Our National Deja Vu
To paraphrase The Smiths, stop me if you think that you've heard this one before:
1. Horrible mass shooting tragedy occurs in a public place.
2. Media scrambles to disseminate information, unverified and unreliable as it may be, merely to justify the 24-hour news cycle.
3. Details about the shooting pour in from witnesses, leading to the determination of the death count, which is then splattered across online news sites' headlines and TV news stations across America and the world.
4. Half-assed speculation begins on the political beliefs, influences, and motivations of the shooter.
5. Suspect is caught.
6. Politicians, pundits, bloggers and even organizations speculate on what is to blame for the events leading to the shooting. Coincidentally, the culpability always just happens to lie with whatever said speculator already has a personal axe to grind. For example, people already crusading against violent movies put the blame on...wait for it....violent movies. Anti-gay preachers instantly blame it on....you guessed it...homosexuality and our society's "overly permissive" attitude toward it.
7. Idiot politician/pundit speculates that if others in the affected public place had been armed, there would have been less killing and damage, apparently living in his/her own personal fantasy world where "stray bullets" and "friendly fire" don't exist. Said idiot also fails to address the potential confusion of having multiple shooters on the scene, especially for police.
8. Celebrities and politicians, including the president and his political opponents, publicly express their sympathy for the massacre's victims and their families.
9. National pundits bemoan the loss of our "national innocence". Strangely enough, they've never seemed to notice or publicize this loss when it's been in the form of hundreds of "routine" shootings of innocent men, women, and even children(!) scattered across recent months in cities across the country like Chicago. Couldn't possibly be because many of those victims there were urban blacks or Hispanics, whereas these victims here are predominantly suburban whites, could it? Nah!
10. Suspect's name is published.
11. Suspect's arsenal is named and described. We learn that the suspect was able to obtain an unusual amount and type of weaponry much more easily than we would have suspected.
12. People begin questioning how said suspect was able to amass said weaponry so easily without setting off any red flags. They also wonder whether some of said weaponry is too powerful for private citizens to possess.
13. National Rifle Association and its supporters respond to these questions by repeating their "guns don't kill, people do" mantra while reaffirming the absoluteness of the 2nd Amendment, which was forged at a time when "high-powered gun" meant "musket".
14. NRA and its supporters also argue that even the most common-sense gun regulation would lead our country down a "slippery slope", the inevitable result being government removal of all private citizens' guns, leading to the eventual removal of all our other freedoms. Said "slippery slope" is not to be confused with the progression of supporting gun rights ==> squelching new gun regulation ==> squelching any conversation about new gun regulation ==> reversing pre-existing gun regulations ==> fabricating new gun-owner needs like "Stand Your Ground" laws. Totally different animal.
15. Media finds and releases more information about the suspect. And by "more information", I mean practically everything. Total 24-7 saturation coverage. Where he grew up. What schools he attended. His friends and neighbors (cue the obligatory "he was a loner" quote). His favorite activities. His favorite movies, music, and/or video games (the better to scapegoat them, you see). How he dressed. And, most importantly, his picture. That's integral for the next step.
16. Suspect's picture is plastered across TV screens, news websites, and newspaper front pages. Suspect's name becomes a household word in roughly one day. Media makes suspect THE story in the 24-hour national news cycle. All this despite years of trained psychologists instructing media outlets to avoid doing precisely that.
17. Meanwhile, another misanthropic young man watches the suspect's story on his TV and thinks "What if....?"
18. Time passes and both the media and the public turn their attention to other "shiny objects".
19. No meaningful steps to avoid a similar mass shooting from occurring are ever enacted. Instead, we get some trivial, needless, and overreactive new "security theater" measures which really serve no purpose other than to further inconvenience the citizenry.
20. We wait for the next Step 1.
Feeling the deja vu yet?