So it seems that some guy killed a couple of television news employees while they were broadcasting. It’s interesting that here in the US this kind of thing has become a “dog bites man” story. Steve M linked to an old story in The Onion, “No Way to Prevent This,” Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens. That was in reference to a mass shooting. And let’s be honest: in today’s tragedy, there wouldn’t be much coverage of it. After all, it only involved two murders. According to the FBI, mass shootings happen about one every two weeks. But that doesn’t include all the data. And even more important: a “mass shooting” must involve four or more people. So two deaths doesn’t even count.
But I’m not going to talk about gun control or any of that here. This is because I’ve learned that now is not the time to talk about these things. I used to think that “now” meant the time right after one of these horrific crimes. But since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that “now” means literally “now”: at the current time. We cannot talk about the easy access to guns and our over supply of guns unless it is not now. And since it is always now, we can never talk about it. Thus, I won’t talk about it, because as it turns out, it is now right now.
But I was struck by this bit of reporting by CBS News, Gunman in Deadly On-Air Attack Dies After Manhunt:
Thank God for that! It would be terrible if it were terrorism. If it had been some Indonesian Muslim we would have been required to talk about terrorism and immigration. But we aren’t. It’s strange though. There are roughly 10,000 gun homicides per year in the United States — 25 per day — one per hour. There are more than double that many suicides. Since 9/11, there have been 26 jihadist murders in the United States. There have been 48 (generally right-wing) terrorist murders. That’s a total of 74. For those arithmetic fans out there, in 14 years, we’ve had as many terrorist murders as we do on a typical three day weekend due to all causes.
I only mean to compare these numbers because people get so freaked out about terrorism while we can’t talk about gun violence in a general sense. If this attack in Virginia had been about Islamic terrorism, we would get nonstop coverage of how we must do something about the terrorists and how the Iran nuclear deal is to blame and all kinds of other nonsense. On the other hand, if it had been right-wing terrorism, we would be hearing about how terrible it is that there are still pockets of racism in our country — and that it wasn’t terrorism. But as it is, this will just be about a disgruntled employee or a mentally unstable man. One thing it will not be about is guns, because after all, he could have used a knife or a pipe bomb.
I say we should either care about the causes of senseless killing or we shouldn’t. We could go with not: “Adam Ward and Alison Parker and twenty odd other people were killed with guns today — no story there.” Or we could go with caring: “Adam Ward and Alison Parker were tragically murdered and we must do something about it.” I think the former approach is the better one, because we all know what we are actually going to do about this horrible crime: the same thing we always do: nothing.
Despite the tone of this article, it is a tragedy that Adam Ward and Alison Parker were murdered, and my condolences go our to their friends and families.