I'm an asshole. I'm a shit-flinger. I haven't really tried to hide it, for all the good that would do.
But let me assure you, I do have a positive suggestion: every network that uses the public airwaves, every cable outlet that went wall-to-wall about Newtown, every post-facto enlightened spokesman like Joe Scarborough should, from this day, broadcast pictures of the twenty-six victims at Sandy Hook, individually on their birthdays, collectively on December 14. Followed by a demonstration of the capabilities of a Bushmaster brand M16 on a child-sized block of ballistics gelatin.
By the way, in case I haven't mentioned it, I Heart Pierce:
There's one other thing they can do for me: spend every night for the rest of their lives haunted in their dreams.But if Senator Joe [Manchin] wants to convince me this change of mind is anything but a tentative nod toward what he thinks might be a changing political reality regarding guns — and, to me, that's still really up in the air — then here's what he can do. He can call a press conference today and announce that he is resigning from the NRA unless and until Wayne LaPierre and the rest of the executive board is fired, and unless and until the organization ceases to create through its mailings and its rhetoric a universe of armed paranoia in the land, and unless and until the NRA stops aiding and abetting — and profiting from — the continued existence and propagation of that paranoia. Then I'll believe him. Oh, and if he publicly apologized for that idiotic commercial wherein he shot cap-and-trade legislation with his personal shootin' 'arn, that would be nice, too.As for Scarborough, well, it seems he's offering a little Beltway horse trading here. If you crack down on video games, I'll consider cracking down on guns. Nice to have you aboard, Joe. Now sit down. examine your conscience for past sins, and then shut up while the people who have been doing the real work on this issue for the 20 years in which you were carrying water for the gun industry go about their business again.
Too harsh? Did either one of these guys really not understand what doing the bidding of the NRA meant?
[Manchin, by the way, claimed, belatedly, that "nobody goes hunting with these sorts of weapons", which, as anyone who's ever been in the woods in Southern Indiana on the first day of squirrel season can tell you, is just plain disingenuous.]
As for the attendant discussions, the main thing they demonstrate to me is that the ability to reason, or even to understand the distinction between Law and Oprah reruns, is in serious jeopardy. Mental health? The Mental Health Establishment is like the modern aircraft carrier: good at pushing around defenseless targets, but in a real war it has to drop all its offensive operations and scramble to keep afloat. What's kept you guys from solving the problem before now? Where were you when Reagan eviscerated the public mental health program? Busy exploring the market in telling parents there was something wrong with their children for smoking marihuana the same as the parents did? How'd that work out? Great, if you market Adderall.
Video games and violence in the culture? Sheesh, ask the Mental Health Establishment to back you up on this one. You do realize that a lot of those kids are playing first-person military shooters, right? What we just sent another generation of Americans to do for realz? Except the kids' enemies are more realistically portrayed. The goddam culture thrives on lying to these young people, and insists they swallow it whole, and then, when it comes down to it, lies to their faces again, in ways that not only do the kids know isn't true, but in ways they know the people saying it know isn't true. I was listening to NPR in the car yesterday, and some mental health professional--clincal psychiatrist or neurologist or something, not some chopped liver psych major--was bemoaning the legalization of maryjane in her home state. It was an updated version of Harry Anslinger's rap, minus the Mexicans and Chinese; weed is still a Gateway drug, but now (now that that claim is too laughable to make, that is), it's a Gateway to Dropping Out. The role of the modern psych professional is to make sure everyone realizes his full potential in IT somewhere.
Farhad Manjoo explains why we don't have smart guns. Control of killing machines is waaaay overdue, but I caution that Looking Hard at Problems and Attempting to Solve Them is something Slate should undertake very slowly, like an abdominal surgery patient approaches solid food. There are 200 million guns in this country. How long would it take all of them to be replaced by smart tech? Maybe we should legislate an upgrade? Let's announce the recall in Slate.
Fer chrissakes. No, we cannot legislate human nature, cannot legislate Evil out of existence, can't even be sure Dawn will arrive on schedule. None of that changes the capacity of automatic (semi-; who gives a shit) weapons, large volume clips, and high-velocity shells to inflict enormities, like the most recent one, like the next one. Sure, bombs can, too. I remind you, it's illegal to own those.
Nancy Lanza was 52. That means she was forty years old when the Columbine massacre screamed across the headlines. Yet she had an emotionally disturbed child, semi-automatic weapons, and she taught him to shoot. Our Precious Freedoms are too fragile for society at large to've demanded she keep them under lock and key. We can't legislate sanity, or common sense, and it's too late to discuss either with her. We can stop looking for easy answers, and start holding people accountable for facilitating this sort of thing in the name of profit.
And we can show those pictures, and make sure no one forgets, until things get better.