Friday, 20 July 2012

Talking Points Before The Blood Has Dried

posted 7/20/2012 by the Salt City Sinner

Early this morning at the opening of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, a bloodthirsty lunatic named James Eagan Holmes threw tear gas grenades into the theater and then opened fire, killing twelve and injuring more than 40 people.

Eagan was apprehended in the parking lot of the theater; he brought a gas mask, bulletproof vest, rifle, shotgun, and two pistols to his private murder party. His actions were abominable and Aurora is still in shock from today's tragedy.

That hasn't stopped a few ghoulish individuals from attempting to make ideological gold from lead, however.

One friend of mine on Facebook barely waited for the blood to dry before swooping in on the wings of a vulture:

Current TV didn't waste any time either:

One commenter on Current TV's Facebook hit the nail on the head, in my opinion:

Elderly Caucasian plutocrat and nanny-stater Michael Bloomberg (declared Mayor of New York City by the ancient tradition of "handing the title to the richest guy they could find") is not one to pass up cheap opportunism either:

Michael Bloomberg is calling on President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney to respond to the mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., by detailing their plans to improve gun control  
In his weekly WOR Radio appearance on Friday, Bloomberg said that "soothing words are nice." But he said it's time to hear the presidential candidates "stand up and tell us what they're going to do about it."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg (photo by Craig Ruttle)

There are two issues here, essentially.

Issue one is whether it is ever appropriate to use a national tragedy to score political cheap shots and try to advance your agenda. I come down pretty heavily on "no" regarding that question - and I like to think that I'm not a hypocrite here. Left, right, radical, whatever - if you hear about something like what happened today in Aurora and your first thought is "Hot diggity! This will make great ammunition in the X-Y-Z debate," your priorities and/or brain are rotten right down to the rancid, pustulent core.

The second issue regards the efficacy of gun control and/or its relevance to what happened in Aurora at all. As far as I can tell from police reports so far, no extraordinary or unusual weapons (with the exception of tear gas grenades - and it will be interesting to see how that story plays out) were used in this crime. To stop this guy from obtaining a shotgun or handguns, you would have to go beyond the normal limits of gun control and into the province of truly draconian gun restrictions, a place few advocates of gun control are actually willing to go, for practical and political reasons.

A tragedy is a tragedy - heartlessly shoehorning it into some pre-conceived ideological framework to further your agenda is disgusting.

Update: I suppose I should have stated from the outset what I was thinking so hard I didn't feel the need to articulate: my thoughts are with the people of Aurora, and especially those who lost loved ones, or lost their lives.

My thoughts are also with the many, many people in this country who have had their lives touched malignantly by gun violence of any kind. There is an epidemic of this sick, frightening type of thing unfolding, and whatever your opinions regarding the Great Left/Right Divide, this should be something that everyone can agree we need to work on eliminating as a country. Something very dark is going on in America's soul (such as it is), and gun violence is the most obvious, lethal and awful symptom.


  1. The second issue you raise violates your stance on the first issue you raise.

  2. Adam hit that one out of the park.

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  4. I'm not using the events in Colorado to make an emotional appeal one way or the other on the issue.

    If I were raising a second issue that violated my stance on the first one, it might sound like "obviously if more people conceal-carried, this wouldn't have happened - an upstanding citizen could have taken this guy out" (which is a claim I'm starting to hear from the right and in Libertarian circles now)

    1. I didn't go into nuance because I liked the succinct clarity of my comment. But I'll be more detailed:

      There's not a strong case that your post comes from an intent to advance a political agenda or use this incident to add emotional punch to some sort of argument one way or the other as far as guns go. It's pretty clear that the intent and gist of the post is that utilizing tragedy to advance a political agenda within hours of the tragedy happening is pretty tasteless and inappropriate.

      So perhaps it's too strong to say you violated the principle you established in the first issue. But your argument about the efficacy/relevance of gun control takes the stance that gun control would not be effective in this instance and is possibly even irrelevant. To take such a stance when so much is still unknown, whatever your intent, reads as very political and as using the circumstances of this case to support the agenda that gun control reforms wouldn't prevent such tragedies.

      So, yes, to say you violated your principle is too strong. But the penultimate paragraph of this post is a political statement that is not relevant to the argument you are making and serves to weaken the entire piece.

  5. Adam, DeBone, I disagree. His first point is that it is morally wrong to exploit victims of tragedy for political gain. His second point is that it is also nonsensical to do so based on the facts in the case. Seems consistent to me. I had the same reaction when I read about what happened this morning and saw the spin doctors already at work.

  6. Pot/Kettle.

  7. @Anonymous - not sure I follow your logic ("Pot/Kettle")... when did I make the claim that right-wingers don't do this? in this instance, Gohmert (who has already proven himself perhaps the dumbest son of a bitch in Congress, which is *saying something*) is acting like a tool.

    the slap-fighting on partisan lines - Maddow pointing out Republican stupidity, NewsMax reporting Democratic stupidity, etc. - is incredibly disappointing, but in this one instance, I think the bleats are louder from the left than the right.

    1. Well most of the "everyone should carry" folks probably know enough about guns to realise the futility of an "upstanding citizen" trying to aim at the right target in a dark, crowded theater through a cloud of tear gas. Otherwise they'd be all over this.