How different is “gun control” from “massacre prevention?” Or “gun violence” from “male gun violence?”
It’s 2:00am in Thailand as I type but I can’t sleep. The news is rolling in about the dead children. There aren’t many photos, but those few are tough not to enter into. Children with their hands on each other’s shoulders as they walk away from a scene that some have already called the second deadliest school shooting in American history. Tiny little lives with tiny little eyes that saw and tiny little ears that heard and tiny little bodies that felt things their brilliant imaginations hadn’t the hard experiences yet to imagine.
Commentary on my Facebook was typical. The heartbreak. The radical discussions of guns that should happen in between such horrible shootings and not merely immediately after them. But then this post came through:
It wasn’t necessarily anything entirely new, but it struck me in the moment of emotion: what we call things is damn important. But how important? I recalled the poetry lessons I taught on the hypocrisies of the USA PATRIOT Act, then thought of the inherent advantage of “Pro Life.” Veterans Day came to mind and then Armistice Day and then how the US Department of War was changed into what we know today: the US Department of Defense. Massacre prevention. What if during every debate we had on guns we were forced to say massacre? Would more minds make the natural associative leap to the images and emotions of the latest massacre? Surely that would have an impact on something, right? Then a response rolled in:
Dang. This got me thinking even more. What result might there be if we implemented this change? If blame for crimes was gender-slanted if, say, there was a 90% majority amongst the perpetrators of said crime? In this case, would the blame merely shame men, heighten how women rarely do such things or have any impact at all on anything?
I don’t know. All I know is that my study of poetry has sensitized me to the power words and their repetition. At what point does this and can this work on a societal level? At what point should we the people, not we the political think-tanks or we the majority whips, begin to start asking not how to change the conversation but how to change how we change the conversation?
My thoughts go out to everyone impacted by this tragic event.