If these killers seek recognition, it is available to them because the mass media can be counted on to pay a great deal of attention to their horrific deeds.
If hypocrisy were an intoxicating spirit, Andrew Rosenthal would be a master distiller. A few hours after the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, Bryan Fischer, an official of the American Family Association, tweeted: “Shooters attack an elementary school in CT—another ‘gun-free zone.’ Makes children sitting ducks.” Rosenthal, the New York Times’ editorial page editor, highlighted the message and added his own comment: “Sickeningly quick.”
Rosenthal had a point: Fischer should have been more circumspect. The point about gun-free zones was a pertinent one, but it would have been more tastefully argued a few days later.
Yet Rosenthal and the Times showed no such circumspection. Three hours later Rosenthal sent out a link to a Times editorial, which appeared in the next day’s paper but was published earlier than usual on the web, and which used the massacre as a peg to argue for gun control. “Bloomberg wonders… and so do we… when it WILL be time to do something about gun violence,” he tweeted.
David Frum was even quicker. As soon as the news broke, he tweeted: “Shooting at CT elementary school. Obviously, we need to lower the age limit for concealed carry so toddlers can defend themselves.” The sour sarcasm was especially out of place, and the comment was a bizarre non sequitur. Every school has adults.
Frum’s tweet drew many responses from people who found it offensive. In the afternoon he answered them unrepentantly in a Daily Beast essay:
It’s bad enough to have a gun lobby. It’s the last straw when that lobby also sets up itself as the civility police. It may not be politically possible to do anything about the prevalence of weapons of mass murder. But it damn well ought to be possible to complain about them—and about the people who condone them.
Of course you can complain about them. And they can complain about you, which is all they did. You can complain back, as you did, and so on and so on. It’s all part of the glorious free marketplace of ideas, albeit not its finest product. But the notion that your complaining is constructive while your detractors’ complaining is murderous is delusional.
This is typical. Every time one of these horrible shooting sprees occurs, countless voices in the media declaim that 1) we need a debate on gun control, and 2) the other side’s views are despicable and stupid. A central reason these gun debates tend to be futile is that gun owners think advocates of gun control will not settle for reasonable restrictions but want to deprive them of Second Amendment rights altogether.
They are right to think so, and Frum’s essay illustrated the point. He noted that earlier in the week, the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had struck down Illinois’ absolute ban on carrying concealed weapons. He didn’t mention that the court stayed its order for 180 days to give state legislators time to craft a new law that passes constitutional muster. That would seem an excellent opportunity for advocates of reasonable gun regulations to weigh in on just what they might look like. For Frum, it was just a reminder that those who disagree with him are contemptible: “The [ruling] moved me to revisit some writing I did this summer about the folly of imagining that law-abiding citizens make themselves more safe by owning weapons.”
Maybe there would be fewer mass shootings if there were no Second Amendment. But the same can be said of the First Amendment. A Washington Post story the day after the Connecticut shootings crystallized the point. Here are the opening paragraphs:
Adam Lanza was his name.
Adam P. Lanza, 20, obscure in life, infamous in death.
A really rambunctious kid, as one former neighbor in Newtown, Conn., recalled him, adding that he was on medication. He was the son of an accountant. A family member told investigators that he had a form of autism, a law enforcement official said.
And he will long be remembered.
That suggests to me a fairly simple answer to the vexing question of why people do things like this: They do it for recognition. Given the media frenzies that followed Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and the rest, they have every confidence of getting it.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?