Indecent: The Inhumane Response To The Newtown Tragedy

December 20, 2012 / 11:03 am • By Dr. Melissa Clouthier

When the BBC hosts pilloried me about remaining mute and not opinionating in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, I noted that it seems like we should at least be quiet until families are notified. It’s unseemly to be politicizing a very personal tragedy.

“This isn’t about politics,” one host shrieked,”it’s about GUNS!”

I responded,”Well, the solution to the gun issue the president brought up would be political.”

The host continued by saying that he felt the reason I hadn’t written about the tragedy and that the NRA hadn’t spoken about it was because we were ashamed. I countered with the fact that I was, presently, talking to the BBC about the tragedy and defending Americans rights to keep and bear arms. I was not ashamed to defend that.

But I was ashamed that defending the Constitution had to be done in this way at this time.

It was unsettling. It was too soon. And yet, someone had to push back against the philistines willing to ride on the backs of dead children to pursue their political agenda. And though sickened, I spoke up.

Jonah Goldberg captures this disgust nicely. Please read his whole post. Here’s a snippet:

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% 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.

It is indecent.

No, your ends do not justify these means.

I have to wonder: Do the folks indulging in this orgie of political posturing know loss and death? Are they so distanced from sorrow that they cannot empathize with the parents and suffering families? Are they such zealots for their cause that they’re willing to step on a heap of dead children to fight for it? Do they not see what they’re doing?

Maybe it’s just that when you’re a humanist, your instinct is to blame humans. If your worldview is that people are essentially good, that they’ve been nurtured wrong, or society failed, and then evil, evil guns were around, then blaming parents, doctors, teachers, gun manufacturers, “society” is the route one goes. And this time, the usual blamable subjects don’t quite fit that worldview. The boy’s mother, school officials, psychologists, everyone, were trying to do something to help him. The boy couldn’t be helped or wasn’t helped soon enough. Maybe he didn’t want to be helped.

So, it’s the guns and people who have guns who are evil. Someone must be blamed.

It is devastating to look at the deaths of twenty children and see the horror unfold in a lovely community (that did all the right gun control things) and for evil to still happen.

One feels helpless.

Helplessness is the natural human state. Humanists just live under an illusion — more laws, or better people, or the right resources will make all societal ills vanish. No, they won’t.

And so, we see folks fighting like badgers about guns, because it feels like Something Can Be Done. It’s better to be angry and active, then passive and helpless.

It is tougher, as Eugene Kennedy says, when tragedies strike, to accept what is. Andrew Malcolm and I interviewed Professor Kennedy about the Newtown tragedy.

Rather than talking about guns or laws or even mental illness, Professor Kennedy talked about the nature of man, of suffering, and of our walk on the earth. To me, it seems like we should be talking about those things.

Instead, we’re talking about guns. It is, as Jonah says, indecent.