Two years ago in the Blogorama I revealed why I sometimes have difficulty dealing with Christmas. It was witnessing the dreadful anguish of a family that had lost a newborn child and the realisation that Christmas Day would for them forever be a reminder of that grief.
This year there is another image. It is of a town in which Christmas will not be celebrated; a town that has packed away its brightly-wrapped presents, turned off its lights and taken down its decorations. A town that has been attacked – violated in the most disgusting, brutal and heartbreaking way conceivable.
They say that big boys don’t cry. This one did, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I defy any reasonable human being to witness all that anguish and be unmoved. It is a tribute to the innate decency of most people that the overwhelming majority of the responses to this vile act have shown that people care. America and the world has stretched out its arms in solace to the community of Newtown.
But it was only a majority. Would that it had been everyone.
In what has been described as a train wreck of a press conference, Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice-President of the National Rifle Association, bizarrely announced that the solution should be more guns. He called for an armed police guard in each of America’s more than 130,000 schools.
He wilfully ignores the facts.
In 2009 thirteen people were killed and 29 injured in a mass shooting at Fort Hood, an army base full of people with guns AND trained to use them. An armed guard couldn’t prevent thirteen deaths at Columbine High School. Finally, he ignores the first rule of attack – knock out the sentry!
You will never stop people from becoming unhinged, but you can mitigate the misery they can cause. On the same day as the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary a man in China went on the rampage in a primary school in Chenpeng. The difference? He was armed with a knife and all his victims survived. Go figure, Wayne!
In the wake of the Hungerford and Dunblane shootings the UK government, with massive public support, tightened the controls on gun ownership. We remain comparatively free of these atrocities precisely because you cannot just walk into a store and buy a gun. Ease of access to weapons is the problem, and, until that is addressed America’s schools, its cinemas, its malls will never be safe.
And then there’s the repugnant ordure that is the Westboro Baptist “Church”. As sure as night follows day the WBC, with its usual foul insensitivity, froths at the mouth and wades in to say that it will picket the funerals of the victims of Newtown. It is impossible to find words to describe how far beneath contempt these evil creatures are.
Make no mistake. This is no church. No real Christian would behave that way. It stands rightly denounced, alone and isolated. It hides cravenly behind the 1st Amendment and bleats like a spoilt child when it receives a dose of the hatred it so liberally spews out. (Surely by their own reasoning that’s to be expected – Galatians 6:7 – “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”)
It is, however, highly refreshing to see the tidal wave of disgust with which the internet has erupted in response and difficult to resist a little Schadenfreude as Anonymous systematically takes these scumbags apart. An example (among THOUSANDS!) from Twitter “If #WBC is mad now, wait till the morning. Advanced monkeys with big wrenches are unscrewing their playhouse now.”
WBC justify their actions and claim that the reaction to their repugnant activities merely provides a wider platform for their message. They are wrong there too. What is clear is that people long ago gave up listening to the message and are now just incensed by the unfeeling, callous and deeply un-Christian way in which it is expressed.
I sincerely hope that you all have a great day tomorrow, but it somehow feels wrong to wish everyone a Merry Christmas. So, forgive me, I’m not going to do it. I will, however, say three things.
To all those who have raised their voices in challenge to the NRA’s nonsense and shown their willingness to tackle the political Behemoth of gun control in the genuine hope that one day we can really say “never again” – THANK YOU!
To all those people – bikers, builders, police officers, firefighters, ordinary men and women of all creeds and none – who continue to turn out, in a spirit of human decency, to shield grieving families from the WBC’s filth – THANK YOU!
To the people of Newtown – we feel your pain and we weep with you.