Charlotte Bacon, 2/22/06, female
Daniel Barden, 9/25/05, male
Rachel Davino, 7/17/83, female.
Olivia Engel, 7/18/06, female
Josephine Gay, 12/11/05, female
Ana M. Marquez-Greene, 04/04/06, female
Dylan Hockley, 3/8/06, male
Dawn Hochsprung, 06/28/65, female
Madeleine F. Hsu, 7/10/06, female
Catherine V. Hubbard, 6/08/06, female
Chase Kowalski, 10/31/05, male
Jesse Lewis, 6/30/06, male
James Mattioli , 3/22/06, male
Grace McDonnell, 12/04/05, female
Anne Marie Murphy, 07/25/60, female
Emilie Parker, 5/12/06, female
Jack Pinto, 5/06/06, male
Noah Pozner, 11/20/06, male
Caroline Previdi, 9/07/06, female
Jessica Rekos, 5/10/06, female
Avielle Richman, 10/17/06, female
Lauren Rousseau, 6/1982, female (full date of birth not specified)
Mary Sherlach, 2/11/56, female
Victoria Soto, 11/04/85, female
Benjamin Wheeler, 9/12/06, male
Allison N. Wyatt, 7/03/06, female
I’m no longer sad or angry or outraged, griefstricken or reflective. I’m simply numb.
Yesterday, my former student was trapped in a lockdown at Fashion Island, an upscale mall in Orange County, California because of a shooter.
On December 14, the 26 children and adults listed above, lost their lives. They were not heroes. They were victims, the most hated label in America.
I am fully persuaded that nothing will change as a result of Sandy Hook. We will not recognize the urgent need to fund mental health services, especially for those with severe psychoses who have trouble finding the correct medication or staying on it (Jared Loughner). Instead, mental health advocates will argue that most mentally ill people are not violent. True enough and the stigma is awful, but the reality is that a full blown psychotic episode can involve violence. Others will blame parents or medication.
Debates about gun control will be derailed by pretending that it’s all or nothing. They’re trying to take away your rifles! Most people want to lose the semi-automatics that play no role in sport or hunting.
The picture of a vindictive, sadistic Christian God will flow from Gov. Huckabee and the Westboro Church at either extreme. No wonder church attendance is down. Who would want to worship such a God?
The NRA will continue to put forward logically flawed arguments -guns don’t kill people …” that would make a first year law student at an unranked law school blush. And it will unleash piles of money and the slickest lobbying that the vilified teachers’ unions could only dream of.
The role of the media will be scrutinized. Its coverage of the incident will be blamed for sparking this and future incidents. It will make mistakes and pridefully refuse to correct them (Jessica is a hero! She died standing for Christ!) which will spark further cynicism which will, in turn, and so on …
The well established performance of grief will continue. The singing. The Facebook posts. The makeshift sidewalk memorials. The well meant but ultimately impotent pleas for compassion and understanding and change.
We will refuse to debate the issue because it is ill-timed or politicized, but an alternate time will not be suggested and, in fact, will never come.
Many will refuse to have a dialogue because any level of discomfort translates for them into an unacceptable blame game.
This much is clear to me. The outrage and anger and sorrow are real. And they are skin deep. Clearly, despite our protestations, we are content to allow the nightmares to continue. We will go back to the malls and movie theaters, attend class and go to work. We will urge, then pressure survivors to move on.
Columbine … Virginia Tech … Aurora …
And then the next one, and the one after that.
Activists and clerics and citizens must continue to work, but it is on faith and on credit for a day that they may not see in their lifetimes and, indeed, for a day which may never come.