How to Respond to the Latest Mass Shooting
Wednesday morning, a former employee of a Virginia TV news station waited until two of his former colleagues were live on air, then filmed himself raising a gun and shooting them both dead. He uploaded the videos to Twitter before committing suicide. It is the first mass shooting since [scroll back in your social media timelines to a week ago, assuming you have to go that far].
The utterly thinkable has happened again, and so soon that you probably do not have any novel means of examining either your exhaustion or despair, presuming you’re capable of still feeling either. More likely, you’ve been reduced — by the relentless frequency of a politically tolerated and protected form of American death — to the sort of indifference every parent experiences when hearing, “Hey, mom! Watch this!” before her child does his umpteenth cannonball off the diving board. Nod, go back to looking at your smartphone. Just replace the splashes with gunshots.
But since we’re all live-curating existence now, everyone from average citizens to corporate newsrooms has to say something. National events have given, and now you must take — a hot take, pity take, concern-troll take, just take it already. What does it say about your brand presence within the metadialogue if you let the killer have the last vlog?
With that in mind, here are some options you might consider.
1. “Don’t politicize this!”
Always a good take, and it involves ethical analysis as weighty as Galileo measuring the fall of a feather compared to a feather. I don’t mean you shouldn’t politicize this tragedy, of course – far from it. You should just shout that at everyone else. The net effect of stating that someone else should not politicize an event is declaring that their political opinion about it is unwelcome, crass, predatory or invalid. You can shame them for capitalizing on something terrible and get away with silencing someone else’s opinion without offering one yourself and thus implicitly state that your unspoken view is the only reasonable response. Don’t worry about seeming ethically inconsistent on this. Your refusal to countenance political calls for disarming Americans will work just as well even if you’ve spent the last month screaming about the sanctity of human life and calling for the end of federally funded abortions by a group that doesn’t perform abortions with federal funds, all because you saw some edited videotapes created by Dr. Nick Riviera’s Fetus Defense Hut. Human life is serious business, especially if someone you agree with has FinalCut Pro. If someone you disagree with has a Vine, we must wait the appropriate amount of time until most fellow Americans are no longer thinking about this.
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