Normalizing the intolerable

Here is an article about the Virginia Tech shootings, over a decade ago. It’s remarkable how little has changed, how little has been done.

The cell phones in the pockets of the dead students were still ringing when we were told that it was wrong to ask why. As the police cleared the bodies from the Virginia Tech engineering building, the cell phones rang, in the eccentric varieties of ring tones, as parents kept trying to see if their children were O.K. To imagine the feelings of the police as they carried the bodies and heard the ringing is heartrending; to imagine the feelings of the parents who were calling—dread, desperate hope for a sudden answer and the bliss of reassurance, dawning grief—is unbearable. But the parents, and the rest of us, were told that it was not the right moment to ask how the shooting had happened—specifically, why an obviously disturbed student, with a history of mental illness, was able to buy guns whose essential purpose is to kill people—and why it happens over and over again in America. At a press conference, Virginia’s governor, Tim Kaine, said, “People who want to . . . make it their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them. . . . At this point, what it’s about is comforting family members . . . and helping this community heal. And so to those who want to try to make this into some little crusade, I say take that elsewhere.”

You remember Tim Kaine, right? Democrat? Failed vice presidential candidate? It’s not just Republicans with their heads in the sand. Guess what? I’ve got nothing but loathing for politicians who see their constituents murdered, and who do nothing but kowtow before the NRA. (Kaine does have an “F” rating from the NRA, which just shows how little resistance you have to exhibit to get dinged by those ghouls).

Here’s another dismaying story from 2016. A woman is in an abusive relationship; the guy is good looking and intelligent, but becomes progressively more possessive and controlling. It just gets worse and worse, but she’s in denial and tries to see the man she loves in this domineering, temperamental monster. The relationship doesn’t end until he shoots her in the face.

It’s a metaphor for America. We’re also in a terrible, abusive relationship, where any outsider looking in would say it’s obvious, you’ve got to break it up, you know this is bad for you, why are you tolerating this impossible, self-destructive affair? Get out! Get out now!

Only it’s worse, because in this metaphor, he shoots us in the face, and we don’t leave. He shoots us in the face again, we don’t leave. He shoots us in the face every few days, and we say, “This is not the time to dissolve our relationship, he just shot me in the face. I need time to heal!” And he shoots us again.

We’ve always got an excuse. It’s way past time that we stopped rationalizing this deadly relationship and ended it.


  1. gijoel says

    As long as a chunk of Americans continue to see guns as a tool of empowerment and status nothing worthwhile will ever be done.

  2. lotharloo says

    It seems Kaine was a little bit misrepresented here but his original position was not really inspiring to begin with.

    This seems to be the full quote:

    QUESTION: Mr. Kaine, some gun lobbyists — or pro-gun lobbyists have said that if students were allowed to carry arms, somehow [inaudible] it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was.

    KAINE: Look, I think that, you know, people who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it, you know, their political hobby horse to ride, I’ve got nothing but loathing for them. This is not a political hobbyhorse or a crusade or something for a campaign or for a fundraising mailing.

    At this point, what it’s about, is comforting family members, doing what can be done to make sure that they have the ability to see their family members, that bodies can be released to families, and helping this community heal. And, so, to those who want to, you know, try to make this into some little crusade, you know, I say take that elsewhere. Let this community deal with grieving individuals and be sensitive to those needs.