By Nicky Reid aka Comrade Hermit
Exile in Happy Valley
It happens over and over again. Another day, another shooting. Another day, another nightmare. Another sleepy small-town community put on the map for all the most horrifying of reasons. Another school shattered by unspeakable violence. Another lonely pissed off kid who needed a gun just to be heard. Another four young lives extinguished, guilty of nothing but standing in his way. Another host of adults who couldn’t be bothered to give a shit until blood stained their spotless floors. Another national tragedy for our vaunted tabloids in the Fourth Estate to shamelessly sensationalize and mine for ratings gold while simultaneously virtue signaling over the carnage.
But the sickest thing about the latest school shooting to rock the nation is just how eerily normal it all feels. Four dead and seven wounded at a high school in tiny Oxford, Michigan, just feels like another Monday in 2021. But for the vultures of cable news, it’s something far worse. It’s just another juicy headline to gorge themselves on, and they’ve been circling with their cameras drawn to catch every traumatizing minute long before those bodies were even cold. Weeks later, and they’re still circling. It happens over and over again, and it’s just going to keep happening.
The anchors of cable news pout and put on a good show about how tragic this all is to them. They’ll even bring up their own children in a crass attempt to humanize their craven scavenging, but those parasites live for this kind of thing. Exploiting dead (mostly)white kids is one of the few times when they get to plausibly pretend to be actual journalists anymore, covering something that actually fucking happened for a change. For them every tragedy is just another opportunity for spectacle, and it doesn’t take them very long to turn that spectacle into their favorite game, the blame game. Sure, a bunch of innocent kids are dead but who gives a fuck about that when there are fingers to point. After all, the most important question to answer here is who do we have to blame?
Do we blame mental illness or the shooters shitbird parents? Boring! We can do better than that. Let’s blame heavy metal music. Let’s blame Quintin Tarantino. Let’s blame violent video games. Let’s blame antidepressants. Let’s blame anything fun or anything that makes adolescence in this shell of a decaying empire even mildly tolerable. But most of all, let’s blame guns. Let’s blame the shit out of guns. That’s every news creep opportunist’s and Democratic presidential hopeful’s favorite scapegoat, and in spite of all the sensationalist rhetoric and breathless hyperbole, it’s actually not a target without merit for once. Even an unapologetic lefty gun nut like me can begrudgingly admit that the ready access to firearms in this country is certainly a factor in tragedies like these, but a closer look at the statistics adds up to a much more complicated narrative than guns-bad-guns-kill.
Violent crime statistics in this country are notoriously subjective and inconclusive, especially considering that we rely mostly on the less than reputable word of local police and the federal government to track them. A couple things that we do know for sure however is that, with the exception of the last few years of COVID induced poverty and upheaval, violent crime of almost any kind, including gun violence, has been steadily declining for the last forty years, regardless of shifting gun laws. The only exception to this rule has been the uniquely American pastime of the mass shooting which just keeps on climbing. School shootings are particularly vexing considering that they increased exponentially during the Clinton era Assault Weapons Ban and exploded right around the time that the press turned Columbine into a three-ring circus, and that’s the thing that the media blame game always seems to conveniently overlook.