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Tuesday, 15 January 2013

What I learned (or failed to learn) at Sandy Hook P.S.

I once had a faint glimmer of hope for a silver lining in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

For a while there, it looked like something was about to happen. Remember the frustration in Obama's voice when he gave that speech in the high school auditorium and spoke about how something needed to change in the American social landscape? It wasn't the loud, "this will no longer be tolerated" frustration that comes with feigned outrage, more the "parent meets arresting officer" kind. The one where you're so crushed with disappointment you can't even process what the hell just happened.

For me, that was a genuine moment -- it was exactly the way I felt. It was the way we all felt. How else are you supposed to react to the news that a regular looking dude, in a regular American suburb, went into a regular American public school and killed 20 regular American children, in cold blood, two weeks before Christmas? For a brief moment, nobody was "pissed off and not going to take it anymore;" nobody had all the answers; nobody was distractd by the best MNF game of the entire season -- we were sitting in our living room, stunned and disappointed at how something like this could happen in a society where it had no reason to happen.

Yet oddly enough, there was a cautious optimism that snuggled its way into my cozy living room on that cold December night. For some reason, I genuinely believed in the wake of unspeakable tragedy, we as a people were perhaps ready to put away our petty grievances and finally have a reasonable discussion about contentious yet pressing issues like mental health and firearms legislation. I smiled -- as I witnessed the '49ers thwart a Tom Brady comeback to beat the Patriots, it seemed everything was right with the world. I went to bed that night with a warm fuzzy feeling in my stomach.

Maybe things were finally going to change.

Well, it's been a month. Where are we now? Let's see... my living room is freezing, the Patriots are favoured to win the AFC Championship, and the international Sandy Hook discussion has devolved into a gun control debate between Midwestern PTA moms who will never see a gun in real life (yet think they're somehow qualified to legislate gun specs based on how scary they sound), and crazed rednecks whose superiority complexes are so uncontrollable they've deluded themselves into believing guns weren't designed for the sole purpose of killing things.

One thing hasn't changed, however; there's still cause to be heartbreaking-ly disappointed in our society. That's where I'm at right now; I'm President Obama giving that speech in the high school auditorium. I'm your mom after you come home in handcuffs, covered in puke. I'm your super-sweet girlfriend who will have another shitty Valentine's day because you put your rent money on black again. I feel let down. I have so many questions I don't even know where to begin:

Like, "how do we continue to ignore the overwhelming absence of support for people with mental health issues and their families?"

Or, "is it not clear to everyone that people like Adam Lanza aren't in the right frame of mind to be wandering around the streets like the rest of us without some sort of professional help?"

I could go on for hours:

Does it ever occur to anyone that violent video games and a lack of spankings haven't turned the vast, VAST majority of our generation into school shooters, and instead maybe, just maaaaaybe, there's something wrong with these people's brains that makes them do fucked up shit?

Does it not make more sense to deal with somebody who displays violent tendencies before they commit a crime instead of throwing them in prison after the damage has been done?

Do people actually think these violent criminals are "losers who snap one day" and there were no signs to suggest the capability of deranged, violent behaviour?

Doesn't it seem a little ironic that school boards are spending so much money on security, when the vast majority of people affected by gun violence are introduced to it not by catastrophic acts of violence, but through a lack of education and subsequent poverty?

How can the NRA continually act in the most cruel, ignorant, insensitive manner at the least appropriate times and still have a growing member base?

How can CNN continually give the NRA and other groups like them a platform to spew their deranged, tin-foil hat theories in the wake of such gut wrenching tragedies?

Does it never occur to anyone that assault rifles and handguns aren't the only way to kill people?

Does it never occur to anyone that assault rifles and handguns are designed specifically for killing people and therefore it might be a good idea to have a licensing system/background check/holding period to screen people before they buy one off the shelf at their friendly neighborhood Wal-Mart?

Like shit, I don't even know. I don't have any answers, and since nobody seems to be interested in having a civil discussion about this whole incident, I don't think I ever will. The only thing we've learned from Sandy Hook P.S. is that we're not in any position to have a mature discussion about anything, any time soon. Oddly enough, I'm fine with that -- if a mentally unstable man killing two dozen women and children in a Connecticut public school doesn't get us to engage each other in a civil, respectful manner, I have no fucking desire to find out what will.

So, I'm done. I'm not angry anymore; I understand how this works, Society. We're different people -- you're not going to change and that's fine. I'm not going punch holes in the drywall, I'm not going to throw your shit on the lawn, and I'm not going to call dudes you hang out with and leave angry voice-mails at three in the morning. I'm taking my stuff and I'm gonna go chill at my parents place for a couple of weeks. Don't call me, I'll talk to you when I'm ready. Good bye.

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