Saturday, December 15, 2012

12/12/12 and CT shootings show country at crossroads

I'm still thinking about the mass shooting at a Connectivcut elementary school that ended up with 28 people dead, my reaction isn't sadness or fear. It's disgust and a bit of anger. Now maybe some of this is because I don't have kids (although I have neices and nephews of this age), but mainly it's because I'm tired of these mass shootings, and I'm especially tired that nothing seems to be done in the wake of them. It feels like I wrote this same article after the Sikh Temple shootings in Oak Creek in August, and the the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and several other in Tucson in January 2011.

And yet we do next to nothing about the base causes of these horrible crimes- the lack of treatment of mental illness, particularly in young adults (heck, Scott Walker just said yesterday the Milwaukee County Mental Health Center was "old and busted"....after his own cost-cutting negligence helped lead to the busting), and the availability of guns for these unstable people to "solve" their problems and take out their frustrations in the most horrible of ways.

Now contrast this to another event on the East Coast that happened 2 days prior to the Connecticut shooting, when huge musical acts donated their time to perform at the 12/12/12 concert in New York City, and raised tens of millions for victims of Hurriance Sandy. This is the good side of America, where we recognize people that have been beset by hard times through no fault of their own, and we come together to help those individuals through the tought times. We understand that these awful circumstances could happen to anyone, and that everyone can't make it on their own through those situations.

So how does this coexist with a country where a teacher and mother of 2 grown kids reportedly had "a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle" in her suburban Connecticut house- weapons that her mentally ill son used to kill elementary school kids and teachers, along with his mother and himself. What possesses someone to be in such a state of fear for their safety to have to buy high-powered guns that serve no purpose except to intimidate and kill? Especially in a country where a lot of us also believe in taking care of our own and that our whole is better than the sum of our parts?

The late great Bill Hicks accurately described this conflict in 1993 with a not-so-funny sign-off on his HBO special.

Sounds like he could do that bit today, doesn't it? That's probably the saddest part of it all - a lot of people in a lot of parts of the country don't seem to have learned much in the 20 years since I got out of high school. Which is why we have to crash their bubbles, and yes, we have to talk about uncomfortable things like gun violence, and inequality in a country that talks a big game, and has the capability to live up to it, but far too often falls short.

Choose wisely, folks.

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