The problem is that there have been five shootings so far in January 2013. Sandy Hook is just a drop in the ocean. Plus a rap on Media Literacy.
It was a legitimate question, one that lead to a good discussion; I think it's worth sharing here because the underlying issues of media literacy and the epidemic of gun violence are impotant. They are part of what it means to be alive in the early 21st century - this is our contemporary situation.
The quick and easy answer was "No...", but what followed was the small painting of a portrait of news coverage today. We talked about The Onion - which, if you don't know, is a completely fake, satire-based media outlet. We talked about how some foreign extremists have (literally...) used cannon fodder from conservative media as justification for their beliefs - I still recall hearing something like 'Yes, that is legitimately an American position, they have a senior military official saying it'. I brought up Libya, and how it is still awkwardly discussed in domestic US politics.
The trouble is that there is a market for every opinion, leaning, or anything profitable. I even referenced my own website and endeavors - anyone can make something like this, and claim to be a purveyor of truth. Or at least of something worth reading and talking about. But thus is 'the nature of the beast'; there is so much information and opinion, it's not all true or valid. But it's there, out there, waiting for someone to digest it.
We talked about videos, about YouTube. "Why doesn't someone [take off / monitor false videos of YouTube]?"
Again, valid question. It's simple, but think about it - why not? We talked about Twitter, and it's ability or lack there of to censor content on it. But there's just no way. There is an unprecedented amount of video-creating, producing, and sharing technology out there. Most people with a mobile device or computer could get a video up within five minutes - add some fancy editing and ominous music and you have a legitimat conspiracy video. That's right, 'legitimate conspiracy video'.
But what's the bottom line about a potential government plot to use Sandy Hook as a means for takeover, control, or extinguishing your liberties?
I've been tracking public shootings in the United States much more seriously ever since it happened. I had been saying ever since that Colorado, Batman movie shootings "It seems like we can't go two weeks without a public shootings'. I echoed that same sentiment earlier in January:
— Jesse Parent (@_JesseParent) January 10, 2013
I'm actually not someone who would put any government above the realm of damaging its own people for political gain. It has undoubtedly happened before, and I'm sure it will happen again.
That said, the unfortunate reality is that it simply doesn't matter if Sandy Hook was fake or not. There have been five shootings in January alone. I wouldn't bet that there won't be anymore, even with only seven days left in the month. I know some of my friends who go abroad, or even my international friends - as Americans we get faced with the curiosity "Does everyone in America have a gun?". No, not everyone.
But are shootings absurdly present in our society? Yes, yes they are - and to me that is not a government conspiracy. If you take Sandy Hook out of the picture, pretend it never happened, the United States still has a gun control problem. Sandy Hook brought a lot of emotionality, tears, and perhaps unprecedented news coverage in some ways. Yet Sandy Hooks is merely a drop in the ocean that is gun violence here in America.
Lets look at the facts. According to the U.N.'s office on drugs and crime, the U.S. gun homicide rate is 30 times that of France or Australia and it is 12 times higher than the average for other developed countries. Why is that?
Fareed ends the piece by saying here in America, we do not lack answers - but we are lacking courage. I'd say courage, and also a clear sense of what compromises the issue; it's not just about Sandy Hook, or gun violence, or gun laws - but also the media literacy and reality needed to understand what the salient factors are. There is, unfortunately, not a strong market for such - perhaps this why it takes a Sandy Hook jar people into wondering if this is, in fact, quite a substantial problem.