DECEMBER 18, 2012
When tragedy strikes, the hysterics rule
BY WES PRUDEN
“If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs . . . yours is the earth and everything that’s in it, and which is more, you’ll be a man. . . ”
Well, maybe. But Kipling is an old guy who has nothing to say to us. Being a man is not even the proper 21st century response to crisis. We’re all modern here, so we must emulate frightened, hysterical old women like Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City, who thinks he knows how to silence the guns.
President Obama should ignore Congress and write out an executive order tomorrow morning to make the streets safe for everyone, including all the little kitties. “The president,” Bloomberg says, “can introduce legislation even if it doesn’t get passed.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California promises to introduce legislation to curb the power of “the gun lobby.” Sen. Charles Schumer of New York gets in his usual rail about guns and the nuts who own them. Mayor Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, where people-shooting is the municipal sport, says it’s time “the leadership in Congress will have a vote of conscience.” Since only gun hysterics have a conscience we can imagine how Hizzoner expects that vote to go.
It’s not just the politicians who are wetting their pants. Someone should call 911 because the CNN newsroom needs medical help. “For the past three days,” cried one correspondent on air, “I have been on the verge of tears every second and most of the people here have been crying 24 hour straight.” Ed Schultz of MSNBC, where creepy crawlies have leapt from Chris Matthews’ thigh to run up and down random legs in the newsroom, thinks there’s no time for due process: “It’s the confiscation of these types of weapons that counts and will have an impact.” Bob Schieffer of CBS News is relieved that the Connecticut shooter is a good Judeo-Christian American: “If this person had had, I’m sorry to say this, but if he had had an Arab name people would be going nuts about what we ought to do right now.” What an odd thing to say. People with Arab names have done evil things sometimes – the Fort Hood massacre comes to mind – and there’s no record of anybody going nuts over it. But it sounds like the right thing to say.
Hysteria and frenzy are clearly the way the politicians and media elites think we should deal with tragedy. These media worthies might better spend their tears and lamentations over the reckless coverage of the tragedy, when speculation, supposition and make-believe were presented as fact. Errors included the wrong number of the dead, the false identification of the shooter, the wrong guns identified, and the way the shooter was dressed. Tragedy was compounded by media ghouls who descended on surviving children and parents, stuffing microphones the size of beer cans in their faces to ask, “how did it feel?” Alas, editors have been chased out of the media.
Only reluctantly, some questions are raised now about whether such shooters are usually crazy, and what to do about them. A recent survey by Mother Jones magazine found that 38 of the 61 shooters in massacres over the past three decade “displayed signs of mental health problems prior to the killings.”
Prof. William Jacobson of the Cornell University Law School suggests that laws inspired by the ACLU make it difficult to identify and intervene with known nuts. “Will we address mental-health and educational-privacy laws, which instill fear of legal liability for reporting potentially violent mentally ill people to law enforcement? I doubt it.”
No one wants to talk about the tawdry and violent pop culture that has become a tsunami of blood and gore. An entire generation has been poisoned by a steady diet of television and movie shootings, knifings, explosions and assorted trauma.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, suggests we need to look into our hearts.
“What is it in our culture, what is it in our society that leads to this type of violence? Is it that we are so focused on ourselves? Is it that we don’t regard the dignity of every single person, the value of every single life, as something precious? Have we created such a mindset in our country that human life isn’t considered any longer precious, sacred, something we’re not allowed to take? We have to do some soul-searching.”
Good questions all, but there’s more media bang-bang with guns.
Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.