Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Beyond Reason

Sorry, folks, but I really have to rant.

This morning I was watching television news coverage of that horrible church shooting in Tennessee. (For international readers, over the weekend a gunman walked into a church during a youth performance and opened fire, killing two adults and wounding seven others.) The news reporters gave some details of what happened, interviewed some witnesses and then, to no one's surprise, said that ridiculous thing news reporters always seem to say when covering tragic events like this: we still don't know the reason he did it.

I can end the mystery right now. Here's the reason. The man walked into a church with a shotgun and started shooting people because he's a frigging nut! Is there really any other reason, any valid thought process, that leads someone to enter a church and start blasting away?

It's a lazy reporter's cliche I first noticed when another psycho walked into an Amish schoolhouse a couple of years ago and started shooting little girls. Shaking their heads sensitively for emphasis, the newsmen reported they discovered why the gunman struck: he had had some kind of social rejection once upon a time and felt anger toward school girls.

Is what triggers some psychopath's individual demons really the "reason" he attacks? And are the news people somehow suggesting there are degrees of senselessness in those reasons for shooting people in churches and classrooms? Obviously, these reporters would never try to make a joke out of this tragedy; that would be disrespectful. Here's my point: is it any less so for them to infuse the event with artificial drama and a complete unwillingness to think about what's being reported? 


Not-Sure-If-Related Item: We Respectfully Request the Honor of your Going Ahead and Making Our Day

With the foregoing rant still fresh in my labanza, I saw this item today in the local newspaper, or what passes for one. Around dinner time this past Saturday night, a local woman, aged 60, was arrested for approaching her loud-partying neighbors with a handgun. According to the article, the woman "admitted bringing the gun out but denied pointing it at anyone, saying she had politely asked the family to keep the noise down because she was trying to sleep."We can only guess what Emily Post would suggest as a polite way for asking a neighbor to keep the noise down while you're holding a handgun. Maybe she had her pinky up while reaching for the trigger. In any event, for the next several months she'll no doubt be dividing her time between working with her attorney to prepare her defense, and writing thank-you notes to all those nice people at Smith and Wesson.


Totally Unrelated Item: I Have a Feeling We're Not in Kansas Anymore

A while back I wrote about some favorite movie quotes. I'm shocked - shocked! - to discover I somehow left out one that should have been at, or at least very near, the top of the list.

Wizard: As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don't know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they're unbreakable.

Tin Man: But I still want one.


It's Always Something

I wanted to end this on a positive note. This past weekend I had the most wonderful time working at an event - the annual "Noogie Carnival" - with an amazing group of people at a local Gilda's Club chapter. For anyone unfamiliar with it, Gilda's Club is a network of community-based support groups for people touched by cancer; that's everyone from the patients themselves to their families and friends, adults and children. The environment there is welcoming, well thought-out, and just plain phenomenal. They don't provide medical care, but complement it in the most warmly human way with emotional and social support. [Housekeeping note: I borrowed a good bit of that description from their mission statement.]  Named, of course, for the great Gilda Radner, it was started after she passed away by her husband, her cancer psychotherapist, and some friends who wanted to carry on the kind of community-based support Gilda herself had found comfort in during her illness. These are great people doing really important work. I've never used this space for this kind of item before (at least I don't think so), and I have no intention of making a habit of doing so, but in this case I'm happy and proud to make the exception. If you check them out - www.gildasclub.org - I strongly suspect you'll be glad you did.

And that's a rant I'm glad to share.



frankandmary said...

I visited a Gilda's Club in NY & it was a fantastic experience. One of those times I'd thought I was giving something, but soon realized I was receiving even more.  The kind of place that can change your standard mode of thinking. ~Mary

rdautumnsage said...

I've never been one to advocate gun rights...it's not that I don't believe we should have a right to defend ourselves; there are just too many incidents that might of been defused had there not been a gun in the equation. As for figuring out why someone would do the things they do..Some things need no explanation for the cruelty of the act itself other than the perpetuator being heartless. Which brings this comment down to the quote from the Wizard of OZ...I loved it. I also love the fact your rant ended up mentioning the Gilda Radner site. (Hugs)Indigo

gazker said...

Ben, we saw on our news channels the shooting in the Church. I am rather confused by your jottings as our news reporters stated that the reason the guy went loco in the Church, was because it was rather liberal congregation and they would not condem having gay clergy etc. Am I wrong here or have we been told something different to your own news channels.


imjacobnotjames said...

Nice post.

While I totally agree about the cliches that news reporters use shamelessly, I happened to come across this article about WHY he actually did what he did. He didn't like the church's "liberal" stance on things. Wow.


Just thought I'd throw that in. Carry on. ;)

totallymentalben said...

Since a couple of folks have brought it up, I should clarify: my mentioning the news people saying they didn't know the reason the gunman did it referred to the early reports I heard when the story first broke. Some time later the new information - his hatred of anyone he considered a liberal - became known. Gracias, amigos y amigas.

oldhousegal said...

I'm always amazed when people commit violent acts in God's name.  Hard to figure it out...