The Normalization of Murder: Newtown Demonstrates How Some Life is Worth More
Undoubtedly, you’ve heard of the recent murders at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. The news has been full of the story.
Today, I heard a speaker talk in memoriam of the Newtown elementary school shooting. He spoke of how we often darkly immortalize the killers, remembering their names long after we forget the names of the victims. The Dahmers, the McVeys, etc… He, instead, read off the names of each of those killed in Newtown, challenging everyone to remember one and honor their death. It stirred up emotion in me, though not perhaps what the speaker expected.
I was enraged. I still am. Since the shooting I have been struggling with my emotions. Normally, I try not to write publicly when rage hits – it so often leads to words I regret. But, days later, I am still raging and need an outlet. Writing is so often that for me. And, as Audra Lorde reminds us, anger often needs to be voiced and has a particular power and transformational energy. As Tuck and Yang remind me, sometimes we need to be more impatient with each other to ensure decolonization happens.
What enrages me is the deaths that are silenced, the violence and murder that becomes normalized in our society. Where are the eulogies for the children bombed by Israel in Gaza (more than 50 in the last ‘war but weeks ago’)? Where are the TV specials for the Black sons murdered by police in Chicago? How about the hundreds of Indigenous daughters in Canada, many who are still missing? What makes these 26 lives so special?
Some argue it was the suddenness and viciousness of it. Having your child’s school bombed by a US drone is no less sudden or vicious, especially when the US utilizes tactics that are widely seen as war crimes, such as ‘double tapping‘ first responders. Hundreds of children have died from sudden, vicious drone strikes in the past year.
Some argue that it was so unexpected. When thousands die from gun violence in the US every year – is it really unexpected? When the government breeds a culture of violence, honours murder, and justifies violence for the continuance of ‘peace’, is it really all that unexpected?
Some argue that is was because it was innocent children. As I said, children have been the targets of US drone and Israeli bombs – where is the sobbing? More than that, every life is precious and no life deserves to be so brutally taken. The missing and murdered Indigenous women had families, they were someone’s daughter. Trayvon Martin was someone’s son. The list goes on and on. Children brutally murdered without a sound.
The speaker was undoubtedly applauded for being so liberal, so caring about social justice. For speaking the names of the victims rather than the killer. And that’s the other tragedy, the other act of violence. That in speaking our privileged sense of social justice, we actually silence, erase and speak over justice for most. We normalize and accept their deaths in silence, in the speaking of particular deaths we erase the value of others. These school shootings are unacceptable and raise cries for gun control and mental health treatment, while other deaths don’t even merit a mention. Where is the justice in this?
The issue is complex, I don’t deny that – there are many aspects. This is but one – but it’s the one that has been on my mind and in need of release. This is what creates the rage that swirls and complicates my sadness.
As a parent, I can’t even fathom losing a child. The only word I can think of when I hear news like this is ‘devastating’. It would bring my world crumbling down. Just like it did to thousands of parents who have had their children brutally taken from them, not just the parents in Newtown.