credit: Xavier Mascarenas/Treasure Coast Newspapers via USA Today Network

Opinion: We need to do better

Jake Hughes
February 15, 2018 - 11:59 am


It's happened again.

Another shooting at a U.S. school, this time a high school in Florida. As of now, 17 people, including children, are dead, and 15 more are fighting for their lives. I find myself, surprisingly, at a loss for words. Not just because I am saddened, frustrated, and angered, but because I don't know what to say. I'm the type of guy who always has an opinion, hence my proclivity for writing opinion pieces, but now? What can I say? What can anyone say? Children are dead. Innocent lives have been cut short due to the actions of a disturbed individual with a gun. In these times—which are sadly frequent in America these days—it's common to find someone to blame. It's human nature; we feel better about ourselves when we have a target for our rage. Already the rhetoric is flying, and it will only get worse in the coming days.

Well, I have a few ideas, myself. I'm about to cast some serious stones. It may piss some of you off, and you know what? I don't really care. I need to vent and rage a bit, and this is where I choose to do it.

Blame #1: The Media

I'm a big fan of heavy metal, and there a line in a song by Slayer that perfectly sums up this situation:

Like a junkie hungry for a fix of anything,

the media devours it and feasts upon the inhumane.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the news right now. Kids from the school with microphones shoved in their faces, weeping mothers and fathers who haven't even had a chance to grieve yet, and worst of all, the killer's picture is everywhere. And you'd better believe that if it wasn't for FCC regulations, they'd have pictures of corpses blasted on every channel. Why? Ratings. These days, the news media is less about telling us what happens, and more about ratings. And if you have a political agenda, which all mainstream news sources do, then it gets even better, because you don't have to have the latest, most up to date news. You just have to have a loud guest "analyst" or "expert" bloviating about whatever your "side" wants to hear. And I get sick of it. Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, all of them only care about serving you a product, that being bloodshed and yelling.

Blame #2: Guns

Oh-ho-ho, man. I just ticked off a bunch of you right off. Well, buckle in, pal, because I'm riding this pony. Let me start by saying that I am a gun owner. The only reason I don't have a gun from every period of American war is because I've got bills to pay. That being said, we have to admit that America has a gun problem. We've almost fetishized gun ownership. And every single time tragedies like this happen, we hear the same lines from gun advocacy groups:

"Now is not the time to talk about gun violence!"

Well then, dear sir/madam, when would be a good time to discuss it?  How long before we admit we have a problem in this country? Is the problem as bad as some media types are saying? No, not nearly, but there is a problem. We may be 31st in the world when it comes to gun violence, according to NPR, but we lead in mass shootings. Now, I am going to use a serious cop-out and admit that I don't know the solution. Is it banning guns? I don't know. Probably not. But we need to come together and come up with some answer, because I get sick and tired of going to hardcore "ammosexuals" and having them tell me the answer is simply more guns! And every time this happens—and again, it's really ****ing sad that I have to say "every time this happens"—we try to pass the buck down the road. With as many times as mentally unstable adults and kids are able to get ahold of guns, there's a conversation that needs to be had.

Blame #3: Us

Not "us" as in veterans. I mean "us" as a society. Again, going back to Slayer, they have a song which says "The beauty of death we all adore." Using the dirty word again, we have fetishized violence. You can see it everywhere. Look at the TV: our highest rated shows are all about people with guns running around shooting people. Go to the website Liveleak sometime, and look at the most viewed videos. Murders, shootings, suicides, the infamous "Faces of Death" film series. We can't get enough. We unknowingly idolize the killers. Don't believe me? Name me five kids who died at Columbine. Don't know? Not surprised. But I bet you damn well know who Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold are. We have built a culture where violence on a massive scale is a viable option to the disturbed. And, going back to my first point, the media serves it up on a silver platter, and we are but hogs to the trough.

We don't know a motive yet, so it's really not for me to speak on that. What little information we have tells us he was a disturbed kid. And he is a kid. But based on what little we know, this kid, and I will not be using his name, was disturbed and dangerous. He was moved from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School because he was disturbed. And yet somehow, no one said a thing.

Well, there you have it. I've vented my spleen a bit. Probably gonna lose a few Facebook friends over this one, but I can do nothing but be honest. None of these factors—the media, guns, the culture—are fully to blame. But when you mix them together, you come away with a volatile mixture for disaster. We have to do better, y'all. We have to.