Sometimes all you need are the quick quotes--the print version of the sound bite. Like today, when I’m looking at the online version of The New York Times.
Of course the overwhelming news is the shooting of nine people in a church in Charleston. Nine black people in one of the country’s oldest black churches. The shooter was white. If it weren’t so horrifying it would sound like a game of Clue. In a church with a gun. In a church with a gun???
We do not know the details yet. But we can guess. We can speculate about the role of hate-filled public rhetoric. We can guess that here are nine more victims of racial hatred.
And nine more victims of guns available everywhere. I’ve seen a bumper sticker that says, “motorcycles are everywhere.” I have no idea what that means or if it’s true. But what are truly everywhere are guns. Why not in church where, let’s face it, you can easily envision the need, right?
It could have been in a movie theater or in a school, or some other place where those gun-toting sportsmen (and, sadly--let’s be fair--sportswomen) feel the need to be armed. Don’t the pandering politicians talk about shooting for sport? Why not be ready? Never can tell when you might see a deer. On college campuses, in Starbucks (guns and caffeine--what could possibly go wrong?), carried in pockets and purses just in case. And if we couldn’t control gun ownership when a classroom full of first graders was mowed down, we know it’s never going to happen.
The Charleston gunman has apparently been found and arrested. In his Facebook photo shows he wears a jacket decorated with apartheid insignia. No surprise.
I saw this sound bite, the Times “quotation of the day.” It’s from one Jeff Funicello, who is apparently selling his 1975 armored truck, which has bulletproof windows and sliding rifle portholes. Mr. Funicello’s quote is, “This is America. I should be able to have a howitzer or a bazooka if I want one.”
Not much of a surprise there either, unfortunately. Yes, let’s protect our right to firepower, our right to stand our ground and shoot from the hip. Let’s gut food stamps, reproductive choice, workers’ rights to organize, scientific research. Let’s keep our tax rates low, education and infrastructure be damned. But above all, don’t pry our guns out of our warm, live hands.
One other little sound bite caught my eye, this one the “On This Day” feature. It felt to me as if it might somehow be related to the news from Charleston: on this day, June 18, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights adopted its International Declaration of Human Rights. That was in 1948. The United States has never endorsed it.