Licking their lips and salivating over images of grieving Mothers and frightened children. More than 10,000 people were shot dead in the America last year – but 26, in one place, not just children, but infants even, oh and a suicide thrown in as well, let’s call it 27 – it’s Bansturbator heaven, to say nothing of Sky heaven. As unedifying as it is to watch Sky using these images of human emotion to fill their allotted time, listening to the inevitable ‘gun control’ lobby crawling out of their lairs and declaring ‘that something must be done, can we have a new law please’ is just as mortifying.
What is it about grief and death that makes the media and single issue lobbyists feel so free to exploit it for their own ends? We have had unending coverage of Jacintha Saldanha’s death, the high-profile MPs hugging her children, the Roman Catholic absolutionists out in their best party frocks announcing that she will have a memorial service in Westminster Cathedral, everybody milking the death of one nurse for their own ends. Was she the only nurse to die that week, the only Indian? The only person to be the victim of humiliation, the only person to take their life? Is it not sufficient that we are merely told the facts (and the facts would make a pleasant change from the speculation)?
Jacintha will be all but forgotten on the airwaves this week, for now we have new keywords driving the media agenda – Gun Control, 2nd Amendment, Right to Bear Arms, Newtown. Something like another 175 people will be shot dead in the US this week, but we shall hear nothing of them. Their local garage owner will not be phoned up by desperate researchers and invited to tell the world of his ‘feelings’ on hearing of the death of someone he never knew, never met; political lobbyists will be allowed to lay out their wares on multiple channels; Mothers will be encouraged to weep their grief for the world at large.
Many people have tried to explain to me the logic of ‘good killings’ and ‘bad killings’. I think I’ve got the terminology right now - Saddam Hussein killing tens of thousands of his own people was ‘bad killing’; a terrible thing, something that could only be put right by the Allied forces killing hundreds of thousands of the same people – these were ‘good killings’ – so much for the terminology, but the logic still defeats me; does the death feel any better if it is via ‘good killing’? You will just have to put me down as ‘not in favour’ of killing or the various methods used to achieve it.
I try to apply this terminology and logic to the gun control argument. Guns have been invented. A regrettable event, but one we are stuck with. There wouldn’t be an America if they hadn’t – the Bible alone wouldn’t have been much use against the bows and arrows of the Indians. So in a country which only exists by virtue of the use of the gun against people going about their legitimate business, the abolitionists now wish to denude the law-abiding of their weapons and leave the means of killing people solely in the hands of the criminals and/or law enforcement officers? Is there some guarantee that criminals and law enforcement officers aren’t subject to the same pressures, incitement, mental derangement, desire for fame or revenge, that those who perpetuate these schoolyard killings are afflicted by?
There are many countries in the world where all citizens have the ability to buy firearms; I live in one myself – France. Same sort of guns, same sort of bullets. They don’t take the opportunity to mass kill the contents of their local school. I used to live in another country where not even the police automatically have the right to carry guns – the UK. Yet we had the Dunblane and Hungerford mass killings. So not having the right to bear arms doesn’t rule out mass killings; having the right to bear arms doesn’t necessarily lead to mass killings.
Which leads me to believe that there must be some force at large in America, besides the ‘right to bear arms’, which creates the conditions in which these mass killings arise. Could it be, oh whisper it quietly, could it be the influence of the media? Not just the news media, but the influence of Hollywood, the constant glorification of killing, the video games; the knowledge that you too can ‘go out’ in a blaze of glory if you just manage to shoot more people, or someone even more famous, than the last guy?
Which brings me back to Jacintha. Are there not guidelines on the reporting of suicide by the media? Is there not a danger in the raising of this sad death to celebrity status rivalling the death of Princess Diana, that might tempt some overworked, underpaid and harassed nurse at Christmas time, traditionally a time when depression rears its head for too many, to think that a memorial service at Westminster Cathedral, the great and the good weeping over your death, and the citizens of the UK rushing to donate funds to your family might actually be preferable to making the best of the left over turkey for an ungrateful family and heading off in the cold for yet another night of emptying bedpans?
Oh for the days when we just had quiet, factual accounts of news delivered over the radio by a man in evening dress, instead of the insane ramblings of a half drunk garage owner who had no connection with the news beyond what he had heard on his radio…or Keith Vaz grandstanding.