With 59 dead (including the shooter) and over 500 wounded the biggest mass shooting in modern American history is currently slipping down the rolling news agenda and will be on the inside pages by the weekend. The latest mass-murderer to enter the record books is white, aged 64 and with little by way of a criminal past. He is not a terrorist either, apparently. Your opinions may vary on that one. He was rich (by my standards at least) and a gambler with no known political or religious affiliations. We await the outcome of police examination of computer records and hard drives found at the site of the shooting and in his home, but there is no talk as yet of him being a part of any conspiracy or the tool of any Islamist group, claims by the IS notwithstanding.
And that about wraps it up. As the incident was unfolding and before the numbers of dead and injured climbed I posted on Facebook that there was nothing to see here, move along please and this is just Americans going about their regular business and having a bit of a cull. Fury erupted. I was shock-horror — unfriended. People I had been friends with for years expressed their anger at my callous and unfeeling/uncaring bluntness. They were hurt.
My compassion tap got turned off in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre as far as America is concerned. If the butchery of 20 children in their classroom is not going to shift America out of the vice-like grip of the gun lobby both in and out of politics then nothing will. There are far more deserving recipients of my admittedly limited stock of compassion, and I am not going to waste it on a state that continues to inflict wounds upon itself on a regular basis. There are others on my list of compassion-free zones but let’s stick with America.
‘Move along please nothing to see here’…because there is nothing to see. The stock media responses clicked into gear, tales of ‘heroism’ as the incident unfolded, survivors interviewed by breathless anchors dripping with faux concern. Hey…c’mon…they’re anchors, it’s what they do. The whole nine yards and it was nothing to see beyond rolling reportage. As these words are typed it has already dropped waaay down the schedule of news organisations that are not US based.
And there is nothing to see because there is nothing happening beyond the incident itself. The mighty wall of catatonia was up and running within seconds of first reports on the tickers. There is going to be no consequence beyond a rise in the sale of prosthetics and coffins. Offensive? Look again. See anything happening beyond that? Me neither.
Mass public protests outside of the political mainstream? Good heavens no. Vigils aplenty. Candle sales booming. Truckloads of prayers and heartfelt wishes rumbling along the highways to be unloaded somewhere in Vegas. A shed-full of memorial services this coming Sunday. Oh the horror the horror…and nothing is happening.
So people objected to my use of the word ‘cull’? First known use was in the 13th century. Today usually used in the context of a population reduction usually of a group of animals that have got too numerous. Deer are culled. So are humans, and this was nothing but. For whatever reason the culler had decided to take down as many of his own kind as he could given the considerable resources at his disposal. Terrible? Not really. America — in the big picture — is content for there to be regular culls of its populace, this being the price that must be paid for the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms. It’s the law.
To be sure there are friends in America that are aghast at my callous position, and they are anything but sympathisers with the gun lovers. Far from it. But they are a minority and a powerless one at that, neutered by a political system that validates the cull and yes is content and is going to remain so certainly for whatever is left of my lifetime.
We’re just cleaning up here…nothing to see so move along please. (Sound of water from hoses washing the floor of the concert venue…)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 5th, 2017.
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