sick.

    I have never used, owned or touched a gun. I could care less about guns. I could care less about the NRA. I have no position on gun control, certainly not one that is informed by my own research on the issue. My current state of mind on the issue is that if gun control was the easy answer then all the regulations on drugs would bring us the end of meth, the end of gang-controlled drug-infested neighborhoods and the end of inner-city killing over drug territory.

    Criminals don’t follow laws. And I don’t see how gun control keeps guns out of the hands of those who intend to do harm. Did we learn similar lessons from prohibition? From drugs? What I see is just one more product that goes to the underground economy and give the inner-city gangs even more power to “regulate.”

    Lastly, politics. This issue, like global warming, like so many other things in this Country fails because it immediately gets picked up by either the left or the right and when it does, it is poison. If Maddow, Soledad, Schulz, Beck, Rush or Hannity has a position on it, it automatically creates a them versus us war that effectively kills the issue and polarizes our Country. Politics is a disease. Every once in a while one party gains some control and passes something over the the top of the other side and the other side then gears up to retaliate in the next cycle. It is a ugly, dirty game.

    I think Americans should take pause right now. I think that those 60% of us in the American middle should tell the 20% on the fringe left and the 20% on the fringe right to go to hell. I think we ought to invest our immediate energy and emotion from this tragedy in a permanent third political party in Washington DC that effectively neutralizes the nut jobs on both the left and right and creates a majority party that actually solves problems based on consensus, working together and talking. Before we tackle the 2nd amendment, let’s tackle a new amendment that gives a moderate party real status, power and money and let there be three equal parties that moves forward competitively in politics to solve problems.

    • Thanks. But that’s the thing: I didn’t say “we need more gun control” yesterday. I linked to a post in which I said “here are questions I have about this conversation.”

      And about the only definitive statement I made in it was the one I quoted, about how we’ve screwed up in some way as a civilization if our best remedy is to have more people carrying around handguns on their daily errands. Yesterday hasn’t changed my mind about that.

      – R

      • I understand your point of view on that. You are correct that you didn’t come out as an overt advocate for gun control yesterday. I probably let my emotions of the day lead me to that conclusion based on what you did say and what I likely presumed your politics to be from previous observations of your posts. It was wrong of me to infer your position when, in hindsight, I see that you dd not come out and specifically state it.

      • Thanks. But if I had said upfront, say, “ban assault weapons,” I would rather you offer data and logic to suggest why that wouldn’t work, or what you’d suggest doing instead.

  2. The only other angle that I’d like to state on this is my discomfort with the position of the media and Hollywood on this. I am not in the camp that believes that the media or Hollywood causes these things. Do I think that they influence it? Maybe. At least to the extent that they contribute to a numbness about violence through movies, video games, and the 24 hour cable news cycle. But I fall firmly in the camp of “don’t go watch it, or let your young kids watch it” if it bothers you.

    My discomfort comes from left leaning Hollywood that I will anticipate will defend to the end, their movies and the violence in them that make them billions, but yet I also anticipate they will favor tight controls on the very instruments that they glorify in their movies. I have a really hard time squaring those two positions.

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