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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whatever Happened to Just Being Sad?

News moves at a blistering pace these days.

Soundbytes. Blips. Thumbs moving at incredible speeds on teensie QWERTYs. Tweets. Updates. Messages. Blip. Bling! Glang. Streaming tickers on the HD flatscreens in front of the elliptical machines at the gym. NPR. FOX. Everything in between, and everything beyond.

We're practically gagging on information and spin and doctrine and palaver. No, we are gagging. And, yet, we are anything but gagged. All of us, spewing and spouting, our mouths hundreds of paces in front of our minds-- left in the neuron dust. Bye-bye, brain. Won't be needing you very much today.

Googling "Gabrielle Giffords" at 4:35pm on Monday afternoon yields 76,900,000 hits. Approximately. Unbelievable. Incomprehensible. What is all of that? Is it information? Is it what we need to know, or want to, or dare to? What it is, I don't know. Now, after I hit "Publish," it'll be 76,900,001 (approximately) and I am disgusted with myself, almost to the point of wretching, for contributing to this profane noise, this internet abuse of a woman in a medically-induced coma, abuse of the corpses and memories of the victims of this appalling tragedy, this obscenity.

Hi. Here I am, another lout, contributing to the bloody mess. What a punk.

I swore up and down that I wouldn't. Of course I did. After all, it is just my style to eschew and reject what "everyone else" is talking about, as if I am some sort of badass, counter-culture barometer. Please-- what a fucking, very unfunny, very transparent joke. I promised myself I would write about something silly, maybe about different uses for bras (put one in the freezer overnight and then set it on the coffee table, fill it with candy. Haha-- what a comic genius) or some commentary about-- I don't know, inane food products or the way people look at you after you exit the restroom at work. I thought, "Yeah, well, that's what my readers want or need right now-- some levity to distract them from saturating over this deplorable situation." Like I'm going to come save you from the New York Times. Like I'm Chevy Chase, falling over a ladder.


I guess I realized that I ought to stop horseshitting myself, and you, and accept that there was, in fact, something about all of this that I wanted to say. It hit me while I was listening to Terry Gross interview some schlocko journalist about the very loose gun laws in Arizona, and, "would stricter gun laws have maybe prevented this tragedy?" She asked him questions about concealed weapons, and whether or not the Glock semiautomatic handgun would have been outlawed under this provision, or that, and how this "alleged shooter" in this incident did purchase his gun legally, but didn't have a concealed weapons permit and under what circumstances could a police officer (if one had been at this event) have stopped the suspect and frisked him after seeing that he had a concealed weapon, and I got so fucking furious I wanted to scream:


Then she pissed me off even more by asking, "Well, what about unconcealed weapons? What sort of questions would a police officer ask someone who had an unconcealed weapon?" This stumped her guest.

"Well, I don't know, maybe they wouldn't ask anything."

I was very upset by this point. How ridiculous was this conversation? I just couldn't take it anymore.

Was it the fault of the store that sold the gun?

Was it the fault of the second Walmart that sold the ammunition?

Was it the fault of the parents for not notifying authorities of bizarre behavior?

Was it the fault of mental health practitioners for not notifying the state or the criminal justice system?

Was it the fault of the court that threw out the arrest for drug paraphernalia?

Was it the fault of lax mental health reporting duties?

Was it the fault of law enforcement for not adequately stationing officers at the scene for VIP protection detail?

Was it the fault of the Secret Service and/or the FBI that does not provide routine protection details state-level politicians?

Was it the fault of Sarah Palin and her stupid fucking little target symbols on that map that I can't stand to hear another word about on Facebook or anywhere else?

Was it the fault of the vitriolic state of political debate in this country?

Oh. My God. Oh, my God.


We are so thirsty for answers, to insatiably horny over assigning blame, so unstoppably greedy when it comes to our relentless, pounding search for scapegoats and reasons and division or healing that any reason, any dignity, any sense of proportion or pause is just thrown right out the window. Mr. President, a moment of silence is a good start, but it's hardly sufficient. Maybe you should have ordered a day. Or a week. Could you, sir, have ordered us some time to just be sad?

What the hell ever happened to just being sad?


  1. Can't we just put things in perspective. A congress woman got shot. A congresswoman who is part of a government that's responsible for millions of deaths. I would cry, but my tears have run dry from seeing so many defenseless civilians who have died gruesome deaths.

  2. Hi, Scribbler. That's a very interesting perspective. For my part, I kind of can't think of a government out there that isn't responsible, in one way or another, for the death of its people or others.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly. But many childhood years of forced pledging of allegiance and whitewashed history leads citizens of all nations to mourn their own soldiers, public officials, etc. to a greater extent than civilians, despite the fact that the former are responsible for the vast majority of the death and destruction while the latter are simply trying to live their lives. Or as Anthony Hopkins put it:

    "Samuel chose to be a soldier and soldiers die. Sent to be slaughtered by men in the government. Parasites like you!"

  4. I blame science for not inventing x-ray glasses - then there would be no concealed weapons.


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