Tragic events like yesterday's school shooting bring out the best in people. Teachers and pupils have been praised for timely actions that saved many dozens of lives from Adam Lanza's rampage. But, unfortunately, tragedy can also bring out a sense of brazen self-righteousness by those who believe they have a stake in the fall out. I wrote yesterday how the smoke that normally clouds America's gun control debates gets thicker in the immediate aftermath of yet another entirely preventable mass shooting. And sadly, so it has proven.
Scant hours after news of the shooting broke, Bryan Fischer, a talk radio host on the Christian American Family Association was quick to score some theology points with his bible-thumping listeners. He suggested secularism was to blame. You see, if there were classroom prayers God would have intervened to prevent the shootings. Apparently, there were no school shootings when Fischer was a boy because they honoured God with their daily prayer. Okay then. Absolutely nothing to do with the seismic shift toward a more individuated, atomised and violent culture at all.
Of course, with heavenly protection on your side Fischer concludes nothing has to be done about weapon proliferation, and so the Second Amendment should remain. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor, Republican presidential hopeful and Fox News contributor (a political health warning label if there ever was one - pictured) argued exactly the same point. He said "We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?" (source) I think the ready availability of guns has more to do with it, Mike.
You've got to appreciate the Christian right's famous compassionate conservatism.
But in the conservative arms race to offer the most inhumane and counter-intuitive responses, Ann Coulter has taken an early lead. Her "solution" isn't intensive sermonising or gun control. No, what America's schools need is a proliferation of guns. Coulter argues that if more people were allowed to carry concealed weaponry, and if guns could be carried on to school premises, mass shootings would cease. Apparently, it's the defencelessness of schools that make them such inviting targets for killers like Adam Lanza. Nothing to do with the social-psychological complexes of real and imagined grievances such men have, nor the ease with which the unstable and the dangerous can lay hold of automatic weaponry. So, in all seriousness, Coulter is saying she is happier to see American classrooms witness shootouts between teachers and gunmen than have the inalienable right to own assault rifles challenged.
So much for the misanthropic extremism that passes for mainstream conservatism in the United States. Over here the usual idiots have so far kept quiet. Nazi Nick Griffin is away addressing fascists in Catalonia, apparently. There has been some back and forth on Twitter over whether the EDL did or didn't tweet this, and it will be Thursday before the Weekly Worker publishes the inevitable riposte against gun control on the grounds of its workers' militia shibboleth. It's just as well precious few people take the extremes of the right and the left seriously.
None of these are what any reasonable person could count as serious contributions to the gun control debate. It's trolling for the sole purpose of preventing such a frank and evidence-based argument from taking place.
But of course, it falls to the Daily Mail to shame us with its appalling journalistic practices. From their coverage of the shootings this morning, they wrote:
The Mail doorstepped the grieving parents of one of yesterday's victims. Where would we be without our free press?
(H/Ts to @EDLNewsXtra, @johnthelutheran)