Signs We Are Near The End Of Civilization: When Tragedy Gets Sports Used As A Pulpit For Failed Politics

18 12 2012

End of World Sign

Obviously, this piece is being written in the aftermath of the horrific event at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Before I go anywhere with this, I’m going to quote fellow Sports Blog Movement member Patrick Young who really encapsulated this terrible tragedy in relevance to a sports blog as well as I think it can be done.

Like many people, I have been deeply troubled by what happened in Newtown, CT this past Friday. Obviously not as much as the residents of the town, and certainly not nearly as much as the victims’ families, but my heart truly breaks every time I think about that tragedy for more than a second. I have found it difficult to force myself to write about anything as trivial as sports, and writing about the tragedy itself is not something I can accomplish. I simply do not have the words.

To the residents of Newtown, Connecticut, and specifically the victims’ families, you have my unending sympathy. If there was anything I could ever do to help you in this time of grief, I would do it without question. May God grant you peace and understanding.

But unlike Young’s eloquent words, I happen to see a relationship between what happened both in the Jovan Belcher situation and at Sandy Hook because in no time at all, both of them were used by people to advance a political agenda, and sports were used as a conduit to do so.

Having said that, it is time for a disclaimer. The following opinions are those of J-Dub, and do not necessarily reflect those of Patrick Young or any other member of Sports Blog Movement.  In other words, if what you are about to read pisses you off, take it up with J-Dub and nobody else.

I’m just going to get it out in the open.  It’s time for all you assholes who are using tragedy to advance your own causes to stop it.  Stop it right now.  I’m tired of your self-absorbed pontificating, I’m tired of your phony pretense of having some sort of “moral high ground,” and I’m especially tired of your injecting politics into sports.

Remember the days immediately after 9/11 when sports were viewed as some sort of collective salve America needed to promote healing in the aftermath of a horrible event?  It’s pretty clear those days are gone.

For starters, there’s what President Obama pulled on Sunday night by scheduling a 45-minute, utterly pointless speech which thanks to NBC’s slavish idolatry of this blowbag meant the whole country was denied the first quarter of the Patriots-49ers game.

First of all, Obama’s speech was entirely pointless. He didn’t say a single thing you wouldn’t have expected him to say, and there was really no reason for him to go on for the better part of an hour other than to make sure he got some TV time for himself. Don’t even try to tell me that speech wasn’t deliberately scheduled knowing that NBC would carry it over the football game. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that a game with monstrous playoff implications between two of the best teams in the country’s most popular sports league would have an inordinately large number of people tuned to NBC at 8:20 p.m. eastern time.

Think “slavish idolatry” is a bit harsh for describing NBC’s treatment of Obama? Let’s not forget NBC pressured the NFL to move it’s season-opening Thursday night game to Wednesday so it wouldn’t conflict with Obama’s speech at the Democratic National Convention. I didn’t notice anybody else getting NFL games rescheduled in order to maximize their television audience, and I’m pretty sure there’s nobody else NBC would wipe out nearly an entire quarter of football for.  Not to mention, NBC didn’t even need to carry that speech; it was only on about eleventy bazillion other channels.

Of course, social network sites like Twitter exploded in protest, and naturally since many websites are run by Obama supporters, there became a need to make this an issue of Obama’s race, Deadspin decided it was necessary to run headlines like “TakeThat Nigger Off TV” just because there is this Kool-Aid going around that anybody who opposes Obama is inherently a racist.

Way to be classy, Deadspin. Let’s take a national tragedy and find a way to get the “N-bomb” in your headline because we all know that doing so drives readership numbers. There were tons of tweets that expressed the sentiment that Obama was merely preening on national television for his Kool-Aid gulping minions that didn’t resort to coarseness and vulgarity, but those got buried under the bullshit.  Here’s a prime example.

tweet aganist obama speech

 

First of all, go back to my original thought about how we used to view sports as a healer in times of tragedy. Obama clearly flushed that down the shitter for no other purpose than maximizing his own exposure.  I’ll bet you he doesn’t get this reaction if he cuts that speech to fifteen minutes and gives it halftime. I’ll bet you he doesn’t get this reaction if he gives that 45-minute speech an hour before he did.

Obama isn’t the first guy to use a tragedy for personal gain, and he surely won’t be the last.  Bob Costas did it over the Belcher incident, Obama did it here, but my favorite was the off-the-hinges gun control rant that came from New York Daily News columnist and waste of ESPN air-time Mike Lupica.

On last Sunday’s episode of the Sports Reporters, Lupica took the opportunity to share his special brand of lunacy with the 27 viewers ESPN gets for that 30-minute crap-fest.

In the aftermath of these tragedies we always hear about our right to bear arms and a Second Amendment written for muskets. But what rights did these children and their teachers have in small-town Connecticut? In a country fast-becoming a shooting gallery? We also hear that we should have a national conversation about gun control, when the truth is there’s no such thing in America.

To give Lupica some credit, he’s actually right about one thing; there’s is no gun control in America.  Yeah, I know we have a shitload of gun laws in this country, and I know that every time we have a highly-publicized incident involving guns, there is yet another knee-jerk reaction calling for even more gun laws.  The problem is that gun control laws have three fundamental problems that jerk-offs like Lupica completely ignore.

1) The anti-gun people have been exceptionally stupid

Face it, it’s really hard to argue against that “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” type of logic. The anti-gun crowd made their fundamental mistake by waiting for events like this to try to advance their cause. That means they get a few moments in the headlines in the aftermath of tragedies, while the National Rifle Association gets a long-running catch phrase with gems like “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” It takes almost no intellectual power whatsoever to come up with a slogan like that, and yet the anti-gun people can’t counter it.

Not to mention, the gun control people have a fundamental problem. Gun control isn’t politically popular.   Since 1990, Gallup has been asking Americans whether they think gun control laws should be stricter. The answer is that they don’t.

“The percentage in favor of making the laws governing the sale of firearms ‘more strict’ fell from 78% in 1990 to 62% in 1995, and 51% in 2007,” reports Gallup. “In the most recent reading, Gallup in 2010 found 44% in favor of stricter laws. In fact, in 2009 and again last year, the slight majority said gun laws should either remain the same or be made less strict.”

However, that isn’t to say the gun control movement has no shot. The same people who don’t want stricter gun control laws are the typical waffling American, which means they will also talk out of the other side of their mouths and favor silly bits of feel-goodism like banning possession of semi-automatic rifles, when it is the fully-automatic jobs that are the big gun “boogie man,” despite the fact they are already illegal to possess without a federal firearms license.

The part that really drives home the stupidity of the anti-gun crowd is that while they keep making their appeals in the aftermath of yet another tragedy, according to the Pew Research Center, mass shootings don’t change public opinion.

There has been no significant change in public views on the issue of gun control and gun rights following the July 20th shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado. Currently, 47% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 46% say it is more important to protect the rights of Americans to own guns. That is virtually unchanged from a survey earlier this year in April, when 45% prioritized gun control and 49% gun rights.

Other recent major shootings also had little effect on public opinion about gun laws. There was no significant change in the balance of opinion about gun rights and gun control after the January, 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona in which Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was injured. Nor was there a spike in support for gun control following the shooting at Virginia Tech University in April, 2007.

Sandy Hook will be no different.  To be successful, the anti-gun crowd needs to change it approach, and they have demonstrated time and time again they are too stupid to see that. They don’t understand that you can’t win converts with emotional appeals in the wake of publicized tragedies, because emotions fade and facts are forever.

2) Gun laws only exist to make anti-gun people feel better

This is an undeniable truth about gun laws. The NRA will have you believing that guns laws only disarm law-abiding citizens, which while true completely misses the point.  The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Morons like Lupica continually try to assault the Second Amendment, using logic like “…written for muskets.” A commenter on the Deadspin article made a tremendous point on this subject:

“If the Second Amendment was written for muskets, I guess the First Amendment was only written for printing press newspapers. “

Technology doesn’t change principles; besides, there is a proscribed method for changing the Constitution.  If you don’t like it; avail yourselves of the process and do something substantive rather than pass toothless, unenforceable laws.

Let’s look at some pertinent facts which make gun laws pointless; look at this list and tell me which ones would have prevented Sandy Hook.

  • Under existing laws, the federal government performed 14 million background checks on gun purchases last year.
  • Another existing law, The Federal Gun Free School Zone Act of 1995, made it illegal for even licensed gun owners to walk within 1,000 feet of any school (kindergarten to 12th grade) while carrying a gun.
  • The majority of guns used to commit crimes were obtained illegally.
  • Federal law requires gun owners to report to law enforcement any guns known to have been lost or stolen.

There’s two other facts which really screw up the gun control crowd’s arguments.  While 70 to 80 million Americans own guns, which means 40-45% of households in the U.S. contain at least one  gun. Despite that, gun ownership is declining in America, according to political scientist Patrick Egan.

 “…long-term trends suggest that we are in fact currently experiencing a waning culture of guns and violence in the United States. “

The second fact is that violent crime in America is also on the decline, per the FBI.

Violent crime rates in the U.S. are reaching historic lows, according to new FBI data released Monday.  Instances of murder declined overall by 1.9 percent from 2010 figures, while rape, robbery and aggravated assault declined by 4 percent nationwide, according to records from more than 14,000 law-enforcement agencies around the country, FBI spokesman Bill Carter told msnbc.com.

Know what means, Lupica? That means despite your best attempts to advance your failed cause on the bodies of dead children, despite your best effort to capitalize on anecdotal evidence, America is not becoming a “shooting gallery.”

When you consider all of this, why do the anti-gun people keep beating their heads against the same wall?  The only answer that makes sense is that gun laws are about making the anti-gun people feel like they have accomplished something, when in fact they have accomplished nothing.

3) Gun laws are virtually unenforceable

This is the big reason why gun laws are pointless. Go back to the statistic about 70 to 80 million Americans owning guns, which means 40-45% of households in the U.S. contain at least one  gun. That’s just the guns we know about.  Stop to consider and combine that statistic with the fact that the majority of crimes committed using a gun involved an illegal obtaining of said gun.

It begs the question just exactly how many guns are there in America today? How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop? Nobody really knows.  The FBI estimates that there are over 200 million privately-owned firearms in the U.S. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms puts the number closer to 250 million. When you combine that number with all the guns owned by the military and law enforcement, the number of guns in this country is probably somewhere between 300 and 350 million, all of which can be acquired through legal sale, illegal sale, and theft.

Do you know how large a number 350 million is? That’s  more Big Macs than McDonald’s sells in six months. That’s twice the number of barrels of beer produced by Anheuser-Busch in a year. That’s more than enough for at least one gun for every man, woman, and child in America.

In other words, trying to get rid of guns in America would be like trying to soak up the ocean with a mop.  If for no other reason, you’re simply too late; the gun genie is out of the bottle and there’s no putting it back in.

Face it, the only way you can have real gun control is if you confiscate all the guns. That’s a pretty tall order considering nobody really knows how many there are to grab in the first place.  Not to mention, even if you did know, the only way to ensure you’ve collected them all is to start kicking down doors in some sort of Nazi-esque forced collection. The really fun part is that the minute you do that, you instantly legitimize all the right-wing militia kooks who have been saying all along that’s where this country was headed.  Then, the revolution really starts.

Like it or not, the only thing Americans love more than cars is guns.  As of January 2011, 39 states have laws permitting individuals with gun licenses to carry them concealed.  Most states do not require the registration of guns.  You are never going to get the guns out of America, so it’s time to look for another solution, because what the anti-gun crowd is doing now will not, nor will it ever work.  As easy as it has been to blame guns, it has been equally ineffective.

Why have we been so interested in blaming guns? Because it is far easier for “symbolism over substance” America to demonize inanimate chunks of metal rather than to come to grips with the fact that our society is producing murderous sociopaths.  Fixing that problem requires more than a quick bit of feel-goodism.

Deep down, even guys like Lupica and Obama know this.  In fact, even the anti-gun people don’t trust President Obama. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence graded Obama an “F” on gun control, citing “extraordinary silence and passivity.” But that didn’t stop him from making sure we saw him spend 45 minutes telling us how terrible killing children is…like he has an exclusive grasp of the obvious.

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12 responses

18 12 2012
Patrick Young

I used to belong to the NRA. It was a gift from an uncle when i got home the Navy. I cancelled my membership when i got tired of my mailbox being filled with junk mail trying to sell me World War II memorabillia and History Channel DVD sets. I especially was tired of of my phone ringing non stop during every election cycle with people trying to poll me from every topic from abortion to forced registration for migrant farm workers in California. I let the membership lapse out of annoyance for the bullshit, but I always supported the cause.

With that said the NRA and its sister organizations need to get the fuck over themselves. The anti-gun crowd will never be able to get past their thought process that the solution is a total ban. Much like the killings in Mississipi sparked support for the civil rights movement in the 60′s, I think Newtown will be the spark that finally ignites a debate that perhaps has been a long time coming.

If we as gun owners do not soften our stance and join in the discussion about how to end gun violence, then the anti-gun crowd will be the only voice present, and we know what they want to do. As gun owners, we cannot hide behind slogans or feign patriotism.

Like he said in his speech; “This cannot be the price of our freedom.”

We have to stop gun violence. As gun owners, we are not only the most affected, but the ones most qualified and required to be heard. There is going to be a change in America, with or without or input.

18 12 2012
J-Dub

I get exactly where you are coming from. I too am a veteran and a gun owner, although I never joined the NRA because I knew about all the lobbying bullshit they put people through like you mentioned.

“This cannot be the price of our freedom.” Well, like it or not, today in America it is EXACTLY that, and both the NRA and the Mike Lupicas of the world share the blame, because at the end of the day, neither side really gives a shit about gun crime. They don’t have to because the average American doesn’t either.

The NRA, as you said, is a major political lobbying organization, and regardless of political stripe, one common factor for any major political organization is that it is all about money. As for the anti-gun people, the NRA is a wonderful fund-raising tool; as long as the “right-wing gun nuts” have such a powerful organization, it is easy to scare their side into larger cash contributions.

Let’s say for the sake of argument we could get the NRA and the Lupicas into a room and they hashed out compromise that for the most part solved the gun crime problem. Guess what else happens? The NRA and all those anti-gun Washington lobbyists suddenly have no reason to exist. Call me a cynic, but I just don’t picture a bunch of guys who have engineered bloated executive-level salaries for themselves being in a big hurry to suddenly cut off the gravy train.

That being said, to use your words, that means the organizations on BOTH sides “need to get the fuck over themselves.” Money is only on reason they won’t; the other is the American people aren’t likely anytime soon to force them to do so. See, another ugly truth about the majority of Americans is that we have far too many people who A) don’t understand what it takes to really effect change and B) have a current events attention span of about two weeks.

Since you mentioned Mississippi in the 60′s, allow me to make the following comparison. One of the big reasons the civil rights movement was a success was that we had people like the “Freedom Riders;” people who will willing to get off their asses and risk being buried in a stock dam somewhere in order to be a part of what really drives change: Action. In comparison, today in this country, short of the military, law enforcement, and firefighters, we simply aren’t producing enough people willing to put their “money where their mouths are.” Now, we have too many people who think effecting change means wearing some sort of ribbon or posting some electronic “chain letter” on their Facebook pages.

That’s why I have to disagree that Newtown will be the genesis of change for anything. It’s not like this is the first time some lunatic shot up a school, and it surely isn’t the first time a bunch of kids died needlessly. Sadly, it won’t be the first time a tragedy like this won’t drive the change we both agree needs to happen. Columbine didn’t change anything, nor did the countless school shootings before or since. After all, the federal law I cited that created an gun exclusion zone around schools was enacted in 1995, and look at where we are today. Trust me, I hate that, but my feelings don’t make it any less true.

The simple fact is that we tend to have “outrage of the day” syndrome in this country. Today, it’s Newtown. A while ago, it was Trayvon Martin. This time next month it will be something else. That’s the way it is going to be until those of us who are not NRA members or a Mike Lupica make it happen.

18 12 2012
Bob Segal

Two great comments on the gun issue. As a non-owner, but supporter of our right to one firearms it is time for the pro-gun lobby to begin a campaign to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Not just criminals, but anyone who does not have the capacity mentally or physically to handle a firearm. We need a license to drive, to hold a pilots license, to drive a waverunner. Why? To protect us from killing ourselves or some innocent who might get in our way. It’s time for sane gun owners to step to the forefront and help.

18 12 2012
J-Dub

I agree wholeheartedly, but again I assert it is up to EVERYBODY to drive a solution to this problem.

19 12 2012
aero

The fault lies not in guns but in ourselves. We have met the enemy and they are us. The fact is that if someone is determined to obtain a gun, they will. This gun control talk is a waste of time. We should be developing defensive measures in order to keep our children safe.

19 12 2012
sportschump

Personally, I’m looking forward to the made-for-tv movie about the entire incident.

20 12 2012
J-Dub

The question is…who plays Mike Lupica?

21 12 2012
ChrisHumpherys (@SportsChump)

Bob Costas. Obviously.

19 12 2012
Ryan Meehan

The media goes out of their way to make these fruitballs iconoclast. Although you can’t blame the media (which is incredibly liberal) for the shooting itself, you CAN blame them for almost guaranteeing the next one of these wackjobs to do this in a public place (whether it be a school, a church, or elsewhere) will have his name and life story plastered all over every cable news channel for weeks to come.

Like it or not, THAT’S the real problem here. As comedian Jim Norton said the other night, the media knows where the line between reporting the problem and exploiting it is, and they don’t care.

I don’t think having the members of the media agreeing to a pact where they simply WON’T report the guy’s name would be a problem. I just don’t see how that is too much to ask. They do it for rape victims don’t they? And not comparing the two by their situations, just saying that it IS possible.

Meehan

20 12 2012
J-Dub

There’s a shitload of truth in that. It boils down to using tragedy for your own benefit.

21 12 2012
sportsattitudes

On one hand, you feel like an idiot for worrying about whether or not a football game is being pre-empted when the subject matter of the “interruption” is such a horrific, monsterous event. On the other, you feel like an idiot for being subjected to such an obvious attempt to politicize the moment and make one’s self look like a “hero” in the process. I was embarassed for the nation during such a solumn event that the President of the United States would hijack that memorial service for such an empty, meaningless, self-serving speech. And that’s what it was, a political speech. It was not a tribute to those who died…nor an inspiration to those left to carry on. Seeing that only made me feel worse…for Newtown and the nation.

21 12 2012
J-Dub

Yet another great comment on this awful situation. I know that Obama is a politician, a group of people who are by definition self-serving asswipes, but that speech hit a new low for me.

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