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Mass Murder in Connecticut

Predictably, the systematic murder of school kids in Connecticut has chilled every feeling person in this country and scared those of us with young kids (or grand-children) to sleepless nights.

There are immediate outcomes we can expect because those things are always there: the predictable tear-in-the-eye hand-wringing of the politicians whose wallets are thicker with the blood money the NRA has given them to shut up on guns; the newsreaders' stupid questions clothed in an air of thoughtfulness; the heart wrenching video of people on the scene simply unable to explain or understand or cope; and the predictable debate over whether a society stressed to the point of cracking should allow everyone to buy assault rifles...it's all to be expected, a part of the self-contradictory grieving we do as a contradictory society in 2012.

That grieving isn't enough. And if it fades quickly, as these grieving spasms frequently do, there will be no impact on policy or law. People will keep on buying guns and storing them and sometimes using them; in fact, as past incidents indicate, they will buy more of them believing that these killings demonstrate the need to "protect yourself" by being able to easily kill someone else.

All of this is aptly and more than abundantly clear in recent coverage. But there are some issues that aren't being covered in the mass media and I think these are the two most important issues in the whole mess.

One is why and the other is why not.

Why are these idiots misinterpreting the Second Amendment so grossly to allow themselves to keep weapons that are destined to kill a lot of people. People can argue all they want but in Florida, where my younger son lives, we went to a department store with a sporting goods section and there, amidst the tennis rackets and bowling shoes, was a glass display of automatic rifles -- the kind soldiers use to kill a lot of people. I recently asked a Texas guy why people would stock such a thing and he said, "for hunting and for our protection." Hunting what? And protection from whom? Hows many times to you have to shoot a deer and is shooting five bullets a second into one real hunting? And who the hell are you protecting yourself from because it isn't a robber...not with an AR.

Of course, that last statement is the crux. The Second Amendment movement is an extreme right-wing movement which is planning for an armed conflict with people like me...and you, probably. They may not want to start it -- although some might -- but they full intend to finish it. Ask them...they'll tell you. This isn't hidden.

This is also not the National Rifle Association. While these people may be in some of the leadership of the NRA, certainly the national leadership is insanely reactionary, much of the membership (over 70 percent) support fairly strict gun registration laws. Most of them are, in fact, hunters.

So the struggle against militarization of our population is actually a fight against fascism. We're nip and tuck on that one.

Then there's an issue many aren't talking about -- although you see it on-line from many of my left-wing friends and comrades -- because it's difficult and, frankly, embarrassing to our entire society: how you deal with people who have emotional and mental difficulties. Adam Lanza, the perpetrator, is being vilified all over the place; he certainly isn't winning any popularity contests. And he is, in fact, no hero. He was a sick kid: totally out of his mind that morning. He was bending and bending and he snapped. I don't need any background info to say that and you don't either. He snapped and went into one of the dark caves people with these problems frequent and in that cold, hard darkness the best thing to do was to wipe out the lives of bunches of kids who, for the most part, would probably grow up to have lives better than Adam Lanza's.

You hurt people because, for whatever reason, they aren't able to feel the pain you're feeling and there's something in you that says you'll feel less pain if they feel more.

There were certainly adults who knew that Adam Lanza was progressively separating himself from reality. They had to know this wasn't going to end well; it wasn't just going away. This condition doesn't just go away. Like a horrible infection, it must be confronted and dealt with and combated. You care for people who are sick so they don't die. Except we don't really care people who are mentally sick and, as a result, many of them lives a dying existence every day. Sometimes they kill.

If we don't start dealing with mental challenges and disease like a real disease -- something that isn't the sick person's fault and that can, in fact, be contained and often cured -- we will keep having these things. But to admit that mental disease is among our most frequent and prominent challenges would be to admit that this is a society that is producing more and more of that disease, a society that is failing in every way. If this is going to be tackled as a problem, it must be through political struggle.

The deepest question, though, is more vexing and much more difficult because it entails excavating the deep ground of this society's culture. The bottom line is that we are a culture of death in which every difference of any kind, every conflict of any nature, anything that separates us, should end with someone's death. We celebrate killers as our heroes: name one person of peace, one doctor who has cured disease, one teacher who innovatively taught or changed the way we teach, one individual who has done anything truly productive for our country and the world -- name one person like that who is considered a hero.

But you know John McCain, a vicious, reactionary bully who was recently energized from his intellectual deep sleep by the prospect of taking revenge from being beaten in 2008 by a black man by beating up on a black woman. He is, we are told every time, a national hero. There are many such "heroes" -- young people who fly planes half-way across the world to countries of dark-skinned people who talking a language most Americans don't understand and then kill lots of them.

We have embraced death as an acceptable outcome for those whom we kill. We embrace death because, to do otherwise, we would make a revolution and the culture that is imposed on us by the powerful and propagated by its servants (including the media) eschews such an outcome. Over 9,000 of us die by gunfire every year but we kill so many more. In fact, the horror of the Connecticut shootings brings to the fore the horror of the mass deaths the U.S. military causes throughout the world. In many countries, when the bombs fall from those drones in the sky, the death of five year old kids is inevitable and daily.

How far is this from the deaths of kids of color in our country, something that is daily life for many communities and has been for decades now.

We have been killing the rest of the world and we kill our own but now, with the several incidents we've recently seen, the question is being raised: who, when all is said and done, is "our own". The answer to that question is the one that will change everything and so it's the question we should posing as we talk about these murder in Connecticut.