The Twitter comments, Facebook posts and talk-radio commentary began shortly after a former student massacred 17 people in a Florida school last week. Most involved the usual drivel spouted after mass shootings.
Thoughts and prayers.
Guns don't kill people, people kill people.
Now is not the time to talk about gun control.
Blah, blah, blah. We've come to expect deflection and talking points, most noticeably from our weasel politicians (mostly Republican) who are so owned by the National Rifle Association they're willing to continue to avoid any meaningful action-or even discussion-on guns. They trade dead bodies for job security.
The salary and benefits are wonderful. The consciences are empty.
None of this is particularly surprising or shocking anymore. The shootings are so commonplace and the reaction so predictable that, tragically, the United States is becoming numb to it all. Massacres used to elicit outrage and agony. Now, it seems, they too easily lead to acceptance and shrugs.
For a media guy, there is one growing reaction that is particularly galling-maybe because it's increasingly being floated by good people who should know better. Not only the right-wing nut jobs who frequent the talk-radio world, not the uneducated wannabes who slap together blogs, not the keyboard warriors who clutter social media with their ignorance. No, normally rational and decent people.
"The media shouldn't report on shootings. Don't use the shooter's name. Don't interview people who safely escaped the shooting, especially kids. If we ignore these shootings, maybe the bad guys won't get the idea in their head to shoot up schools."
Among the many dumb ideas to stop mass shootings-or are we just trying to slow them at this point?-ignoring them would rank No. 1. The purpose would be what, exactly? To pretend they didn't happen? To bury our heads and hope the bad news goes away? To shield us from the reality of tragic, bloody massacres?
No, that's not how any of this works. We, the media, report news. Bad and good. Depressing and uplifting. Wars, famine and pestilence as well as unicorns, rainbows and sunshine. We reported two World Wars and the Holocaust, so we're going to report about students and teachers getting mowed down by an assault rifle.
If you don't like it, that's tough. Somebody needs to tell the gruesome tales, share the stories of terror told by those who survived, even report on the nauseating details of particular deaths.
Maybe if people read about the shattered families, heartbreak, trauma and suffering caused by these gun deaths, something will happen someday to stop the massacres. At the rate we're going, it's not likely. But we have to believe the truth will win eventually.
To ignore reality is to let the weasel politicians and blood-stained NRA off the hook. That is their goal, to have us all move on and pretend nothing happened. They don't want to find a solution to the problem, they want to sweep it under the rug. It is our duty to not let that happen.