Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Politicizing tragedy

I was driving back from my interview (more on that later) this afternoon, when I came across Sean Hannity's radio show. This show, like most of the news over the past couple of days involved the shootings at Virginia Tech. Hannity was ranting about the about how "liberals," the "pundit class" (presumably liberal pundits), and "reporters" (we all know how liberal they are) are politicizing the tragedy of the shooting to make political hay. The sole basis for his rant was the fact that Rosie O'Donnell spoke about gun control on The View this morning. Hannity gave no other example of the liberals politicizing this issue.

Rosie is indeed a kook. She's said numerous nutty things over the years. She's even a 9/11 conspiracy theorist. But she's one host out of four on a weekday morning gossip show, for crying out loud. She's hardly the spokesdyke for the Liberal Media Conspiracy.

The ironic part is that I originally intended this blog post to be about the fact that both President Bush and John McCain couldn't even comment on the Virginia Tech tragedy without mentioning their support for gun rights. Hannity did the same in his rant.

Shortly before listening to Hannity and having to turn it off in disgust, I had been in Southern IL listening to Scott Doody on The Working Man Show. This gun nut kept saying that even though we give the government 50% of every dollar we earn, "we can't rely on the government to keep us safe." That's a fairly standard conservative, gun-rights talking point. (Hint: if you're paying 50% of your income in taxes, there's probably a deduction or fifty you're not taking advantage of.)

This guy kept ranting about the cops in Virginia and how they were "fat" and "lazy" and "incompetent" and stood outside the building for twenty minutes while the shooter rampaged inside. He went on about how, had he been there, he would have charged in guns blazing. This nut then goes on to suggest this whole incident wouldn't have happened if there had been a concealed carry law to allow students to wear firearms to class.

What a fucking idiot.

I had been listening to The Diane Rehm Show earlier, and she had an hour-long interview with three people who actually knew what they were talking about, including Susan Riseling, the chief of police for the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Riseling says that the police went to an "active shooter protocol," meaning the first four law enforcement officers, regardless of jurisdiction or agency form a diamond and storm the building. She said they came to the exterior doors and found them chained shut, but that stopped them for less than 60 seconds. Law enforcement (I'm not sure if they were campus or city police) were inside Norris Hall while the shooting was going on.

I'd also like to point out that it was only on NPR where I heard any mention of the victims of this shooting. They had several profiles on the students, professors, and resident associates that were killed during this, describing who they were and putting a "face" to this tragedy. I don't think I heard the name from a single victim from any other news outlet all day. SRN News, which seems to be the radio news source used by most conservative radio stations and self-describes as "Christian radio's definitive source for news," didn't mention the victims, except to point out that two were members of Campus Crusade for Christ, and that Virginia Tech has a strong CCC presence.

So, please, don't tell me that it's the liberals that are politicizing this event and how it's the conservatives that just want to grieve and heal.


David said...

Like the VCDL head-case I quoted on my blog, the standard conservative response to this tragedy seems to be "Let's make guns even more freely available."

Because, apparently, a nation full of gun-toting vigilantes is supposed to make me feel safer, instead of inspiring me to barricade my windows and never leave home for fear of getting hit by someone's stray bullet.

Anonymous said...

Every group in existence is politicizing this for their own aims...even groups I like.

So far I've heard
-this is what happens when we let furriners into our great country
-this is why we should allow greater monitoring of phone lines and email to keep us safe
-this is a clear example of how unsafe women are and the rampant mysogeny (sp??) today
-this is an obvious example that people who have attended counselling sessions or those with a history of mental illness should not be allowed to attend colleges
-this is clearly a systems failure, this young man and thousands like him are clearly troubled and yet not helped by their teachers, peers, or institutions.
-we need to give the public more guns
-we need to tighten gun control
-this is clearly due to violent video games
-this is due to evolution being taught in schools (Tom DeLay, among others, voiced this)

And the always popular Westboro Baptist Church view:

-This happened because America doesn't hate gays as much as they should

Of course, they're protesting at the victims funerals

Most of the news sources I've read, including some local papers, the Times of London, and the NYT had profiles on the victims starting this morning. A lot of the identies weren't released yesterday. A lot of them still aren't released. One paper I read this AM had 4 full pages listing people who were killed, what they were studying, where they were from, what their plans were. It was hard to read.