Monday Morning Murderers
For those of us who go to bed at a sensible hour, we did not hear the results of the Sunday night's match until first thing Monday morning. Groping for the phone, groggily hearing a voice through the radio, we snap to attention: another game has been played, and this one could be a record breaker. We eagerly listen as the details dribble in, desperate to know the particulars that will define the match; how many killed, how many wounded? Just one shooter? And, critically, is he (always a he) white?
Mass shootings, not baseball games, are America's true national pastime. We all watch the results of this unique sport, we can recite the stats and name the important players. Think of the classic, championship bouts of the past — we all know them: Newtown, Virginia Tech, Orlando, Dallas, San Bernardino, and, what still ranks as the "greatest" of them all: Columbine. The more traditional sports can only dream of the ratings big mass killings like these get.
This Monday morning, we heard about the classic work of a future hall of famer: fully automatic weaponry, a great venue — Vegas — high vantage point, innocent people, children, police officers all killed. Of course the shooter is dead. Pros don't live to play another game.
This is a blood sport, and shock and regret are part of the standard reaction. The obligatory thoughts and prayers are reverently offered by the game officials, our governors, congress people and presidents. As cynical promoters of the game, they expertly play their role. It's half-time entertainment, we all expect it, can recite it word for word. It's always the same.
America is the land of the free, and nothing points that out with starker clarity than a shooter killing strangers on the streets of an iconic city. We are free to kill one another at will — no government can stop us — it is just up to us.
Imagine a country where it is impossible — impossible — for you to kill dozens of your neighbors. Imagine the levels of oppression necessary to prevent it. The surveillance, the police, the restrictions on where you can be, what you can own. Hell on earth! It's hard not to see these mass shootings as a full-throated roar to the primacy and preciousness of our freedoms. Yes, people die, and that's tragic. But these victims are an intentional sacrifice to a greater good that exalts and preserves liberty, freedom, responsibility, to prove once again that what YOU want matters most.
This is absurd, of course. It should be possible to have freedom AND engage in the humanity of a large outdoor concert without worrying that we are exposed to these terrorists. We don't want to feel hopeless. We don't want to tell the mother holding her dying child on the streets of Las Vegas, to be comforted — she hasn't died in vain: the little girl died for her country, for the gun sellers, the enabling politicians, and the Stephen Paddocks of the world, so they can own machine guns, so we all can own machine guns, and speak freely, and vote, and watch TV, and on and on.
And yet, this is where we are...