Friday, July 20, 2012

Mass murder in Aurora, CO

As we all know, the Founders wrote the Second Amendment to guarantee the freedom of everyone to obey the voices in their heads telling them to git their handguns and automatic weapons and explosives and go down and murder people at the movie theater. And ole Rush has done told us that this here Batman movie is one of them thar democrat-commie-kenyan-muslimist movies anyhow.

But part of the American post-mass-murder ritual involves talk show hosts and their callers saying in a tone suggesting they are the first ones who ever thought of it that if everyone else at the scene of the murder had been carrying their own loaded weapons, they could have taken care of it right away. I'm trying to picture how that would have worked in Aurora, if 10 or 20 other moviegoers had whipped out their handguns and sawed-off shotguns and started blasting away in a dark crowded theater full of panicky people running for the exit.

Ryan Parker et al in 12 killed, dozens wounded at Aurora movie theater Denver Post 07/20/2012 report on the shooting.

Charlie Pierce (The Aurora Shooting Esquire Politics Blog 07/20/2012) initially suggested that everyone should show a little restraint in reacting to the Aurora shooting: "I would like to recommend that, when an event like what happened in Aurora occurs, we all give ourselves a decent interval before wedging the bloodshed into the stifling cliches that pass for our current political dialogue."

But less than an hour later (The President Speaks Out), he recognized that it was hopeless. He links to a story that was one of the news items that made him realize his wish of a few minutes earlier was not going to be fulfilled: Tea Party Congressman [Lou Gohmert] Links Colorado Shooting To Attacks On Christianity Think Progress 07/20/2012.

Pierce also approved of President Obama's comments on the event After Shooting, Obama Calls for 'Day for Prayer and Reflection' PBS Newshour 07/20/2012:

Pierce comments on Obama's speech, "If Louie Gohmert wants to know how to talk about Christianity on a day like this, that's the way to do it."

I share Pierce's frustration that he expressed in the first post. He put it more eloquently than I did in the first two paragraphs above. But I was getting at the same thing, that public and punditocracy reactions to these mass murder events have fallen into a tiresome pattern that discouraging to see every time it plays out.

But it's not a matter of both-sides-do-it. Yes, advocates of gun control point out the obvious problems of the country being overflowing with small arms and ammunition. But, as is so often the case with those advocating pragmatic solutions to real problems, their appeals lack the tribal identification pull and melodrama of the gun nuts talking about how their cold dead fingers will hold on to their huntin' rifles. And our mass media culture has become too frivolous to frame the issue of gun violence in a way that allows for sensible reporting and discussion.

And while Pierce is right about Obama's comment being "how to talk about Christianity on a day like this", I actually don't feel entirely comfortable with the President talking about it like this. The President is head of a secular state and a secular government. He's not our Pastor-in-Chief.

All societies recognize that war against foreign enemies is a different matter than random murder, this particular not-out-Pastor-in-Chief says, "But while we will never know fully what causes somebody to take the life of another," yet staunchly defends his unprecedented claim to designate individuals, including American citizens never even indicted for a crime, for assassination by drone based on his Executive decision alone with no judicial process. Without even any official post-assassination explanation or, for that matter, any official acknowledgement of the assassination program itself even though the White House leaks information on it to show what a tough enemy of terrorism Obama is.

In his own way, Obama is preemptively framing the issue just like Michelle Malkin and the rest of the FOX brigade. Obama's framing may be more humane. But he also is discussing the Aurora shooting as though it were one of the tragedies of fate: "we may never understand what leads anybody to terrorize their fellow human beings like this. Such violence, such evil is senseless." This press release on the speech on the White House website is even called The Tragedy in Colorado.

But we don't yet what motivated the shooter(s) in Aurora. He may be nuts, he may have been out to shoot a former girlfriend who was at the movie with her new honey, he may have been a religious fanatic who heard that gays were going to be there, he may have been part of some terrorist group who wanted to commit an act of terror. But Obama - like the far right - wants to dismiss any kind of possible religious or political motive as quickly as possible. If it were to turn out there was a Muslim involved in the attack, I'm sure we'll hear something different from the President and from FOX News.

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