Thursday, August 22, 2013

Deadly Blame Game

Yesterday, a number of local constituents gathered across the street from Rep. Joe Heck's district office to demand action on gun violence. Today, we reflect on even more saddening headlines of brutal gun violence across the nation.

Last Friday, Chris Lane was shot dead "for fun". He was an Australian national and budding baseball star studying at Oklahoma's East Central University. His untimely death sparked shock and outrage in both countries, but Australians have particularly noticed a dangerous aspect of American culture that contributed to Chris Lane's death.

Frank FitzGerald, who was the principal at St Bernard's while Mr Lane was a student, said Mr Lane had been an integral part of the school leadership. He said the violence of Mr Lane's death made it particularly difficult to bear.

"I think the rest of the countries around the world just look at that country and shake their head," Mr FitzGerald said.

"How many tragedies do they have and Chris is just one of many.

"When you hear of the ones in schools where they have massacres, I cannot conceive of what that is to deal with. We had a number of tragedies over the years at St Bernard's and it cuts right through."

But of course on this side of the Pacific Ocean, the usual G-O-TEA suspects have been quick to pile on the race baiting. They've even gone on bizarre rants over fried chicken and vegetables! After all, they're still trying to spin away the brutal death of Trayvon Martin. And of course, they have to find something to divert attention from the root cause of both their deaths, along with the untimely deaths of many more people in this nation.

Also this week, we saw another school shooting. This time, it was in Decatur, Georgia. Yet this time, there were no deaths.

How did that happen? Antoinette Tuff was able to talk down the shooter. And she was able to talk him down without using a gun. So of course, this has caused many G-O-TEA heads to explode.

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Tuff is, of course, the bookkeeper at Ronald McNair Discovery Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., whose work talking shooter Michael Brandon Hill into surrendering to police Tuesday was captured live on a stunning 911 tape that’s gone viral. The fascination at the heart of Tuff’s tale, the reason it’s riveting, is the way she used compassion and empathy to disarm a mentally ill man intent on killing. “Was the potential there to have another Sandy Hook? Absolutely,” the local police chief told reporters as he praised Tuff.

In this story, the only thing that stopped a bad guy with a gun was a good woman with a heart. Or to entirely rewrite Wayne LaPierre’s dumb Manichaean NRA propaganda: The only thing that stopped an emotionally damaged, despairing and unloved young man with 500 rounds of ammunition was a compassionate woman sharing her own story of damage and despair, and telling him she loved him.

Oh, and then there’s this: As we try to recover from the unnecessarily polarized aftermath of the Trayvon Martin killing and George Zimmerman’s acquittal, it’s worth noting that Tuff is a black woman who helped save a young white man from harm at the hands of police. Of course, the race-baiters at Fox News, who were so agitated about the crimes of young black men a few weeks ago, have hardly rushed to emphasize that a young white man opened fire at a predominantly black school – let alone that he was helped to save his own life by an African-American woman (for example, check out how they approach these facts here).

But of course, the usual G-O-TEA suspects have rushed to race-bait in the Chris Lane case. And of course, they continue to refuse to address the root cause of his death, the near miss at Antoinette Tuff's school, the police shootout here in Henderson that Desert Beacon discussed this morning. After all, it's easier to play deadly blame games than to get Congress to actually do something to save lives.

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