Quote of the Day:
“Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.” –Henry Clay
Where do I start? Like TB, you all know more details than you wish you could imagine about the child sex predator scandal at Penn State and the mass murder last week at the Batman opening in Denver.
Today it was announced that Penn State would be penalized by the NCAA. Every win from 1998 through 2011 was vacated, a 60 million dollar fine, five years probation, four year bowl ban and ten scholarships per year for four years. It is a staggering blow to the school and it’s fan base, virtually none of whom deserve to suffer. That’s why, I guess, the backlash has already started. “Penn State got no due process!” “The NCAA exceeded it’s authority!” “The NCAA is grandstanding!” And on the other side, “they should have gotten the death penalty!”
As for the Batman massacre, our societal response in the so-called mainstream universe has been nothing more than a regurgitation of the “dialogue” we had after Columbine. And Virginia Tech. And Fort Hood. And Pearl. And the other three dozen or so shooting sprees over the last few decades in America. “Now do you right-wingers see why we want gun-control?!” “Now do you lefties see why everyone should pack heat?!” “Let’s start a pistol buy-back program!” “It’s perfectly reasonable for a postman to own a machine gun and 20,000 rounds of armor piercing ammunition!”
Americans are seemingly incapable of thoughtful discourse. We see crisis as our only avenue to action, the manipulation of our national emotional condition. Here’s the thing. These incidents are outliers. On the other hand, they are also the product of something bigger; they are the out of proportion results of obvious flaws in our culture. We place too much emphasis on sports. We give too much power to too few people, for the wrong reasons. We lash out recklessly to avenge crime. We have a gun and violence problem–the worst in the civilized world. We have a clear majority that believes strongly in responsible gun ownership. We are imperfect. And we steadfastly refuse to seek workable solutions.
Penn State deserves its punishment. Their leadership has acknowledged this even if their alumni cannot. They have to suffer because it is the best and only, if inefficient, way of spurring not only Penn State but all of organized sports to institute safeguards and controls to reduce the incidence of child abuse under their watch and to deter future cover-ups of criminal activity at the official level.
As for guns, we are a democracy. Our democracy long ago settled the question of gun ownership and availability. Liberals have to understand that. The issue now is how to lessen gun violence; that’s something we ought to be able to agree on. And forgive the pun, but there is obviously no silver-bullet answer. The right to bear arms, just like other rights guaranteed in the Constitution, is not and should not be absolute. There is a line. Right wingers have to accept that. And beyond simply dealing with the instruments of death, we have to deal with the people who use them. Is nightly televised violence playing a role? Video games? Mental illness? Poverty? Declining morals? Something else? I read on twitter last night, “Guns don’t kill people. Americans kill people.” So true.
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could step back from the backlash? Realize there is a problem? Agree on what the problems are? And set aside personal interest and politics in an attempt to address them?
It would be nice, I think.