Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Loonies Explain the School Shootings

The Westboro Baptist Church says that god is punishing our nation for the acceptance of gay marriage and that is why he sent the gunman to Sandy Hook Elementary School to kill those children and teachers.  We are all accustomed to this group making ridiculous claims like this one but this time around it seems that they are not the only ones making absurd claims.

It must be Jump on the Loonie Bandwagon Week (trademark pending) this week!  First up there is former governor of Arkansas and former Presidental candidate, Mike Huckabee!  Huckabee first stated that we shouldn't be surprised that the shootings took place because we've removed god from our schools.  He was later asked to clarify his remarks so he tried to brush them aside by explaining that he really meant to blame the lack of morality as evidenced by the sale of contraceptives - which he likens to abortion - for the rampage.

Bryan Fischer, host of American Family Radio (a radio show) then offered a spin of Huckabee's original idea:  That we've removed prayer from schools and that is why god wasn't there to protect those children. So, Fischer's version of god didn't send the gunman but just declined to protect the victims.  Interesting.

Then we hear from Dr. James Dobson, who also has a radio show, who states that we have turned our back on god and that the shootings were god's judgement falling on us.  His show is called Family Talk with James Dobson but I seriously hope that young children aren't listening to that sort of drivel as it might give them nightmares.

Newt Gingrich, the former Presidential candidate, must really miss being in the spotlight so he, too, had a statement to make about the shootings.  He blames, "anti-religious, secular bureaucracy and secular judiciary seeking to drive god out of public life". Oh, and video games.  That's an oldie!.

Finally, I noticed this last one yesterday. Joel C Rosenberg, a best-selling evangelical author, is blaming Jon Stewart and his television show, The Daily Show, for the killings! Yep. He says that they are waging a "cultural war against Jesus and Christmas"  and are driving god our of our society.

As an atheist, I obviously think all of these claims are utterly absurd.  If you look at this from my point of view, you have to wonder why anyone would listen to anything these people have to say but yet we give them television and radio shows and encourage some of them to run for public office!  It's outrageous!

Worse, it distracts us and keeps us from addressing the real issues at hand.  Isn't it about time we examined the situation and tried to come up with some actual solutions based on the facts of the situation?

  • People with mental illnesses sometimes have a difficult time getting or affording treatment in our country. How can we change this?  
  • What can we do to keep people with mental illnesses from obtaining weapons if they are a danger to themselves and others?  
  • What about those weapons?  Does a civilian really need an assault rifle?  I can't legally purchase a flamethrower or a tank, after all.  Maybe we need to take a closer look at what we are able to purchase.
  • What about limiting the ability to buy ammo for some of these more dangerous weapons? This would allow people to continue to collect some of these guns if that is what they want to do.
  • What about people who legally purchase weapons who aren't mentally unstable?  Should we hold them accountable if they don't keep them out of the hands of children or people who shouldn't have them?  
  • What about laws that require someone to report when a gun is stolen?  Does this help keep them off the street?
  • What about the gunshow loophole that allows a person to purchase a weapon without a background check?  It's time to take a look at that one, in my opinion.
  • Gun buy-back programs are a terrific way to get some illegal guns off the street.  They generally pay a person for the gun but no questions are asked about where it came from. Maybe we should try to fund more of these programs.
In short, there are many things that we can do to try to prevent more of these tragedies in the future.  It's time to start the discussion and actually do something.  Trying to blame a tragedy on gay people, secular society or enforcement of the 1st amendment isn't going to solve anything and it just makes you look silly.  It's time to work together to try to minimize these kinds of disasters.

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