In the modern media age we cannot simply observe a crime of the sort that happened in San Bernardino yesterday while waiting for facts to lead us to logical conclusions about the how and why of an incident. Rather pundits – from citizens with Facebook accounts to paid professionals on cable news – must immediately try to shoehorn the situation into a political narrative.
In the early hours of the San Bernardino incident I heard a CNN commentator say that the shooting was perpetrated by “white men” who were probably militia members given that the target was a government building. Turns out it was a devoutly Muslim man and his wife.
On MSNBC, literally just minutes after the news was breaking, the left-wing pundits were already reaching gingerly for a narrative noting that there was a Planned Parenthood clinic just a few miles away. The distance from the shooting apparently didn’t matter.
Not that the folks on the right were much better. I saw plenty of conservative friends assuming the shooting was perpetrated by Muslims long before those facts were in evidence. That they turned out to be right in this instance hardly excuses the rush to judgment.
[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]I saw plenty of conservative friends assuming the shooting was perpetrated by Muslims long before those facts were in evidence. That they turned out to be right in this instance hardly excuses the rush to judgment.[/mks_pullquote]
But perhaps the most obnoxious phenomena yesterday was the prayer shaming on social media. It’s become de rigeur for politicians to acknowledge a given tragedy, once it reaches a certain level of media coverage, with a “thoughts and prayers” social media posting or press release. These are sent out lest the politicians in question be accused by the social media hive mind of not being sufficiently distressed by whatever is currently in the headlines.
They’re meaningless pandering, of course, and politicians of all stripes do them. It’s rhetorical filler giving the politicians time to adopt their narratives to the situation. Except yesterday left-wing activists decided to attack Republicans for these statements, and the media is now making it a thing (see the New York Daily News cover above).
What’s ironic is that these “thoughts and prayers” statements, as ultimately empty as they are, really aren’t any worse than the rote demands for gun control these sort of incidents evoke from the left.
The problem with the gun control demands is that while they’re great for provoking angry debate, they too are just empty rhetoric. Unless someone can explain to me a specific gun control policy that would have addressed this situation?
The guns the attackers in San Bernardino used were legally purchased, and while we don’t know what state that transaction took place in, we do know that they were legally possessed in the State of California which has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country.
Also, by early accounts, the shooter and his wife were normal American citizens. “Living the American dream” one co-worker said. So what gun control proposal are touting that would prohibit a law-abiding (prior to yesterday’s events, anyway) Muslim man and his wife from purchasing guns? Are we going to deny 2nd amendment rights to adherents to Islam?
And if people bent on mayhem – people following some extreme religious or political doctrine, or people who simply develop a mental illness – are committed to that mayhem wouldn’t they find other means if we could deny them access to weapons? Something we probably couldn’t anyway given how singularly awful the government is as enforcing prohibitionist policies in general?
If you think the government can control gun sales, consider how wonderfully they’ve executed the “war on drugs.”
If you want to say that “thoughts and prayers” is empty rhetoric then fine, but so too is the mantra for gun control. We need to get serious about why these incidents happened, and quick focusing on what are merely the implements of the crime.