Blog: Sandy Hook
(originally written 12/29/12)
I woke up December 15. Over two dozen Connecticut residents who should have did not.
My child woke up December 15. Nearly two dozen other children who should have did not, spending the night lying on cold morgue slabs rather than warm beds in their homes.
The Sandy Hook massacre is tragic. It is senseless. It is every pejorative adjective Webster’s can list, and more.
As with every other senseless tragedy preceding it, there has been an outpouring of national grief, inaccurate reporting, theories on how to prevent future tragedies, and of course the ritual, almost banal cries to A) give guns to everyone, or B) take guns from everyone. Everyone has an opinion on how we as a nation recover, and proceed—including me. So here goes...
1. The Outpouring of National Grief.
You don’t need to educate me on the level of pain felt when a child is lost—just the thought of losing my own practically brings me to my knees. S---, I sat in the parking lot of Mineta Airport doing my best Ashley Ferl for an hour when my daughter went to Samoa for a month. It’s pretty safe to assume these (former) parents have had their souls ripped out.
As a parent, I know that in that situation, the last thing I’d want/need is for strangers to heap their “thoughts” and “prayers” on me. Prayers would be worthless, since the one thing all (religious) parents pray for is long, healthy lives for their kids. As for thoughts, how is it comforting for a mom or a dad whose son has been riddled with 11 bullets to know that some fat sow in Tulsa is “thinking about" them?
True, the entire country—with a few mentally-diseased exceptions—grieved for those lost in the massacre and felt the need to do…something. Anything. Anything to try and make it easier for the survivors. However, short of possessing Klaatu-esque powers, any attempts, well-meaning as they may be, are little more than band-aids. Typing comforting words in the comment box of your local newspaper does....nothing. No victim is going to read it, for starters, and even if they did, it won't help. At. All.
2. Fluff and Filler.
Once the initial shock wore off and law enforcement began to release information about the victims, news media worked hard to not just tug at our heartstrings—CNN and company straight tried to rip 'em right out, apparently unconvinced that picturing 20 bullet-ridden kids as well as three bullet-ridden defenseless young women would do the trick. (Not saying the other four deaths weren't sad; just paintin' a picture. Work with me.)
For example, upon announcing the burial of one murdered child—sad enough in and of itself—one outlet felt it pertinent to attach a totally benign and irrelevant factoid: "The first funerals for the Sandy Hook shooting victims will be held today. Laid to rest will be (Jack Pinto) and six-year-old Noah Ponzer, who loved reading."
The final three words spoken in as solemn a tone as conceivable, and left hanging in the air for a couple of beats.
Editors: it wasn't necessary. If the idea of kids being slaughtered like livestock didn't induce tears from viewers, one of their generic hobbies wasn't going to. Just sayin'.
While I'm on the subject, KCBS' report around 2:00 pm PST on the day of the shooting must be addressed. By that time, it was clear 27 innocent people were dead, as was the shooter, and all that remained was to try to process the preceding horror. During a KCBS update, the anchor closed her update with this lame attempt at allaying her audience: "President Obama is being kept up-to-date on the shootings."
Uh...so? What the f--- can he do at this point? President Obama's informedness only matters if he is inside Sandy Hook Elementary attempting to apprehend the shooter himself, or if there are enough gunmen inside the school to warrant deployment of troops. Which was possible if you listened to some of the early reports, leading us to...
3. Inaccurate Reporting.
Unfortunately, there have been so many 21st-century mass shootings in the USA that, were it not so insensitive, erroneous reporting could carry its own Internet meme.
Case(s) in point: if we were to believe the initial reports out of Connecticut, Nancy Lanza was a teacher at the killer's school. The killer wasn't even the killer; his brother was. Police shot the killer dead. 30 people died including 12 children. A second gunman was seen running across the campus. An explosive was set. The Super Mario Brothers were pulling children to safety through little green pipes located near the school.
Okay, I made that last one up. Not that the media isn't capable of such a botch job. Dating back to 9/11 (5k dead, not 3k), the Quake of '89 (300 dead, not 64) Columbine (the killers were not part of the Trench Coat Mafia and never were), to the recent Dark Knight massacre (how many tears were unnecessarily shed over the 100% false report that a 3-month-old was shot to death in the theatre?). Rob Williams, moderator of my preferred radio program The Rob, Arnie & Dawn Show, often admits he gets far more accurate breaking news reports for the show from British news stations than from our own.
How sad is that? You would think if inaccurate reporting could wreck the career of an icon like Dan Frikkin' Rather, the Maserati of journalism for four decades, lesser clods would strive for nothing short of perfection. Sadly, and embarrassingly, the media makes the improper assumption that we the public want the news fast, not necessarily right.
4. How To Prevent A Repeat.
I'm going to say what most of those in society with a public forum are afraid to say: you can't stop crazy. You can't. Most of the assailants in the recent mass shootings (including but not limited to Sandy Hook, Columbine, Fort Hood, Aurora, Virginia Tech and Tucson) had no criminal record, no documented mental illness, little if anything to indicate they were capable of such violence. Short of assigning an armed guard to every friendless loner in the country...what do you do? What can you do? If someone wants to kill you...they will, plain and simple.
And who's to say how many massacres have been prevented by existing laws, such as the five-day wait, the five-year ban for 51-50 patients, etc.? Whenever anything bad happens, our guilty society steps into (often overreactive) action with some of THE most ridiculous proposals—chest protectors for Little League pitchers when a line drive kills one; bulletproof booths for all toll collectors after one's psycho ex shoots her at work, for two examples—put forth.
"Oh, I know!" say the politicians. "We should make tougher gun laws!"
First of all, if someone's internal wiring is scrambled enough that pumping unarmed women and children full of lead registers as an acceptable act, does anyone really think he will be concerned with obtaining the weapon legally? Isn't it safe to assume that if a psychopath is intent on killing, which is a crime, he won't mind committing a lesser crime such as theft or illegal firearm possession to further that goal? It's like a married man who regularly bangs other women...but won't make out with them out of respect for his wife.
Stiffer gun penalties won't stop crazies because A) they're crazy, and B) they often kill themselves after their rampages.
"Oh, I know! Let's just ban guns altogether!"
Good luck getting the 40,000,000 guns that are already in circulation back. And stopping new ones from being smuggled in.
"Oh, I know! Let's arm all the school personnel!"
That's a great idea! That way, if a student gets under the skin of an already-frazzled teacher who's going through a divorce, struggling to pay the mortgage, and warding off a migraine, he/she can just whip out a .44 and calm things down!
If you arm all the faculty, do you then arm the movie theater ushers? And the Congresswomen? Let's not forget that psycho gunmen shot and killed members of our Armed Forces in Fort Hood and Reno. Trained soldiers couldn't even stop psychos with an ax to grind against society...and people try to argue Mr. Belding could? (Google it; I'm not here to talk about the past.)
In closing, let's just face it: it's a scary world, full of disturbed people with every legal right to own a gun. Making it to old age is not a given, guns or no guns. All we can do is try to be good to one another and hope for the best; the rest is out of our hands.
Rest in peace, victims of the Sandy Hook shooting.
I sincerely hope you did not suffer.