By Barney Blakeney
The Dec. 14 massacre of 20 six-year-old children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. defies understanding or explanation. America is shocked and saddened. And in the wake of the killings the debate over the right to own and bear arms is refueled.
I find the thought of the incident horrific. Somehow, it seems easier to think of adult massacre victims. I find any murder abhorrent. But to think of those children being killed like that ... it hurts deep.
Like a lot of folks, I’ve got a special love for kids. They’re a wonder. No, a miracle.
Sometimes I’ll look at a kid and think about the miraculous physical transformation they go through from infant to adult. Sometimes I think about the babies which became the adults I see.
It takes a sick person to take a life, but to take the life of a child truly is madness. That the perpetrator of last week’s massacre shot some of his innocent defenseless victims over and over says the guy was out of his mind.
That some argue whether America now should begin to make it more difficult for the mentally challenged to obtain weapons says we’re just as crazy.
In his town meeting address in Newtown following the massacre, President Barack Obama said we’re not doing enough to prevent the kind of madness that was played out at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The tragedies must end, he said.
More laws won’t do the trick, Obama offered. During the Civil Rights Movement someone noted that while we could legislate people’s action’s, we couldn't legislate their hearts. Likewise with atrocities such as the Newtown massacre. We can’t legislate such sickness into oblivion.
You see, from infancy to death our society is fed a steady diet of violence. It’s as if the madness has become a part of our DNA.
I watch a lot of television. Well mostly, the television is watching me. But I’m amazed at some of the commercials I see advertising video games that promote savagery and violence as entertainment.
The same is true with the programming itself. Much of what’s on television depicts insane savagery as every day occurrences. And today’s music is notorious for its violence.
But the savagery didn't start with modern music, television programs or video games. Our history is fraught with savagery and violence.
Since the beginning of man we have moved through our existence clubbing each other. We are taught to perpetrate savagery and violence against one another to get whatever it is we want, even if it’s only five minutes of fame.
Over the past weekend I saw stories of violence perpetrated from the slave yards of Bunce Island in Sierra Leone to Sullivans Island in South Carolina and how America, while massacring Native Americans for their land at places like Wounded Knee, fought its most deadly war killing over 600,000 of its sons to sustain an economic system rooted in slavery, savagery and violence.
My partner Clyde shot me an email Monday recalling how Malcolm X told us there’s always a violent atrocity in America and how Billie Holiday sang about ‘strange fruit’ of southern trees.
As shocking as the Newtown massacre may be, America shouldn't be surprised. We kill babies every day when we fail to share our wisdom and technology with people who lack food, water and medicine.
Each year in America tens of thousands of our babies are killed on urban streets. Some call it Black on Black violence others call it an epidemic.
Last week, right here in Charleston a young woman was sentenced to 15 years in prison for her role in the murder of a child whose father placed the baby’s lifeless body in a trash can then filled it with cement.
Malcolm said the chickens are coming home to roost and Dick Gregory said recess is almost over, Clyde reminded me in his email. The Newtown slayer’s mother bought assault weapons and taught her son to shoot when she should have taught him how to care for others, Clyde said.
In his address to the folks in Newtown, Obama implored that to end the tragedy we must change. Is this violence the price of freedom, he asked.
Personally, I think the price is too high. But already the debate whether to tighten gun laws has begun when instead we should be figuring ways to eliminate the need for guns. But that option isn't in the equation. Ours is among the most violent societies on the planet. And we love it.