In the blurb for last Friday’s news feed, I composed a flip introduction to the reports about the murderous school shooting in Texas committed by a kid named Dimitrios Pagourtzis, which had happened earlier that day: “Today’s school shooting was held in Santa Fe, Texas.”
I’d used the same formula for introducing school shootings once or twice in the past. This time, however, a reader took exception to my ghoulish sarcasm, and emailed me with his reproach:
I’ve been a long time reader of your site, and I agree with the vast majority of your viewpoint. While I KNOW that no disrespect was intended, the comment hurts.
I wrote him back with this reply:
Yes, well, it’s a sardonic, sarcastic way of presenting it (which I’ve been using for a while), and it’s meant to hurt. It’s intended to remind the reader what a media circus school shootings have become. The lavish media attention and feting of the victims’ families helps GUARANTEE that there will be more — and worse — shootings in the future.
THAT’S what my sarcasm is about.
The media frenzy that accompanies school shootings these days is driven by a couple of cultural imperatives.
The first is the hoary old newspaper adage: “If it bleeds, it leads.” That was true when Caveman Og chiseled the first edition of the Neanderthal Times. It was true when everyone read at least two newspapers every day, one in the morning and one in the evening. And it’s true now, when we all have access to fourteen gazillion cable channels. The story with the most slaughter and gore is the one that grabs the most viewers.
And this is especially the case when children are the ones who are bleeding. Och, the puir wee bairns! Whether it’s the victims of terrorist violence in Chechnya, or dead baby porn on a beach in Anatolia, or high school students shot up in art class — stories about children as victims of violence are fascinating to the general public.
The second reason that school shootings cause such moist eyes in the media is their major subtext: gun control. Democrat politicians wait a decorous period of time — in Joe Biden’s case, at least two or three hours — and then their litany begins: Haven’t there been enough school shootings? It’s time to get serious about gun control!
This imperative has become even more urgent since the election of Donald Trump. A large chunk of the president’s support comes from Second Amendment enthusiasts. Even the most skeptical libertarian gun owner regards the president more favorably than he does any other major political leader. These are the people that put Mr. Trump over the top in his contest with Hillary. They are the primary wellspring of intractable American orneriness. And it is essential to the Deep State that they be quelled and subdued.
Which means they must be disarmed.