Last Saturday a maniac shot several people. Tragic. The media jackals began to run with it and I went into a self imposed media blackout. I hate to see tragedy used for political points. I find the whole idea tawdry.
I expected a slew of generic gun control articles to hit front pages by Sunday. It’s as if knee jerk articles are already written and stored on a MacBook somewhere (it would have to be a MacBook!). The press waits for an excuse to print what they’ve already decided and the details of the actual event are almost irrelevant. I expected they’d rush to spew the usual verbiage about how this would never have happened if ammo were taxed, or trigger locks were required, or certain scary looking rifles were banned, or gun shows were outlawed. It could be a crazed maniac that escaped prison, broke fifty laws, and used a clothespin as a weapon; I’d still wind up hearing about how gun banned Europe is better than us American knuckle draggers. Plus, of course, there is the requisite cut and paste paragraph blaming George Bush and/or global warming.
I’m opposed to gun control and it’s depressing when the press starts beating that dead horse again so I avoided the initial feeding frenzy. By Monday I reluctantly rejoined society and read the news. Some was exactly as predicted. It wasn’t caused by George Bush but it was caused by Sarah Palin and FOX news. Who didn’t see that coming? On the other hand the blame game didn’t last as long or go as far afield as usual.
As for the knee jerk call for more gun control? I though it was uncharacteristically muted.
Also, there is a growing acceptance of the fact that people who go on crazed murderous rampages might be…crazy and murderous. Wow!
This is a breakthrough! A giant change in attitude. Sure the media wallowed in their own pet theories but they came to their senses eventually. I’d set the bar incredibly low but was pleased when they managed to clear it.
I didn’t hear the bulk of the chatter (it’s been a busy week) but while I was stuck in my car I thought I picked up a subtle but positive undertone on NPR. It felt like they wanted to nudge their intellectual allies away from the gun control path. It wasn’t much but I’m sure I picked up a subtle vibe. Perhaps some of the left are trying to tell the rest of the left; “don’t go there”? Maybe I’m wrong but I thought I heard a shadow of reticence.
Perhaps this reluctance to go off the rails is like what Borepatch heard:
On PBS, the usual suspects all lined up behind what the sane side of the blogosphere is saying – there’s no connection, the shooter is a lone crazy, the claim that Palin’s “targets” caused this is pathetic, the whole nine yards. They were all contemptuous and dismissive of the whole thing. All of them.
The press could have gleefully wallowed in their own crapulence. Instead they pulled back and didn’t skate on thin ice as much as I’ve grown to expect. Something has changed. I see it as a good sign.
There may be parallels on the right too. After the Republican sweep in November many people, myself among them, demanded that the Republican party and it’s newly elected majority restrain it’s base impulses. The jury is still out on how well the Republican party can follow that loud and clear signal.
If part of the right spectrum was saying “don’t go there” after an election sweep and part of the left was saying “don’t go there” after a tragic shooting; could there be a small movement of restraint? It’s hard to say. If I’m right, 2011 may wind up being a refreshingly sane year.