Friday, December 14, 2012

On the Inherent Politics of Tragedy

In response to the tragedy in Newtown, CT, today: 

I never understand the "don't politicize a tragedy" line. Why would we create laws if not for the tragedies that demonstrate to us their necessity? If we didn't respond to tragedies, we would never have environmental regulations (our response to loss of lives from air and water pollution), workplace safety protections (our response to the loss of lives from faulty machinery and lack of oversight),  food safety legislation (our response to the sickness and death caused by contaminated food), social insurance (our response to the poverty and early death of seniors), Medicaid (our response to the sufferings of the sick, the disabled, and the poor), veteran's benefits (our response to those who suffered injuries in wartime).....I could go on...

Do you remember that time when something funny happened and we made a law about it? You don't? WELL, NEITHER DO I.


If you say guns are not the problem, mental illness is, then you should be advocating for greater investment in mental health. If you say that guns are not the problem, culture is, then you should be working each day to build a more tolerant, affirming culture that rejects violence as habit, entertainment, or state policy. Yet if you oppose gun control legislation and oppose investment in mental health and insist on maintaining a cult of heroic violence as a societal ideal, then you are a hypocrite and are a large part of the problem.

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