A brief word on “politicizing the tragedy” at Sandy Hook Elementary

sandyhookWe have heard, over the last 24 hours, all kinds of comment on the tragic shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. Predictably, much of the public response has taken the form of outrage over the broad availability of the weaponry used in these murders, to say nothing of other high-profile mass killings in places like Aurora, Colorado. And Chardon, Ohio. And Seattle. And Oak Creek, Wisconsin. And Minneapolis. And Fresno. And New York City, near the Empire State Building. And how many more?

We’ve also heard, every bit as predictably, that we shouldn’t “politicize” these tragedies. Somehow, arguing that gun policy needs to change is disrespectful to those killed as a result of our current gun policies. If those children had been killed by terrorists, though, we’d need to make martyrs of them before their bodies were cold – so that “we’ll never forget” or so at least we could “give their sacrifice meaning.”

Listen. I’m a gun owner. I have explained why, and nothing in that explanation suggests that I’m eager to hand over my weapons. I understand that this is a complex issue.

But this trope, this “politicize” meme, is utter silliness. Those who say we shouldn’t politicize the Sandy Hook tragedy are missing the point. It was, by definition, a political tragedy. The availability of guns is a political decision. It derives from laws that legislatures have passed. Lax regulations surrounding gun show purchases are a function of laws that elected politicians passed. The 2nd Amendment, whatever you may believe about its intent, was explicitly embedded, by the politicians we call “Founding Fathers,” in our nation’s most foundational political document. You might just as sensibly argue that we shouldn’t be politicizing elections.

I know we’re all tired of the corrosive effect that our politics have exerted on the society in recent years, and the deluge of campaign ads we had to endure throughout the course of this year was enough to test the patience of a saint. I know we’d all like our leaders to act in our best interests and to stop being so, well, political.

But pretending that something doesn’t exist doesn’t make it go away. When you get right down to it, there is very little about our lives that isn’t, in some respect, political. How we engage the politics of our world, our nation, our communities, is up to us. But let’s stop with the counterproductive, self-delusional denial. Let’s especially stop allowing ourselves to be manipulated by those who have a vested interest in us not “politicizing” these tragedies, because if we don’t, it buys them more time to work with their hired legislators to make sure that no more laws are passed. And that’s political, isn’t it?

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary yesterday was the direct result of political decisions our society has made. You’re not politicizing anything when you recognize and acknowledge something that was already politicized.

Tournament of Rock IV: KISS vs. Meat Loaf

Wow. I predicted Stevie Nicks in a landslide, and I was half right (Duran Duran scoring 59% of the vote constitutes a landslide, right?) Still, that seems unfair to the literally thousands of Stevie fans who showed up to vote and comment. This was the largest turnout in our four ToRs to date, in fact, so congrats to both acts. We’ll see DD again in the quarterfinals, when they take on the winner of the Rick Springfield/Foreigner match.

And now, onward. March Madness fans will tell you that the 7/10 match-up is always a dangerous one, and maybe it will be here, as #7 seed KISS squares off with #10 Meat Loaf.

fikshun: Both are kings of hype and self-promotion. Gene Simmons rocked the small screen in The Avengers prequel.. er…Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park. Meat was in Fight Club. Meat was in Rocky Horror Picture Show. Even though the latter came out the same year as Kiss Alive!, I’m still not sure if Paul Stanley gave birth to Dr. Frankenfurter’s persona or vice versa. Wow, this is a better match-up than the Dr. Phil/Josef Mengele tilt I’m hoping to see in the afterlife.

Bonesparkle: I always thought Meat Loaf was Bonnie Tyler before the sex change. It is so hard to keep up with you Americans and your pop stars.

Me: This is going to come down to the female vote. Gene Simmons can lick his eyebrows. Meat Loaf can…ummm…is sweat sexy?

Up first, an age-old existential question: why are we here? Well, I was made for loving you, baby. It’s like reading Sartre, isn’t it?

And now, I’d do anything for love, but ewww.

Click to vote.

Here’s the up-to-date bracket.

Time to push back against gun disinformation

One of these days it will be time to start pushing back against the disinformation, propaganda, and lies of the gun lobby.  I don’t know if today is the day, but I hope so.  Twenty little kids and six educators are dead–isn’t that enough?

Here’s the gun lobby argument in a nutshell:  the solution to gun violence is more gun ownership legal in more places so that law abiding citizens can protect themselves from the thugs who can get guns easily and illegally.

Here are some arguments we would dismiss as ridiculous:

“Cigarettes are safe and you should smoke more.”

“Acid rain is not a problem so we should burn more high-sulphur coal.”

“Man-made climate disruption is a myth, so we can burn more fossil fuels.”

Isn’t it time to start exposing the fallacies in the gun argument to make the “more is safer” argument a thing of the past?

After Columbine and other school shootings we’ve heard the argument that teachers should be armed. If you can remember your kindergarten teacher, try picturing her with a sidearm.  Imagine the increased risk posed by a gun around all those little energetic, eager hands.

Today we don’t have to let our imaginations run too wild to see the problem.

The most popular sites in a Google search for gun statistics, aside from Wikipedia (and that’s easy to manipulate as well), are all backed by pro-gun sources.  Since we know that people don’t dig too far for their information, these pieces of propaganda will have a huge impact on the impending conversation.  Some people may continue to be persuaded that we can do nothing to stop the violence.

But we can.

“But we have a constitutional right to own guns.”

Yeah.  Americans used to have a constitutional right to own other people.  Most of us think we got that one right eventually.

I’m not advocating repealing the second amendment.  But it’s time to address meaningful gun access and ownership restrictions.  Fewer guns in the market place means fewer guns available for potential criminals.  Just ask Mexico, whose drug gangs arm themselves from the US because it’s easier.