Opinion: Theater Shootings: A Politicized American Tragedy
When the news broke regarding the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre early Friday morning, shock and disbelief didn’t run through my mind as it would have at hearing such news years ago. Instead, my mind and soul fell limp as if to react “not again” when it was announced that 12 persons died.
Maybe my lack of shock is due to my proximity to some of the very worst murder rates in the nation – the neighborhoods in Chicago – where there are summer weekend nights claiming a similar number of lives due to senseless gunshot violence.
Hours later, early the next morning, there were news stories which stated the appropriate. President Barack Obama was cancelling all campaigning to return to the White House. Mitt Romney stopped all offensive and defensive rhetoric for the day. The television, radio, newspaper, and social media outlets were flooded with politicians’ shocked and heartfelt reactions to the horrendous story which was changing by the minute.
At one point, it was reported that 12 had died. Hours later, reports were saying 14 had died. For a brief moment on Saturday night, a report said that 15 had died. By Sunday morning, the total was back to 12. There were so many news outlets trying to be the first to get an update of the horrendous details that there was a cross of mixed information.
Yet, whether it was 12, 14, or 15 dead wasn’t what was numbing to the masses. What grabbed the nation and shook it back into reality was the fact that it happened again. As thoughts and conversations of Columbine, 9-11, Fort Hood, and Gabby Giffords’ horrendous attacks reignited over the weekend, we were sadly reminded that we still haven’t learned what it will take to end such tragedies in our nation.
While President Barack Obama responded most appropriately to the nation as “consoler-in-chief” again with his words and travel to the center of the disaster, there were others who unfortunately couldn’t refrain from their untimely need to politicize the massacre.
Discussions of gun control, naturally, began after the initial shock of the incident began to subside – though the shock will never subside for those close to the tragedy who have lost a loved one. There will be time in the future to speculate what allowed such a grim episode to repeat itself in American society as well as what could have been done – if anything – to stop it.
Most bothersome was when I heard a progressive talk show suggest – scarcely before details had started to be released regarding the event and the murderer early Friday morning – that the person who committed the multiple murders was probably a “dittohead”. A “dittohead” is a fan of conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh. The remark – utterly extreme and tremendously inappropriate, due to its timing – was unconscionable. I was sickened at the host’s need to opine and politicize when it was details of the horrendous event people were listening to hear – not a slam against conservatives.
Much like learning of 9-11 and too many other national tragedies, this horrific massacre was one of those moments in history when people will forever remember where they were when they heard of the tragedy and how they heard of it. Due to an incredibly hateful and biased liberal talker on a progressive radio show, the radio network’s listeners were given a useless, non-productive, and horrendously disrespectful opinion – instead of detailed facts regarding the story. How incredibly wrong such a statement was. Then the progressive talker had the audacity to tell listeners to stay on that radio station for the latest details on the story.
I changed the radio channel before more liberal hate was spewed.
Were I the person’s superior, that person would be at the end of a long unemployment line this morning. Anyone who has been given the responsibility and privilege of sitting next to a public radio microphone or in front of a television camera in this country needs to display the good common sense and respect to drop politics, at least for the moment, to report a story – especially attacks that have no basis or place during a national tragedy.
Later in the day on Friday, erroneous reports linking the gunman to the Tea Party surfaced – and were just as irresponsible. However, that report was somewhat excusable due to erroneous research of the gunman’s name on the Internet. There is absolutely no excuse for the progressive talk show host early in the morning who took the lead by commenting his hate and prejudice towards conservatives before hardly any information on the gunman had been released.
Predictably, after a somber, reverent, and respectful couple of days mourning the dead, the nation’s politics will forge ahead with more of an eye on gun control. Obama, Romney, and the Super PACS who temporarily silenced their campaigns for a couple of days will start swinging their campaign rhetoric in Colorado and elsewhere again. That, so it appears, would be as appropriate a time as any time to recommence.
Persons who only make our nation’s bad times worse by spewing ill-timed hate and prejudice ought to keep their microphones turned off.
About Scott Paulson
Scott Paulson writes political commentary for Examiner.com and teaches English at a community college in the Chicago area. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.