Friday, April 20, 2007

Bleeding heart conservatives

If there's anything real behind the flood of Virginia Tech media coverage, perhaps the new national pastime is mourning. Even as the endless video loops of sobbing, candle-holding, snot-faced college girls seeking closure begin to taper off, we still have more editorials about contrived ties to Columbine and the Oklahoma City bombing with further exhortations to mourn, weep and seek "closure."

I am by no means hard hearted and that's why I resent the media milking these incidents. I resent the ideologues using them to rage against gun control and for gun control and against sex education and Rap music and abortion or any of the other shibboleths that come out of the woodwork like roaches at every opportunity some random act of violence provides. Most of all I resent the way attention is distracted from greater and just as senseless loss of life, for which we all bear some responsibility.

Since the Oklahoma City bombing, how many children have died horribly in school bus accidents, fires, tornadoes, hurricanes and swimming pools? How many Americans have died in Iraq? How many Iraqis? How many lives ruined and how many innocents blown to bits by God besotted suicide bombers. How many Africans have been slaughtered or died of a disease the US refuses to help fight because fighting it might promote sex? Where is the mourning?

The same media trolls who acted as if treason were being committed when it was proposed to read the names of the dead in Iraq on the air are happy to squeeze every last dime out of every last crocodile tear, every last video clip of mourning and wailing and piling up of teddy bears. They are happy to air every irresponsible, spurious and ridiculous conjecture as to why this happened and why it's a harbinger of the apocalypse and why we need to vote out the Liberals, arm the librarians or vice versa - what ever sells.

Some kid had a paranoid schizophrenic crisis and although it was visible to those around him, nothing was done until it was too late. It will happen again and it has happened before. Crazy cult leaders will kill their followers with cyanide and will kill people in subways with gas, burn people in their beds and blow up others with fertilizer. People will set fires and drown their children in bathtubs. As the world fills up with people the toll will grow and instant communications and corporate greed will make sure we know about it and see every drop of blood - and every tear.

there isn't much we can do about eliminating the very small risk each of us has or being killed by a nut job without becoming an authoritarian, totalitarian police state. Every one of us has a vastly greater chance of being killed by a "soccer mom" than a by psychotic college student and every one of us loses as much when we go to war, killing and being killed. Death has yet to take a holiday in the Middle East or in Africa or anywhere else. What do crying kids, maudlin ceremonies and lugubrious displays of grief do to put a stop to the deaths we can do something about?


d.K. said...

I note Charles Krauthammer's column today is entitled, "A Moment of Silence" where he bemoans the media's attention to all those canards you mention above, and argues silence is the best approach to this tragedy. He then writes his full, usual essay, discussing the difficulty with institutionalizing mentally crazed people in our humane society, etc., etc., etc. Harrumph!

Capt. Fogg said...

It probably is hard to commit someone against his will, but I think a large part of why we have so many crazies at large is because we don't want to spend the money. It's also hard to say that one guy is a nut because he hears voices telling him what to do and another does the same but says it's God's voice, but I think it's always going to be impossible - in a free society - to eliminate all risks as some of us seem to think necessary.

No one seems to care that overall violence seems to be decreasing or at very worst not increasing and no one seems to care what price we pay for safety. It's getting hard to sell people on the benefits of liberty with the government and its dogs, the mainstream media trying hard to make us all desperately afraid.

Intellectual Insurgent said...

Have you noticed that there are more and more horror films being made these days? I think people love to be scared, whether it's a ghoul under the bed or a foreigner with a mental illness. And our leaders like us to be scared because then we are more pliable for their demented social experiments and will not stand in the way of their power lust.

This was well-written as always. You need to submit for publication to

d.K. said...

I wonder if this young man's being "Korean" is relevant at all to anything? He came here when he was eight years old. I grew up in a small town where everyone was born, and our novelty was the annual "foreign exchange student." But, I currently work with a woman who moved to the U.S. from Argentina at age eight - she's as Argentinian as I am Norwegian. I'm no expert, but I just don't get the whole "Korean foreigner" angle. I guess even raising this question furthers the story that is one of rare tragedy and that's it.

Intellectual Insurgent said...


A bunch of the reich wingers have used this as another excuse for foreigner bashing, building walls and all the usual garbage that spews from their empty brains.

Capt. Fogg said...

The "nativist" movement has been around since this country was founded and I've always been amused that it didn't apply to all natives.

It still doesn't and if you're a fifth generation American of Japanese, Chinese or non-European extraction, you're still going to get asked if you speak English and you're still going to get hassled in customs and you're still going to be seen as a provisional American at best. Muslims of all flavors are our new Freshman class at Xenophobia U.

We see what happens today if one makes stupid wisecracks about African-Americans but as yet, other groups don't have as much of a voice or support group and so make an easier target.

This kid's ancestors could have come over the Siberian land bridge 13,000 years ago and he'd still be a "Korean" rather than just a paranoid schizophrenic. All in all, it's more comfortable to associate these things with a "foreigner" which we are not in danger of becoming, rather than a mental case which, as I observe every day, is entirely more possible.

That's a good observation about horror films and other fear films are popular too. I wonder if it isn't because we in North America actually live in a very safe society. In insecure times, we seem to like happy fantasies. In the '30s when life was tough, we got Fred Astaire and the Wizard of OZ. Now we get horror flicks. We also have a lot more death-defying sports.

Maybe we need a bit of fear to make ourselves feel alive - I don't know.