“I met a girl who sang the blues
And I asked her for some happy news
But she just smiled and turned away…”
— from “American Pie” by Don McLean
I know it’s only Monday, but it’s been a hell of a week.
By now you know that a Florida gunman killed 50 people and injured 53 at a gay nightclub in Orlando early Sunday morning. The massacre is “the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history,” according to published reports.
In other news, late last week and again over the weekend, several media outlets published stories about the pleas for leniency in sentencing made by convicted sex offender Brock Turner’s parents. In and of itself that is not a big deal. What makes it newsworthy — and frankly unbelievable — is that not once do Dan or Carleen Turner express concern or remorse about what their little golden boy did. In fact, they were both too busy crying about how “the verdict” ruined their lives to acknowledge he did anything wrong.
What is even more disgusting is that these self-centered, narcissistic swines (for lack of a better description) got their wish. Their son, Brock, who was convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman behind a dumpster on the Stanford University campus in January 2015, got only six months in jail and three years probation.
Elsewhere over the weekend, English and Russian soccer “fans” gathered in France, where teams representing their countries faced off in Euro 2016, the European Championship tournament. Unfortunately, troublemakers from both countries reportedly incited violence prior to and during the game.
Collectively, this is more than enough to make any sane person wonder just what the hell is going on.
Stop The World, I Want To Get Off
What is almost as disturbing as the violence itself is the reaction to it. In this case, I am referring specifically to the reaction that occurred in the wake of the Sunday morning massacre.
Media reports issued before all of the facts were known fueled speculation about the shooter and his motive. Politicians started mouthing off before all of the facts were known. People commenting on Internet stories about the incident resorted to trading insults, name calling, and generally carrying on in a completely disgusting and reprehensible manner.
Not that it surprised me. That’s what always happens after an incident of this magnitude. But that doesn’t make it right. Not by a long shot.
The time in the immediate aftermath of any tragedy is not the time to politicize the issue, nor is it the time to engage in the stupidity commonly seen on the Internet. Honestly, does screaming louder than the other guy or calling him names or insulting his mother really make anyone feel better? Does it do any good? Does it change anything?
I think not.
Enough Is Enough
The hours and days following a tragedy of this magnitude is the time to find compassion in our hearts and rally to help everyone affected. It is the time to offer what little solace we can for families and friends of those who were lost and those who were injured. It is the time to grieve for and with those now facing inexplicable heartache. It is time to respect their privacy, but it also time to give them a forum to share their feelings if they wish to do so.
We must give those who were injured space and time as they begin to heal. We must give those who lost friends and loved ones time to mourn.
Then — and only then — will there come a time when we must put our differences aside and have a meaningful discussion about the important issues at hand. We must find it within ourselves to put our egos aside and enter an open dialogue about terrorism, radical Islam, gun control, gun owners rights, homophobia and the hate that generally plagues this country.
It is crucial that we find some way to come together — and we can do it. We did it after 9/11 — and we can do it again. We must.
If we don’t, we are doomed. It’s as simple as that.