Sunday, December 16, 2012

On Politicizing Tragedy

After the school shootings in Connecticut, there were some calls for gun control, followed by some accusations of politicizing the tragedy, with the response coming that politics is essentially how things get done, so what these naysayers are doing is essentially ensuring nothing ever gets done when there is energy to do so.  People responded to things like terrorist attacks politics; why not something as horrific as the killing of a score of children?

And I agree.  If someone genuinely believes that tighter gun control laws would prevent or mitigate events like this, and is willing to work diligently to pass them, then by all means go for it with my admiration.

But, risking some offense against charity, this is not how I would categorize much of the advocacy I've been seeing.

A lot of what I have been seeing is an effort to pin the tragedy on Those People who oppose gun control.  There's some mention that some gun control might stop this, followed by an immediate lamentation that such a thing would never happen here, because, you know, Those People would never let it.  The invocation of 9/11 gives the game away.  I suspect most of those making such an argument would not regard the period following 9/11 as the zenith of policy-making wisdom.  Why would we want to repeat the process that produced two wars, the modern TSA, color-coded terror warnings, torture, the Patriot Act, and probably a bunch of things I'm not thinking of?  This is less an argument for the wisdom of policies than a whine from a younger brother that his older brother got to overreact to a tragedy, so why can't he?

On the morning of the shootings, Conor Friedersdorf wrote what I think is a prescient post about how cultural traditionalist need to make persuasive arguments rather than simply expressing disgust.  If you really want to enact controls to stop attacks, it won't do to just talk about how awful the NRA is.  You're going to have to do the hard work of convincing people, and working some changes through the legislative process.  Those willing to do that have my admiration; those who stop at name-calling do not.


While common sense does suggest that reducing access to powerful weapons would at a minim um make such massacres more difficult, I do think we need to go deeper.

As a pro-life veteran, I have heard many times that simply banning something does not remove the desire for it.  That those wishing to end something must also work to address the root causes of the behavior, and work against those.

Our society is apparently producing people who think shooting up a kindergarten is a swell idea.

That reveals a fundamental sickness -- not just in the people who commit these crimes, but in our society.  That someone would entertain such a thought for half a second reveals a radical disconnection from children and what care goes into them.

Tighter gun control laws may limit the damage such people can do, and that is certainly a worthwhile goal.  But it addresses a symptom, not the disease.

Of course, the problem is that I don't know the best way to treat this disease.  I have some ideas, mostly grounded more in how we treat each other in daily life than federal policies, but I honestly don't know if that will work.

I wish I could say the problem is that Those People won't let us enact sensible gun control, but in my heart I know that's not the fundamental problem.

Taking my Talents To South Lake Union (Amazon in Seattle)

I have been offered and accepted a position to work for Amazon at their offices in  Seattle on their customer service applications.  I will be moving there in early January, with the rest of my family joining me at the end of the school year.

This is obviously a very big and important decision for us.  We have built a life here in St. Louis and been surrounded by wonderful people, and it is not easy to think about leaving it behind.

I came to St. Louis for the first time in 1993, almost twenty years ago.  In that time I have graduated college, gotten married, had two children, held six full time jobs, been a part of two different faith communities, helped people become Catholic, taught many children and adults about both the faith and software development, and learned from many along the way.  In leaving the St. Louis community, I am leaving behind a good part of who I have been.

But I think this is the best move for me to continue the growth that has happened here.  I will have an opportunity to work on a critical application for one of the companies that is shaping the present and future.   This will also put me close to the ocean, and close to some of my in-laws.  We will be surrounded by many of the sharpest professionals in my field.

Reflecting on my time in St. Louis, I am quite thankful for many people who have welcomed me and helped me and our family grow.  In particular:

  • The faith communities at the Catholic Student Center at Washington University, and Holy Spirit Parish
  • My co-workers at the jobs I have had over the years, in particular the people at MasterCard and BJC, with whom I shared five years each.
  • The school communities the girls have been a part of, especially their current school of Rose Acres.
As I plan my move to Seattle, I bring a bit of you with me.  I ask you to keep me and our family in your prayers (particularly this week as Meagan goes in to the hospital for an IV "tune up"), and you will be in mine.