The Newtown slaughter and deja vu


    Now that 20 schoolchildren have forfeited their lives to the Second Amendment’s “well-regulated militia,” and dozens of parents have had their hearts ripped out, I ask you to read my piece. And after you finish it, please read the italicized coda.


    So here we go again, we all know the drill by now. Politicians of all stripes offer their “thoughts” and “prayers” to the victims’ families. And cable television reruns the same video clips umpteen times, fills the airways with talking ranters…before we settle back into our routines, until the next massacre provides a temporary jolt.

    • WHYY thanks our sponsors — become a WHYY sponsor

    Seriously, what is there to say, in the aftermath of Newtown (or in the aftermath of the next massacre), that would be any different? Nothing is going to change. Dying a random death in the midst of random slaughter, courtesy of a well-armed wacko, is merely an occupational hazard in the land of the free.

    Our alleged leaders have nothing to say, either. They offer “thoughts and prayers.” What worthless twaddle.

    If the past is repeated (as it surely will be), we’ll talk for another week or so about the obvious feasibility of making it just a wee bit tougher for misfits to arm themselves better than the cops. We’ll again lament the statistical truth that our national gun-related death rate is roughly 16 times higher than the combined rate of 25 other civilized countries.

    We’ll bemoan the news that the Newtown nihilist had access to automatic weapons…because it’s a hallmark of red-blooded freedom to lock and load with the same efficiency that you or I might enjoy while surfing Amazon for headphones. And by next week, after the power imbalance in Washington has fully reasserted itself (the NRA spent $2.9 million on lobbying in 2011; the gun control groups spent $240,000), and after the politicians make it abundantly clear that they will do nothing, and after the “gun rights” talking heads have ceased asserting that any and all attempts to lessen the odds of future slaughter are tantamount to hating freedom, we will then commence the process of forgetting. Just as we have forgotten the mass shootings at that hair salon in Seal Beach, California, and at the community center in Binghamton, New York; and in that Pittsburgh neighborhood where a nut job with a private arsenal killed three SWAT cops…

    What, you don’t remember those? I rest my case.


    I wrote those remarks on this blog last summer – in response to the gun-nut slaughter at the movie theater in Colorado. For our purposes today, I simply removed two references to “Aurora” and replaced them with “Newtown.” The rest is verbatim from July.

    See, nothing changes. Right now there’s buzz that Friday’s massacre is truly the last straw, that now our elected leaders will finally take on the NRA, that President Obama will finally take the lead (he spoke yesterday of the need for “meaningful action…regardless of the politics”) – but don’t hold your breath. Guns are intrinsic to our hyperviolent culture, and dialing back on our fetish would be out of character. The voices of sanity will dominate the dialogue for a few days, but already we’re hearing pushback from sanctimonious hucksters like Mike Huckabee (“We have systematically removed God from our schools. Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”), and it’s only a matter of time before some gun fetishists suggest that it’s time for teachers to lock and load.

    I hope I’m wrong. I hope we won’t soon commence the process of forgetting. Just as we’ve forgotten the recent mass shootings in Minneapolis, in the Oregon mall, at the Sikh temple in Wisconsin…

    What, you don’t remember those? I rest my case.


    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1



    WHYY is your source for fact-based, in-depth journalism and information. As a nonprofit organization, we rely on financial support from readers like you. Please give today.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal