The grotesque necessity for immediate debate
posted at 11:31 am on December 20, 2012 by Ed Morrissey
Jonah Goldberg encapsulates almost perfectly how I’ve felt about the Newtown massacre story and the rush to demand a solution to something that may be insoluble. Decrying “the rush to impose reason on horror,” Jonah felt the same reluctance to engage in a debate while parents couldn’t even access the bodies of their murdered children — and the need to do so, thanks to the exploitation of the horror by some who just couldn’t wait:
I haven’t written much about the Newtown shooting. I did write my first column of the week about it because I felt I had to chime in. But I resented it. Maybe it’s because I’m becoming too sentimental about kids. Maybe it’s because I’m sick to death of death. Maybe it’s some other personal failing on my part, but I nonetheless resent being dragged into the political maw so quickly after a bunch of little kids were picked off by a madman with a gun. I agree with 90 percent of the things written by my colleagues about guns and gun control and the Second Amendment over the last week, but I nonetheless find it a bit grotesque that it’s necessary for anyone to be celebrating or defending guns before these little, little, kids have even been buried. It feels indecent to me.
And, yes, I understand fully that this is what the proponents of gun control are hoping for. They are driven with the unseemly desire to exploit the unseemliness of defending gun rights at a moment when gun rights are at their maximum vulnerability. And so it may be necessary to push back on the hysteria and misinformation being peddled 24 hours a day by those desperate not to let this crisis go to waste. But, please, don’t tell me that there’s nothing unseemly about it. Even the NRA recognizes this basic fact, which is why they wisely clam up after such tragedies. Would that their enemies — and some of those on the right all too grateful for the opportunity to celebrate guns — had the same restraint.
Be sure to read it all. I chose to refrain from opining on it until Monday evening, when I guest hosted for Hugh Hewitt, and only addressed the terms of the debate in a column the next day. There has been a certain level of ghoulishness that seems in almost direct proportion to the level of ignorance already displayed in this debate, and it’s more than “a bit” grotesque.
A conversation on this subject would be useful when people are ready to listen to each other rather than lecture and harangue, and especially when people stop doing this:
Here’s Jim Sleeper making a parody of himself by muttering something about segregationists and gun owners. Yesterday, Barack Obama slyly suggested that the shooting in Newtown is a good reason for Republicans to cave on tax hikes. That’s grotesque.
And here’s our friend Charlotte Allen, writing for NRO. Allen says some things I agree with here, but her effort to blame this tragedy, at least partly, on the fact that it was a “feminized” setting strikes me as somewhat perverse; if only there were real men there to attack the murderer with chairs or staplers or something. First, I find this utterly unpersuasive, in part because she makes little effort to persuade. Plenty of men have been killed in other mass slaughters, some of them in the process of trying to tackle the shooter. And women, including the Newtown school principal, have been killed in the same manner. Indeed, as others have noted, Allen gets the facts wrong about how many men worked at the school anyway.
Why not just wait for the facts to be known, rather than just climb on old hobby horses? Because some people care more about the hobby horses and winning old arguments. And that is also more than a bit grotesque.