Yesterday, I wrote very briefly about a prayer group appropriating personal tragedy for pious purposes. Today I’d like to consider the more general problem. Whenever we encounter almost any tragic situation in the mass media, there is immediately a crush of activists striving to craft a segue to their pet cause.
What we're seeing with gun violence in America is the logical conclusion of unrestricted capitalism.
— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) October 1, 2015
I'm hearing that all 10 of the people murdered in the #OregonShooting were women. Can someone confirm?
— Brianna Wu (@Spacekatgal) October 2, 2015
Violence in the United States is absolutely a gendered problem. Mass shootings are a gendered problem. We need to understand that to fix it.
— Jonathan McIntosh (@radicalbytes) October 3, 2015
If you want to stop the killings, learn to celebrate men like only gay men still do. It will work. http://t.co/6j0mvMnzrD
— Milo Yiannopoulos (@Nero) October 2, 2015
Is not a gun problem is a morality problem. We taught our children they come from animals n they starting to act like animals. #UCCshooting
— Jordan Rodriguez (@jordanicolasr) October 1, 2015
— National Review (@NRO) October 3, 2015
— The Skeptic Magazine (@TheSkepticMag) September 3, 2015
— Angie Power-Disney (@angiepowerdisne) October 2, 2015
The list goes on and on. I noticed a few animal rights folks getting in on the action yesterday, resharing an article about how animal cruelty is an underappreciated warning sign for future murderous outbursts. (Oddly enough, those tweets have since gone missing.)
I completely understand the impulse to frame emotionally-charged highly-discussed events in terms of our own priorities and worldview, but we need to pause to ask ourselves, every time, whether we have enough facts to say with confidence that we are offering solutions which are truly relevant to the social problem at hand. Otherwise, we run the risk of reducing human suffering to a springboard for leaping atop our favorite high horse.