Column by Paul Bonneau.
Exclusive to STR
By now it seems everything that could be said about Newtown, has already been said--multiple times in some cases. Here’s an attempt to bring something new to the discussion.
Why are people horrified? When I sit back and think about this, a few things come to mind.
First is the thing that virtually every parent must feel: the dread that they may some day have to bury a child. No decent parent wants to outlive their children, no matter how old the latter may be.
Second is the age of these 20 children in particular, 6 and 7 years. It’s distressing to think that these young lives ended so abruptly.
The third point is the picture we have in our minds of the event itself, of children running and screaming in terror for their lives, and the inability of any adults there to help them.
Looking harder at the first of these factors, of course it must be a very common occurrence. Over 2.4 million people die in the US every year--who knows what percentage of those are survived by a parent? It must be a significant fraction. So, despite the horror of Newtown, their deaths in this respect are far from special.
Going to the second factor, their tender age, we can look at another statistic . In approximately the same age group, 5 to 9 years, there are 835 accidental deaths every year in the U.S. It’s pretty clear a significant fraction of these are automobile accidents. Parents likely strap their kids into their minivans without a thought that they are subjecting these kids to 835/20 or over 40 times the risk they have of experiencing a “Newtown event” (assuming one of these would happen every year). A lot of young kids die in this country, so in this respect the Newtown fatalities are also far from special.
The third factor is distressing to contemplate, but think about it. One minute they were all calmly doing their normal tasks. Then three minutes or so of utter terror. Then they were gone.
How hard a death is this, relatively speaking? Is it worse than some child in a hospital bed, in pain for years, with numerous tubes hooked up to him? No, of course not. Of course not. The manner of their deaths, while unusual and shocking to contemplate, were not actually worse than hundreds or thousands of children experience in this country every year, never mind the horrors of the vastly larger numbers (including those caused by the U.S. government’s endless wars) in the rest of the world. In this factor also, the Newtown fatalities are not all that special.
It is true that the children who survived will be psychologically scarred--particularly after the consoling industry gets through with them. Maybe this is a problem better left to parents?
All children in this world who die had plans for their lives, even those whose deaths weren’t quite so newsworthy. All parents of these had hopes for their children. All survivors are emotionally shattered.
After a while it dawns on a person that what really is so special about Newtown is not so much related to the children themselves, as it is to the political hay that can be made from the event. Some have called this “dancing in the blood of the children.” To me, that is a bit harsh, but still it conveys a kernel of truth. Reputations will be made, agendas will be advanced, and so on, from this tragedy. It doesn’t matter if the supposed remedies will not reduce the likelihood of a subsequent similar tragedy. It doesn’t even matter if the supposed remedy will make things worse. All that matters is that there is a big, emotional churn out there, ripe for harvest by unprincipled, evil bastards. What decent person was not appalled by the crocodile tears shed by Obama over Newtown, a man with many children’s blood on his hands, a man who claims the right to kill any person on the planet he pleases?
People wonder how wars can start, given their horror. Who after all, in his right mind, wants war? I think the answer is the shaping of thought and action by the ruling class, in times of emotional turmoil. We will never move beyond war until we stop letting these people manipulate us.