I sat on this topic for a while. The idea to cover gun control rhetoric or lack-there-of happened earlier this month and really solidified in my brain as a good topic to cover after both The Nightly Show and The Daily Show bits about how the U.S. reacts to mass shootings.
The short version: We react almost the exact same way every single time there is a school shooting that actually makes national news. And the ones that don’t make national news, we don’t even have that half-assed reaction.
I was actually afraid of sitting on this topic too long and it becoming less relevant since it was no longer at the forefront of people’s minds. But then I decided to google “school shootings.” Turns out, there was one three days ago. Thanks Google and Wikipedia for keeping me informed.
I do want to take a moment to point out how despairing it is that there is actually a wiki that logs every school shooting in the U.S. Like, that’s a thing that exists. Bless whoever keeps it up, because that has to be one depressing job–combing through the news to see if a dumbass with a gun has decided to go shoot up some kids and teachers. Ugh. Just, yeah.
I want to first share how The Daily Show reacted to the shooting that occurred in Oregon on October 1, 2015:
The nonchalant handling of this event is both tragic and jarring. It’s supposed to be. The Daily Show writers are pointing out that every time this happens, it’s like a broken record. So much so that there is literally a one size fits all sort of reaction that has become acceptable by audiences.
But Larry Wilmore of The Nightly Show really drives home this point by rhetorically breaking down the media, politicians, and general public’s reactions every single time an event involving guns occurs:
When the media bombards audiences with gun violence statistics in what appears to be leading up to an honest conversation about guns… But they just leave audiences hanging and tired.
So Larry describes this as the mix of a shift with a switcharoo. Gun violence leads to a talk about mental illness, but then also the second amendment… But while we’re hanging out in the Bill of Rights, why don’t we talk about that pesky first amendment instead?
This happens when President Obama addresses the issue about guns. Certain… media outlets and politicians decide to “shit” all over whatever the president says and admonish him for not talking about something else that is not even remotely relevant to the topic at hand.
We are prevented from having a conversation about guns because someone with media clout has said something so horrible that we are in a state of shock.
When people argue that it is disrespectful to try to have a conversation about gun control because the event is so recent in everyone’s minds.
In regards to “Too Soon,” did I mention that in October alone there have been four documented school shootings? I don’t want to get too deep into “Exhaustment,” but it is always going to be too soon by that logic.
I think what really bothers me is how accepting we, as an audience and consumers of media, are of this type of rhetoric. Even when it is spelled out for us in plain language that these are tactics being used against us to manipulate us toward a certain complacency, we’re still too numb to react any differently from the hundreds of times before.
I guess my question is what could be put forth rhetorically that could shift the populous’s demeanor toward this hot button topic? And since we cannot depend on the media or politicians to wield such rhetoric responsibly, who’s shoulders should it fall on? Just how culpable are we, as the audience, in this discussion?