In the scant few days since a lone gunman shot several people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, my TV and my Internet feed have been hemorrhaging the de-damnedest slurry of thin facts, howlingly partisan BS, grasping at straws, straining at gnats and swallowing Camels whole -- probably while they're still lit. Everyone from the President of the United States, eager to ride his own gun-control hobbyhorse, to conservatives desperate to disclaim the killer -- really guys, look at him and ask yourself what is more likely, that this guy is C. Jenner's long-lost soul-sister, or that he was too busy being gnawed at by his own mind to tick the right box on a voter's registration form?
Hey, you know what? It's over; it was over the moment the police took him into custody and now there's nothing but a long, dull police-work slog back through the timeline, figuring out what happened when. "Why" is probably always going to be at least a partial mystery: there is no perfect window into other people's thoughts. Eventually, such facts as are findable will be found; eventually, this criminal will end up in court.
What this isn't -- what no situation like this is -- is a shadow screen for anyone to project their pet causes on. Not "progressives" trying to paint anti-abortion people with this crime (they didn't do it. One individual did), not "conservative" pundits pointing to it as evidence of the chaos spawned when people don't do things as they were always done in some idealized past, not gun-banners or even those of us who think more people ought to get trained and carry sidearms. The reality is you can't stop crazy, not 100%. Never have, never will: given that society operates under a baseline assumption of peace,* the attacker will always have the advantage of surprise and whatever defense there is will be struggling to get ahead. Given the will to do harm, harm will be done; you need look no further than the highly-controlled environment of a prison to see that this is true.
Every person with an applicable agenda to push and a soapbox to declaim from will be trying to use this horror -- but remember the underlying reality: people are dead and one man initiated force to kill them. Nothing will change that. This is not how differences are resolved; it's not how the vast majority of even the most committed foes and supporters of abortion address their conflicts over the issue.
* Yes, it does. Maybe you're in Condition Orange 24/7/365, but most people aren't. And they're not going to be. The majority of people aren't wired up for that.
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