|Sandy Hook memorial.
via Wikimedia commons.
Nearly all of the issues surrounding school shootings are controversial at the most level headed of times and right now we’re a nation in shock. Emotions are running high. I get that.
But a lot of the time it seems like we’re deliberately trying to put the worst possible spin on each other’s statements. I keep feeling as if we’re all collectively in a dysfunctional marital argument where one person is like, “I had a rough day at work” and the other is all, “Riiiiight. I suppose any kind of work is rough for you, you lazy bastard. You haven’t even taken out the garbage since 1993!”
Since the Newtown shootings here is how a good chunk of Twitter, Facebook, and the blogosphere has seemed to react to seven understandable sentiments. Do you think most people went with a) or b)?:
1. My heart is breaking. All of these children are dead. I’m going to hug my babies extra tight tonight.
Possible response a) I know. This is truly awful.
Possible response b) Don’t co-opt this tragedy. Leave it to you to be all, “OMG, you guys! I am having *FEELINGS*! Let me emote all over the place like the attention whore I am.”
2. How could this have happened? We need to understand this and take immediate preventative measures. I’m glued to my TV.
Possible response a) I can’t make sense of it either. Maybe this will be easier to understand after all of the facts have come to light and we’ve had a national conversation.
Possible response b) You need to know all of the gory details *right now*? Because that will do, what, exactly, aside from satiating your morbid curiosity? People like you are the reason the media stalks a bunch of kids and grieving parents. The 24/7 info-tainment news cycle is incredibly destructive and you’re feeding the beast.
3. We need to have a national conversation about stopping mass shootings TODAY.
Possible response a) We do need to talk about this but we need to allow time for mourning too.
Possible response b) Hey, dick: STOP BEING A DICK. If your loved one had just died which would you appreciate more: a bunch of strangers yelling about why they died or people saying they were sorry for your loss and then shutting the hell up? Now is not the time for politics. So seriously. Shut the hell up. Plus the odds of someone dying in a mass shooting are less than getting struck by lighting. Stop fixating on the grief porn the media is shoving down your throat, you stupid sheeple.
4. The sheer volume of gun deaths in
is horrifying and shameful. We need to tighten up our gun laws now. America
Possible response a) I’m a gun enthusiast who believes strongly in my right to protect myself but I get where you’re coming from: all of this gun violence is not okay. I just can’t think of any way we could tweak our gun laws that would actually make a difference.
Possible response b) YOU CAN’T TAKE MY GUNS YOU CONSTITUTION VIOLATING, BABY KILLING GODLESS LIBERAL.
5. If someone wants to find a way to do violence they’ll find a way. We need to address school security. We need to address mental health care. Gun control will not solve the problem.
Possible response a) I’m with you on school security and mental health care. But I want to talk seriously about guns too.
Possible response b) You’re one of those NRA assholes. Oh good. Because I’m in the mood to have an insanely unreasonable ass clown tweeting at me from next to the heap of child killing guns he’s piled in the bunker he built to survive the Apocalypse he believes is caused by the gays, Muslims, illegal brown people, and ladies with their whore pills.
6.There’s no way you do something like this if you don’t have mental issues.
Possible response a) Yes! Let’s discuss mental illness. Let’s make sure we stick to the facts though. Conflating mental illness with criminality concerns me.
Possible response b) Great job increasing the stigma associated with mental illness, asshat. Way to paint some of the nation’s most vulnerable, misunderstood citizens with the ‘potential mass murderer’ brush. I’m sure mentally ill people everywhere will really appreciate the increase in shunning.
7. We’ve got to look at what our culture has become. Violence, sex, and greed are glorified in everything from video games to movies to music. We’ve strayed from our moral center. We need to emphasize God and family way more than we do. We can’t pretend culture doesn’t play a role.
Possible response a) I get where you’re coming from. A culture that’s adrift morally is bound to generate some tragedy. I don’t want religion taught in my kid’s school but let’s talk about cultural change.
Possible response b) This happened because people go to the movies and don’t love Jesus enough? Wow. Just wow. If God is omnipotent He’s everywhere. Oh, wait… You’re one of those War on Christmas people where it has to be all Jesus everywhere all the time our else He’ll take His ball and go home. Why don’t you take your buddies and run away to that NRA nut job’s bunker.
Sometimes people go for option a) but frequently they go for option b) and then follow that up with comments about how they’re “just being real.”
Reacting authentically and accidentally offending someone is one thing. Not even trying to understand where someone else is coming from and being a jerk on purpose is another. Engaging with people who are dicks in the name of righteousness is incredibly frustrating and unproductive. Since we, as a nation, lack the option of getting a divorce from ourselves, we need to get our communication skills out of weirdly dysfunctional territory.
Having a meaningful national conversation about what happened in
is a great idea. Having a Jerry Springer style smack down is not.