Wednesday, October 7, 2015

I Believe In Politicizing Tragedy

As many of you know I'm a liberal. So one of my favorite things to do - when I'm not burning American flags and downvoting YouTube videos of Lee Greenwood - is politicize tragedy. I love exploiting horror and suffering for political gain. You show me some awful festival of death that just happened, and the first thing I want to do is hook this on the Republicans. It feels like discovering that the National has a new album coming out. Mwah. Perfect.

I used to feel guilty about my habit, but I don't anymore. I'm proud of politicizing tragedy, and I want to invite you to join me. Many tragedies should be politicized, because many tragedies could have been prevented with the right policies.

When someone walks into a school or a movie theater and murders a crowd with an assault rifle or a powerful handgun, it's time to remind the country that one party is trying to regulate gun sales, and the other is doing everything they can to sabotage action.

When an intense storm kills people and wrecks infrastructure, we should point out that one party accepts the scientific consensus about the dangers of global warming, and the other denies it because the oil lobby owns its politicians.

And whenever someone murders a person because of their race, their gender, or their sexual orientation, it's appropriate - no, it's a duty - to make sure everyone remembers that one party is full of people who have spent decades catering to bigots, opposing legislation that might provide justice and relief, and mocking those who are different from their idea of a citizen.

One side of the political fence believes that the government can make laws and regulations to bring greater safety and dignity to the lives of millions. One side of the political fence believes that this is actually why we have government in the first place. The other side wants to posture and rant and jam up the gears so nothing gets done, because they really do believe anything government does will be evil.

We're going to face mind-bending challenges in the next hundred years. We're going to need government to do things. And it's simply not an acceptable response to try to sabotage it at every decision point.

So you're goddamn right I'm going to politicize tragedy. It would be irresponsible not to.


  1. Uh-huh. Yeah, I actually agree that in the wake of a gun-related tragedy is an excellent time to talk about how we need fewer guns out there.

    It is not, however, a very good time to shout "this happened because of YOU, you evil scumbags!" Because what do you expect? That conservatives are going to go, "yes, you're right! We're practically murderers, each and every one of us! We'll just go off and kill ourselves in shame now, so you can pass the correct laws without us"?

    No. People don't work like that. They need to believe that they're, if not good, then at least not actively horrible. The fact that you believe that they are, in fact, actively horrible doesn't matter, because *either way you are not going to be able to convince them of that.* All you'll get them to do is double down and claim that what we need is more guns instead of less, because "less guns" has become code for "you're a horrible person."

    And I'm sure you are already gearing up to write something about how their self-esteem isn't more important than people's lives and they should realise that. Well, too fucking bad! This is the kind of human species we have to work with! People can and will put their own tender feelings ahead of the greater good, so if *you* are as interested in the greater good as you claim, you need to take that into account instead of expecting it to change because you shout at it enough.

    If you leave one-upmanship out of it, you might be able to convince some people to take a few steps to limit the availability of firearms. *Might,* please note. You probably won't, because as a rule the world changes in its own time for reasons that have nothing to do with you. But it's still a larger small chance, in my estimation, than the even smaller small chance that you are going to make people change their minds by beating them over the head with a pile of corpses.

    1. I disagree, because I think the conversation also involves people who are on the fence. Ridicule might convince them to reject the GOP, giving the GOP less power in the long run.

      I see your point, and I've thought about it before. But I disagree.

  2. There's a time and place for calm reasoned discourse and appeals to your opponents' better natures. And there's a time to rant and yell and curse, because people are wrong and stupid, and other people are dead because of it. I appreciate your voice.


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