No doubt like many Americans, I watched the lengthy memorial service from Newtown, Connecticut Sunday evening seeking catharsis, some aid in digesting the inexplicable and the horrific.
It was inspiring to see clergy from all organized faiths coming together in the cause of peace and reason, and to hear words from President Obama. The most moving part of the service to me was what occurred on camera before it began: the standing ovation afforded the beloved and extraordinarily-gifted first responders as they entered, and individuals in the audience that were obviously family members of the victims collapsing in prolonged and tight hugs into the arms of others that are in the same position.
As I expected, the president recognized that this was not a policy address, but a memorial service, thus he spoke only in general terms about what we need to do in the hope of saving precious innocent lives in the future. It is clear that he will finally seek to act to restrain unlimited access to guns that are designed to kill as many human beings as possible within a short period of time. He appropriately noted the folly in concluding that we are powerless to take any action designed to keep children and other potential victims safe.
Following the service, New York Times syndicated columnist Frank Bruni was interviewed. He said that due to the age and innocence of the multiple Newtown victims, he senses a change in the mood in the country, that many will press to shove aside the National Rifle Association and take action, and he inveighed that we have a duty to act even if it will not be perfect or assured of success, that it would be worth it if one massacre a year might be prevented or the lives of a few children saved.
I would suggest that anyone who believes that there is any one quick fix, or that our societal problems can be solved through one solution is being naive. Many phenomemena have been pointed to in the days since the massacre: rampant untreated mental illness, the gun culture, easy availability of high-powered firearms, the putrid entertainment culture, the violent video games this killer is said to have played incessantly, desensitizing him to pulling the trigger of a gun, and the lack of religion in our schools. I believe it is instructive to note that the rate of gun ownership in Israel is roughly the same as it is in the United States, yet Israelis do not go into schools, shopping centers, or movie theaters to engage in slaughter.
In viewing a sampling of massacre coverage from both CNN and Fox News Channel, both used opportunities to sensitively portray the victims and to tell us something about their lives. Following the service, both inexplicably delved into not only focusing on the killer, but repeatedly putting large photographs of him on the screen, something which I find to be reprehensible. What is wrong with the management of these networks? Why do they not recognize the legitimate theory that those who seek to commit suicide after murdering as many innocent people as possible seek in death what they were not able to achieve in life, that they want to be known and remembered? God forbid that more mentallty deficient individuals are out there with the desire to replicate the evil that was thrust upon the good people of close-knit Newtown in part due to media aggrandizement.