Did you wear a black arm band/ when they shot the man/ who said peace would last forever?/ And in my first memories/ they shot Kennedy/ and I went numb before I learned to see.
“Civil War,” Guns N Roses
By Neil Schulman
Sometime in the summer of 2014, I just turned off the newsI didn’t want to learn about a man strangled by police for selling cigarettes. I didn’t want to see another riot in Ferguson. I didn’t want to see ISIS beheading people. I didn’t want to hear another stupid, petty battle in Congress. I didn’t want to hear another word about the situation in the Gaza Strip. I didn’t want to hear how Russians had shot down a passenger plane over the Ukraine in a civil war they started. I didn’t want to hear the world mourn Robin Williams or the other numerous pointless deaths that happened.
The news was so bad that I looked forward to hearing about Ebola reports. Sure, it was growing exponentially, and there’s no known cure, but at least we know how to prevent it from spreading. It was a case where it looked like a solution was possible.
Of course, I was not happy with the fact that the most cheerful piece of news was “Thousands dying due to catastrophically bad epidemic management.” I was just less unhappy with it than with anything else.
So I turned off the news. For several weeks, I avoided not only the headlines, but the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, programs I love.
I know at least one person, a Democrat, who had a similar reaction in November after the elections. The world had just become too damn depressing to pay attention to.
And the bullhorn crackles/ and the captain grapples/ with the problem and the hows and whys/ He can see no reasons/ cause there are no reasons./ What reasons do you need to die?
“I Don’t Like Mondays,”
I began this Random Thought a few days after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo in France, and it’s another situation where I just can’t work up the appropriate degree of outrage I think I should be feeling.
I’m still too numbed by the other crap in the world, and the situation is too senseless for me to really connect.
What the terrorists did was indefensible. What they did was stupid. What they did was senseless. But — and it’s depressing that I should be able to think this way — what they did was shockingly unoriginal.
Bursting into a newspaper run by your critics and slaughtering everyone there? That seems like such a Nazi or Soviet era technique. Saying these people had to die because of their offensive portrayal of Islam? People thought that was stupid when Salman Rushdie needed to go into hiding 26 years ago. Taking a store full of Jews hostage in an attempt to escape? The Chosen People have been in the crossfire of senseless ideological wars like this since before the Crusades. Stories about how Muslims fear backlash, and how these killings don’t represent real Islam? Again, it’s something we hear after every terrorist attack.
Conversations on the use and risk of satire and freedom of the press? The First Amendment was passed in 1791. We know where America stands on this issue.
Really, this whole — incredibly tragic — story could have been written by grabbing any article from the last terrorist attack and changing the names.
Should we condemn these attacks? That barely qualifies as a rhetorical question. Of course we should condemn them.
It takes no effort or thought whatsoever to see that these were unmitigated evil. Last week, I spent more time agonizing over what sort of trail mix to buy at the supermarket than whether these attacks were bad or not. At least there’s a decision to be made over whether the mix with a lot of macadamia nuts is worth the extra money; there’s a conversation to be had.
Like 99.9 percent of the people in the world, I only learned that Charlie Hebdo existed when I heard about the slaughter. But they seemed to like real cutting-edge, sharp satire. They’d probably be outraged by the sheer unoriginality of how they died.
The Boomtown Rats wrote “I Don’t Like Mondays” in 1979, as a reaction to a 16-year-old girl who shot up a school yard, and gave that as the reason. It’s as good as any reason you can give for any mass shooting.
And though the news was rather sad/ Well I just had to laugh
“A Day In The Life,” The Beatles
On August 23, 2012, The Onion had to do something it rarely does: offer a correction. That’s because The Onion, a satirical paper, makes up every single story.
But hours after one ran, they had to change the headline, from “Nation Celebrates Full Week Without Deadly Mass Shooting” to “UPDATE: Never Mind.” The change was made after the shooting at the Empire State Building.
It’s super sad when life can’t live up to the belief that a particular sort of horrible tragedy shouldn’t occur more than once every eight days.
I find this sort of black humor is a good way to deal with tragedies. Onion headlines last week included “World Unites In Desire To Have A Little More Time Between Terrorist Attacks,” and “Mankind Tired Of Having To Remind Itself Of Good In World.”
Maybe, rather than think about what’s happened in France, I’ll read some of the articles on the site like “Man Looks on Helplessly As Friend Tells Him Story He’s Already Heard,” or look at funny photos of cats somewhere else on the internet.
I’m still burned out on tragedy.