Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Some thoughts on the Tucson massacre

Earlier I posted an excerpt from Lincoln's First Inaugural Address.

And now I find myself linking to Jon Stewart (from President to Jester). I haven't watched a full episode of The Daily Show in years, though occasionally I'll view some clips on the internet.

I'm glad I came across this one. He presents here probably one of the sanest reactions I've heard from a media commentator/pundit after the Tucson massacre. He also articulates some thoughts I've had while reading through the updates on the aftermath.

Even before anything meaningful was known about the killer and his state of mind and possible motivations (which are still quite muddled and all over the place, to say the least), various media commentators and politicians were already insisting on the narrative of their choice and using it for their own ends, trying to see if they could tie the shooter and his off-the-wall ramblings to any one party. Casting blame and deflecting and defending against it. Some earnest conviction here, but also no shortage of hypocrisy, grandstanding and dishonesty.

The details that have been coming out increasingly show a man who is deranged, with a history of deranged and disturbed behavior, and who is not politically active and has so far not been found to be a member of any extremist group (he was identified as a registered independent who didn't vote in the 2010 elections; that's the most definitive statement that has been made of his politics so far) - in fact his thoughts about government and people and life and the universe, if you have the heart and patience to sift through them, are like something out of scribbled science fiction; being registered for one party or another probably would have been minimally relevant to how he processes the world. According to friends (and some stuff found in his house) he also had some sort of weird fixation on Congresswoman Giffords for a few years now, after meeting her at a similar sort of event where he disliked her answer to a question he posed. (That, and added just now, he really liked movies on conspiracies, mind control, and altered states of consciousness - the article at the link talks about some of his life and also about his parents, who are going through their own personal hell, which I hope they can get through.) For the time being, this is the information we have.

Back to Jon Stewart. The monologue begins at 2:28 (the clip starts with some back-and-forth between him and a colleague, which is amusing but skippable). I really encourage you all to take several minutes to watch it:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Prayers for Gabrielle Giffords and her family and friends; I hope her recovery is steady and sure. Prayers also for the people who were wounded and the six who died (Christina Green, Dorothy Morris, John Roll, Phyllis Schneck, Dorwin Stoddard, and Gabe Zimmerman), and for their families and friends, who are going through hellish times; I hope they find strength, support, love and healing.

Some other brave, decent people: Daniel Hernandez, a college student at the University of Arizona, who had been working as an intern for Giffords for only five days. When he heard gunshots he ran towards the crowd, getting there in the immediate aftermath. He might have saved his boss's life; he held Gifford's head and applied pressure to the head wound. He then stayed with her and kept holding her hand when the medics took over. Patricia Maisch, who wrestled ammo away from the shooter and prevented him from reloading his gun, and Retired Colonel Bill Badger, Roger Sulzgeber, and Joseph Zimudie who tackled and held down the shooter.

I'm tired of hearing that society is in a hopeless state - worse than it's ever been. (Study history, including the history of political rhetoric, and that assertion falls apart.) I also don't want to see a further breakdown in political discourse or acts of political opportunism and demagoguery because of a lone deranged killer (with his blank smirking mugshot, nihilism, and scrambled thought processes). Right now everything about this tragedy is especially raw, everyone's talking about it, but it's also possible to pause, take a breath, and think.

Stewart's monologue was a breath of fresh air for this reason. I found it thoughtful and decent.


naida said...

What a tragedy this is. I think Obabma's tribute last night was moving.
And I do agree, there is as Stewart says 'anonymous goodness' in this world. He's someone that I do take the time out to listen to when I see he's adressing something.
Great post.

Anonymous said...

Will there be real change from this?

Lucy said...

Every time I see Jon Stewart I think I should make the effort to seek him out and watch him more often - he can be found on digital British tv.

Thanks for this and for your thoughts too.

Relyn said...

it's also possible to pause, take a breath, and think.

Yes, Oh yes. For this situation, and so many that life throws at us.