I should have known better than to look, when I saw an alert pop up from CNN. But I looked. This is what I saw.
It didn’t help matters that I immediately looked at the clock and realized my own children are still at school as I write this. I haven’t written about any shooting since Aurora. But I’m going to say the same thing now that I said then: Everyone should just shut up.
We should just shut up about it.
We should just shut up about it, because we aren’t going to do anything about it. We didn’t do anything to stop it. We won’t do anything to stop the next one, either. Nothing has made that so clear as the Aurora shooting; and not because of what happened, but because what hasn’t happened in the aftermath.
What hasn’t happened in the aftermath? Much has been made of the brief halt in the presidential campaign after Aurora, when both candidates took at least a day off from campaigning, and made official statements about the shooting.
We don’t know much at all about the shooter and his circumstances. We don’t know who he was, or how he got his weapons. We don’t know who he is, what connection if any he has to the school, or how he gained entrance. There’s much we don’t yet know.
But we know that he somehow got into a school, a 100-or-so rounds later another 20 30 people died in less time that it took to brush my teeth this morning. And have at least one answer to the question at least one person on the scene asked.
Nearly 20 people died Friday in an elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told CNN.
At least 10 of the dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School were children, the source said. At a news conference Friday afternoon, state police Lt. Paul Vance would say only that there had been “several fatalities.”
The school was secure, and the public was not in danger, Vance said.
“Why? Why?” one woman wailed as she walked up a wooded roadway leading from the school.
A parent who was inside the school at the time of the attack said she heard what sounded like at least 100 rounds being fired. She said she saw two school employees who had died.
Why? Simple. We haven’t done anything to prevent these shootings. Not because we can’t to anything to at least make them far less frequent, if not prevent them entirely. We didn’t do anything to prevent this shooting, or the one in Oregon earlier this week, not because we can’t, but because we just don’t want to.
So, spare me. Spare me any talk about “compassion” for the victims. If we had any compassion for them, we’d have done something to at least make it more difficult for some one armed with at least two guns (probably automatic rifles) and goodness knows how many rounds of ammunition to get into an elementary school.
Spare me any talk about how the teachers, principal, etc., “should have been armed.” (Or the student, for that matter. Just wait. Someone will suggest it.) If we’ve reached a point where we’d rather have more crossfire in school hallways than maybe limit access to guns even a little, then we have no hope. I’ll go one better than that, actually: if we’re that far gone, then we don’t deserve hope.
Spare me the moments of silence for the victims. That’s the problem already. We’ve already been silent too goddamn long. Granted, it seems like less and less time passes between shootings these days, but we’re already silent during that time. Our silence dishonors honor the memory of the victims. If we want to honor them, we need to raise our voicesnow.
Spare me any talk that “Now, is not the time.” Now is precisely the time.
Spare me the memorials and prayers for the victims. They are meaningless, we just go back to life-as-usual afterwards. Unless we’re going to give them meaning by acting to prevent the next mass shooting, we might as well not bother.
We might as well stop pretending that they didn’t die in vain. We might as well stop fooling ourselves that anything will change between this shooting at the next one. Nothing will change, because we won’t do anything about it; because we don’t want to.
Spare me any talk of “values.” Spare me any talk that “restoring the family,” instilling “family values,” putting “prayer back in schools,” etc., is the answer. Teaching more kids that man walked the now 6,000-year-old earth alongside dinosaurs isn’t going to do anything but sentence them to growing up in ignorance, and ignorance never stopped anyone from loading a weapon or pulling a trigger.
So, spare me. Unless we’re going to talk specifically about how we can prevent more unstable people from getting their hands on enough “weapons of mass destruction” (automatic firearms, and enough ammo to take out a city block), we should just shut up. We should shut up about this one and the next one. Because we didn’t do anything to stop this one, and we won’t do anything to stop the next one.
Spare me the meaningless tears. If all we’re going to do is cry, then we should just dry up. We weep every time something like this happens, and it doesn’t do a damn bit of good.
Spare me any talk that “our hearts are broken.” They haven’t been broken enough , obviously.
Spare me any flying of flags at half mast. We’ve done so little to protect our children that we should be ashamed to fly the flag anyway.
I said goodbye to my youngest son, as he went out the door with my husband on his way to school. I said goodbye to my oldest son this morning just before I ran to catch my bus and he walked the rest of the way to school. I said goodby to them this morning, like millions of parents do every day.
But unlike the parents of the 18 children killed today, I can be reasonably sure that my children will come back home this evening, and that I will see them again. Those parents were probably just as sure as I am — when they said goodbye to their children as they dropped them off at at school, watched them get on the school but, or walk to school — that their children would return home.
They were wrong. A guy with guns and ammo made them wrong. We didn’t do anything to stop him, and we won’t do anything to stop the next one.
So, we should just shut up about it.