Just in time for back-to-school, it’s not a sale on dresses or 2-for-1 deal on spiral notebooks that’s noteworthy, it’s a Public Service Announcement courtesy of Sandy Hook Promise.
What’s most noticeable is what’s not happening: there was no mass shooting this morning to anchor the outrage.
This is a turning point in how we talk about gun violence in America, an invitation to all of us who’ve had enough, an invitation to go radio silent the next time there’s a mass shooting, an invitation to infuriate the man-babies still playing bang-bang shoot-shoot, an invitation to give them nothing, which is all they deserve.
I got lucky in how I first saw the PSA. I happened to be watching MSNBC and when they came back to the studio, there was a parent who lost a child sitting across from an anchor. Both times this happened, the anchor had to hold back tears and the gesture of holding back tears infuriated me.
I wanted to say, “You don’t get to cry, make believe pundit, sitting across from an actual parent who lost an actual child. Sitting in your comfortable studio, you’ve made yourself into a millionaire by turning mass shootings into a ratings bonanza. You get to sit there. Quietly! You get to listen without shedding a single goddamn tear. There’s no crying in baseball and there’s no crying on camera.”
It’s cold comfort to those of us who don’t need to wait for someone we love to be the next casualty of a mass shooting before we see the writing on the wall. All day long, there was a parade of parents from Sandy Hook, from Parkland.
But for some reason, not from the South Side of Chicago. But. For. Some. Reason.
I couldn’t help but notice, as the day rolled along, how the image of a school girl using her knee high socks as a tourniquet to stop the bleeding of a friend who’d been shot was cut from the introduction to the PSA. It begs the question…
How weak are we? We need to be protected? From bearing witness? To an imaginary school shooting?
“That image is too graphic,” I can hear the Line Producer at MSNBC saying. “We need to cut it from the broadcast.”
Here’s the one thing they cannot cut: as the shooting unfolds, the students are deliberately casual as if to say they’re used to it and that, to me, is far more gruesome than a bloody sock.