One of my old posts suddenly got a bunch of hits. It was called “Thoughts on the Latest Mass Shooting.” It was not about this one, it was about one of the others.
I know that there has been another one mostly through glimpses in the social media. I can’t watch any more. I don’t want to see the grieving relatives and friends, the makeshift memorials. I know they are there. I don’t need to know what weapons the madman used or how many times he fired and what the timeline was. I know the answers to that: too many. Too short a time to change so many lives.
For the next week or so, there will be discussions about what could have been done, what this teaches us, what could be changed. We’ll hash out different ideas: better availability of mental health services, better systems to allow interventions with the potentially dangerous, making sure that when someone is in danger he does not have access to weapons with high capacity magazines. We will talk about our culture, and what social forces make a certain subset of our mentally ill young men (and they are almost always men) act out in this distinctive way. We will focus on some small aspect of the narrative that is different. This one’s deluded belief system blames women for his sense of vicious, impotent rage. This one blames the boss that fired him. This one was a returning veteran. This one blames the aliens. This one is on a mission from God. So we’ll talk about sexism, or schizophrenia, or PTSD or employment or religious extremism. We will do this with some intensity until a video surfaces of a celebrity kicking her boyfriend in an elevator.
We will change nothing. We will have decided, through our inaction, to accept that these events are a part of American life, something that cannot be prevented, like a natural disaster.
And when the next one comes, we’ll report on it in the same way: with shock and horror. I can’t watch any more.