Green Room

The grotesque necessity for immediate debate

posted at 11:31 am on December 20, 2012 by

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.

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The leftists are hell-bent on getting something – ANYTHING – passed to strip us of our 2nd amendment rights because they know that the average person’s reservoir of righteous indignation only runs so deep. That and they know that their own low-information voters have the attention span of a housefly. If they’re going to do something, it needs to be done now, before anyone has a chance to catch their breath and actually think about it.

CurtZHP on December 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM

The libs will never listen it’s their way or the highway

You’re either with us or against us pure and simple

cmsinaz on December 20, 2012 at 11:46 AM

This horror would be immediately exploited, we knew that. We’ve watched the scrupulous devour Mexicans specifically for this same reason. Devoid of fact, logic, or truth, or real empathy their goal is total tyranny.
How many crimes in this country commited with firearms were committed by already banned weapons? Weapons illegally obtained, essentially already banned?
You see the story of a shooting in say D.C.,the kid shot says something like,”We should ban all guns.” Great quote for a puppet media. But the truth is quite probably the kid was shot by just that, a gun illegally obtained, or owned (like by a felon). In essence, an already “banned” weapon. What’s the percentage of gun crimes commited by “already banned weaponry”. 99% plus percent? And what percent of the total number of firearms in this country is that, .02% maybe?
Okay your turn puppet media.

onomo on December 20, 2012 at 11:52 AM

Oops. unscrupulous I meant.

onomo on December 20, 2012 at 11:54 AM

I too am disgusted by the politicization of tragedy. Unfortunately, that’s the world we allowed the left to build.
We’re in a long war with an enemy that is hateful, vicious, callous, unprincipled, and opportunistic. If we’re to have any chance at all we have to engage them without quarter.
We find the necessity to argue before the grieving is done distasteful because we are decent. The enemy has no decency and has used our decency as a powerful weapon against us.
America is nearly lost because decent people have been reactive and tried to maintain a defensive rear guard action.
We must go on the offense or America will die and our children will grow up in a soviet utopia.

single stack on December 20, 2012 at 12:17 PM

As they say. Hard cases make bad law. Gun haters are determined to make some bad laws from this hard case.

Scrappy on December 20, 2012 at 12:18 PM

Would that their enemies — and some of those on the right all too grateful for the opportunity to celebrate guns — had the same restraint.

Moral equivalence PLUS ignorance of the Left? Go for it, Jonah. It’s what you’re good at.


rrpjr on December 20, 2012 at 12:31 PM

Why not just wait for the facts to be known, rather than just climb on old hobby horses?

It goes beyond that, Ed. It’s a matter of letting people – the important people, the ones who have actually suffered as a result of this heinous act – have a decent space to grieve and deal with this shift in the bedrock of their lives.

Jonah mentions the primal need to *do something* when something like this happens. But, once again, the liberals turn that into doing something to *fix it*, rather than merely doing something to help. The proper understanding of this is that evil is among us and always will be until we depart this earth (singly or together). The progressives think they can somehow *fix* it all – enough money or education, or the right mix of laws or incentives – and make the world a heaven on earth. It won’t happen; it *can’t* happen.

The proper conservative response is to let a piece of our hearts grieve with the parents and families in Newtown, then – later – to coldly and dispassionately examine if we have perhaps made a mistake somewhere in our laws to make this sort of thing harder while not infringing on the rights of our free citizens. And, if we find that to be the case, then we set about convincing our fellow citizens of the need to fix it – without undue emotion and without capitalizing on the deaths of the children.

GWB on December 20, 2012 at 12:32 PM

I agree, except for the fact that the Left didn’t hesitate to crank up the gun control arguments while the bodies of the dead were still laying the classroom.

Bitter Clinger on December 20, 2012 at 12:42 PM

The entire “debate” has been nausea-inducing. Those addicted to violent video games aren’t the only ones who have been desensitized.

ConservativeLA on December 20, 2012 at 2:06 PM

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