Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Tragedies won't stop if we hide from issue

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If you’ve come to the sports section seeking safe haven from the unimaginable atrocity that struck in Newtown, Conn., on Friday, you won’t find it here.

NBC's Bob Costas took to the air two weeks ago to speak out against guns during the Sunday Night Football halftime show.  FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
FILE/ASSOCIATED PRESS
NBC's Bob Costas took to the air two weeks ago to speak out against guns during the Sunday Night Football halftime show.

There is no safe haven from it.

The horror of what took place in the classrooms and hallways of Sandy Hook Elementary School haunts us all. As the reality of what took place and the worst fears of what happened to those poor children and their teachers sunk in, it was paralyzing. Immediately my mind went straight into my own daughter’s second-grade classroom. It was reflex parental reaction impossible to shut down – as were the sobs that came with it.

Some called it “unspeakable,” and in a way it is. Every time I try to speak about it with my wife or friends, the tears start welling anew. The President of the United States couldn’t speak about it without getting uncharacteristically emotional.

But we must speak of it. We have to no matter how much it hurts. We owe it to the families suffering in Newtown. We owe it to those precious little innocents who were slaughtered by evil and our own inaction.

The lines we failed to draw at Columbine or Blacksburg or Aurora or countless other senseless mass killings must be drawn now. We’ve become numbed by the regularity of the violence, as if it was just another natural disaster that we eventually dismiss for its unavoidable randomness.

And heaven forbid you talk about it. The gun lobby is conditioned to mobilize at the first report of another tragedy and work to shut off any constructive dialogue before it starts.

“Now’s not the time” and “too soon” are thrown around on cable news shows and social media as though there is some kind of acceptable timetable for when it’s appropriate to get angry about these atrocities and demand solutions.

“We aren’t shocked anymore when children are killed,” wrote notable liberal blogger Heather Parton. “It’s become a normal part of American life. The taboo has shifted from horror at the shootings to horror at talking about shooting. This is called ‘politicizing tragedy’ as if these mass murders are an act of nature rather than an act of human evil or madness (or both) enabled by easy access to the tools of mass murder.”

This automatic shutdown mechanism was on display just two weeks ago when respected sports commentator Bob Costas was criticized for bringing up the subject during his halftime segment on Sunday Night Football. After most of the NFL media had gone the whole day trying to move on with business as usual in the wake of the murder-suicide by Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, Costas got reamed for shedding a controversial light upon gun violence.

“In the aftermath of the nearly unfathomable events in Kansas City, that most mindless of sports clichés was heard yet again – something like this really puts it all in perspective,” Costas said. “Well if so, that sort of perspective has a very short shelf life since we will inevitably hear about the perspective we have supposedly again regained the next time ugly reality intrudes upon our games. Please, those who need tragedies to continually recalibrate their sense of proportion about sports would seem to have little hope of ever truly achieving perspective.”

The critics screaming that there is no place in sports for this debate miss the point. The place for this debate is everywhere and everyone has a right to have their voice heard.

It was sports – the most common place for focused mass gatherings outside of church and theaters – where the wounded psyche of Americans was most on display again after Friday’s tragedy. There were moments of silence before every NBA game. Social media was rife with athletes expressing all manner of sympathy along the theme of LeBron James’ “I’m sick.” Oklahoma Thunder star Kevin Durant scribbled “Newtown, CT” on top of his sneakers. The entire Georgia Southern football team wore decals on the back of their helmets with the initials “SH” honoring Sandy Hook.

And ESPN radio host Scott Van Pelt stuck his neck out in Costas fashion.

“I beg of you, don’t make this the day you’re going to defend your turf about your opinion,” Van Pelt said.

He added, “Children don’t die in an elementary school if a 20-year-old who’s predisposed to do something awful like this doesn’t have an assault rifle in his hand. I don’t think that’s my opinion. I’m pretty sure that’s a fact.”

Point is, we have to discuss this in sports sections, news sections, water coolers, dinner tables, hospitals and legislative houses. Simply gathering around the families of the victims with our condolences, prayers and aid isn’t enough.

The answers aren’t simple and I don’t know what they are. But we need to have conversations about school safety protocols, mental health treatment and support and reasonable restrictions on guns meant to inflict carnage. We need to defend our innocent children and not our turf.

Because the horror that was inflicted upon those poor kids, teachers and their families should not be the price of freedom. We should all be haunted by this until we embrace solutions instead of bracing ourselves for the next unspeakable act of evil that’s sure to come.

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Rob Pavey
552
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Rob Pavey 12/16/12 - 11:25 am
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sad as it sounds, the best defense is a good offense....

If you have any doubts, take a look at the security guards at Heathrow or Rome's DaVinci airport. A mentally ill bad guy wouldn't even make it to the front door.

CobaltGeorge
177081
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CobaltGeorge 12/16/12 - 11:36 am
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Bantana

I have to say that is one of your better posted common sense comments.

harley_52
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 11:40 am
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You Aren't Going To...

...arm every teacher, or every principal, in every school. It's another impractical notion. Every teacher, or every principal, in every school isn't capable (or willing) to be armed. Heck, two thirds (at least) of them are lefties who think all guns should be banned.

There are a number of possibilities....one way would be to solicit volunteers. Another would be to hire retired cops, or retired military personnel. Another would be to get a couple of teachers from each school, train them, pay them a little extra, and let them carry concealed weapons. There are lots of possibilities.

This should NOT be a federal issue. Not even a state issue. Local communities and local schools should come up with their own solutions. Nor should there be huge spending programs involved.

It is irresponsible for any school board, or any school principal, to allow this sort of situation to develop in their schools ever again.

myfather15
57307
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myfather15 12/16/12 - 11:41 am
6
1
Also........

Less than a week after the Kansas City Chiefs linebacker killed his girlfriend and himself, a Dallas Cowboys player decided to get drunk and drive down the road. This ended in the tragic death of his teammate who was riding with him. I didn't see Bob Costas on TV advocating more regulation on alcohol and vehicles. Where is the outrage? So, this man used alcohol and a motor vehicle to kill another human being, and not one word from anyone about how we can reduce these incidents? Nobody wants to talk about making it more difficult to obtain alcohol or motor vehicles?

No, you won't hear a word from the left on this. Not only will you NOT hear from them, they will continue to lead the charge to legalize all narcotics, so that more people can get high or drunk and drive. This makes no sense at all, does it? They want to ban us from having firearms (Personal protection) but legalize narcotics (dangerous drugs). When people get high on STRONGER narcotics (meaning more than just marijuana) they tend to commit criminal acts, often times violent criminal acts. So they want to increase this, while decreasing our ability to protect ourselves from these people. Man, is the lefts mindset completely screwed up!!

blues550
380
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blues550 12/16/12 - 11:44 am
0
1
Missed The Barn
Unpublished

Stick to sports because you have failed here, you missed the entire barn.

This issue is mental health, lack of respect for himan life and personal responsibility. It has nothing to do with guns, firearms, stones, cars or any other weapon some whack job decides to use.

Nice try Bobby Junior

myfather15
57307
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myfather15 12/16/12 - 11:53 am
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I just don't understand the

I just don't understand the mindset of those who want to disarm a law abiding public. Do they not possess the slightest bit of common sense? Do you not realize that if he didn't have a firearm, he could produce mass casualties with ammonium nitrate (simple fertilizer) and diesel fuel? Those are VERY easy to obtain. Also, what would happen if he decided to run through the playground in a truck? Running over every child he could. Mad men will always find a way to inflict harm upon innocent victims. It's soooo very sad but true. The only reason I can see in disarming the public is to ensure the public can't defend themselves, and why would anyone not want the public to be able to defend themselves?

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 12:13 pm
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"A mentally ill bad guy....

....wouldn't even make it to the front door."

And that is, of course, what we should want, right? When it's all said and done we should ask ourselves "what will work," not "what would be nice?"

Sadly, we have the Scott Michauxs of the world and lots of folks with the same misguided notions about the problem in Congress and elsewhere who place their anti-gun agenda in front of public safety.

Eventually, we WILL do what " Heathrow or Rome's DaVinci airport" do to protect their patrons. The only real question is how many more helpless, innocent people will die while we're wasting time with the theoretical and the impractical.

itsanotherday1
48420
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itsanotherday1 12/16/12 - 12:18 pm
9
1
High five to Rob Pavey. It is

High five to Rob Pavey. It is time we discussed the issues logically and not emotionally. Of course the knee jerk reaction is to focus on the gun and not the killer.

FACT: I have a semiautomatic shotgun for bird hunting that I could modify with a hacksaw in whatever time it takes to saw the barrel off. That, and a pocket full of buckshot would give me something far more lethal to a larger number of people gathered in one place than this guy had with a so called "assault" rifle.
Quit the dadgum emotional rhetoric about "assault" rifles and lets talk about how this nut got to be a nut. No, you libs don't want to do that because it would point the finger right at your buddies in the entertainment world, along with "if it feels good do it" hippie culture from the 60's.

KSL
144768
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KSL 12/16/12 - 12:31 pm
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Itsanother

You nailed it! Harley, too.

itsanotherday1
48420
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itsanotherday1 12/16/12 - 12:40 pm
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Just for illustration

If this nut had not been able to acquire a gun, what would have stopped him from walking in there with a five gallon bucket of gasoline and lighting the whole place up?

Now, do you want to discuss gasoline or what made him do it?

Scott Michaux
186
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Scott Michaux 12/16/12 - 12:53 pm
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Sigh

Sigh

CobaltGeorge
177081
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CobaltGeorge 12/16/12 - 12:54 pm
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As A Member

I just can't help posting today's letter. Has an interesting point.

"Things Are Not What They Seem…"

By Tim Schmidt
USCCA Founder

Things are not always what they seem, and sometimes even the things we are most sure of aren’t as simple as we want them to be. Let me show you what I mean…

A man and his son are in a car accident. The father dies and the son is rushed to the emergency room. Once the son arrives at the hospital, the attending doctor shouts out, “This is my son!” How is this possible?

Maybe you’ve heard this little riddle before, but if you haven’t, the answer is simple: The doctor is the son’s mother. But most people don’t even consider that option when asked to solve this riddle, and I would bet that most of you reading this found yourself a bit stumped as well.

“So, what’s your point, Tim?” Fair question. My point is simple yet very important for anyone and everyone who exercises their right to bear arms: Things are often times not what they appear to be, and this is especially true in the complicated world of personal defense.

Just to be clear: As far as I’m concerned, the 2nd Amendment is a simple and unshakeable right that I will stand for and defend for the rest of my life. I know you share the same conviction. What isn’t as simple as that fundamental right is the enormous mountain of different (and often times complicated) local, state and federal laws that accompany our right to keep and bear arms.

I have heard countless stories of good people who unintentionally overstep the law related to firearms and pay a huge personal price. And while things like legal battles and court dates are not always avoidable after a justified self defense shooting, there are many avoidable pitfalls that people find themselves trapped in simply because they didn’t know they were there.

Part of the vision of the USCCA is to help responsibly armed Americans avoid these pitfalls by providing excellent resources, education and insurance to anyone who takes their rights and responsibility seriously. That is part of why we invest valuable time and resources in this free report each week. We want to serve you and make your personal preparation as successful as possible.

There is far more to being prepared and ready for personal defense than simply owning a gun. I am always sobered and reminded of how crucial my own education and preparedness is when I read stories like the one by John Caile that we’ve published in this week’s report. My hope is that stories like this one will serve you as you continue your own journey of preparation and education.
Take care and stay safe,

Tim Schmidt
Publisher - Concealed Carry Report
USCCA Founder

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 01:05 pm
5
2
"Sigh"

Indeed.

OpenCurtain
10049
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OpenCurtain 12/16/12 - 02:00 pm
4
1
Sorry to play Monday Morning Quarterback on a Sunday

But one thing that can be done as a preventive measure.
Start designing new schools to protect against this problem.

The Open Campus Designs Ideas should have been stopped the day after Columbine. Many Schools here in A-RC you walk in and have a clear shot (sorry to express it that way) of every classroom door.

What is so hard about designing student/teaching areas to have a controlled access? Say double door LOCKED Hallway door that opens out ok, but not in without access controls. Have the initial Access point require the visitor to approach a bullet proof drive up bank teller window to speak with a security person or Admin receptionist, for even access to the Admin area.

Classrooms with locking Steel doors and a 180 degree peek hole? Bathrooms located at the rear of each Classroom. Steel interconnecting classroom double doors (shared room hotels style) all with one sided dead bolt locks on them.

Is this right the solution, likely not. But it is food for future thought.

burninater
9943
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burninater 12/16/12 - 02:30 pm
2
6
Excellent editorial, Mr.

Excellent editorial, Mr. Michaux. We can only change our own hearts, and that choice to change comes as a result of how we view and think about the world around us.

You may sigh when reading some of these comments, but it is not up to us to change what is in the hearts of others. We can only begin by presenting an alternate viewpoint, and presenting it with forthright passion. You've done this well, and I have zero doubt that your piece will trigger the type of self-examinations in many of your readers that leads to changes of heart.

Don't let those who disagree with your hopes for a better world discourage you from brave positions like you take in this column.

burninater
9943
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burninater 12/16/12 - 02:53 pm
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5
OC, my thoughts on your 2PM

OC, my thoughts on your 2PM post.

Costs, often times, are the ultimate leveler of opposing ideology. As an example, even our hyperpolarized Federal gov't is creeping closer and closer to serious discussions about our safety net programs, and this discussion is being forced by the unavoidable fact of costs. We haven't come to a solution, but the issue has become the backdrop for virtually all of our ongoing budget considerations. At the core of this issue is this question: at what point does a societal choice become cost-prohibitive, increasing the consensus that it is not a wise choice to make?

Your post proposes a solution of essentially redesigning our public places to accommodate the pervasive presence of firearms in America. This raises the spectre that not only will we have to bear the unbearable emotional cost of tragedies like this mass shooting in the future, but that we will have to fundamentally redesign our public spaces as a preventive measure. This, I propose to you, is going to be the ideologic leveler. If guns become so pervasive that everyone is forced to redesign their very surroundings to accomodate them, we will hit the costs wall where even those who support gun rights will begin saying "enough".

Gun enthusiasts and groups like the NRA would be well-advised to get ahead of the problem, and start devising their own control proposals and initiatives to prevent reaching this point.

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 02:56 pm
4
2
Sigh....

....now can I be considered one who "hopes for a better world?"

Or is that just those with an anti-gun agenda?

burninater
9943
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burninater 12/16/12 - 03:08 pm
2
5
Harley, you do recognize that

Harley, you do recognize that nowhere in Mr. Michaux' piece, nor in my comment, is there an "anti-gun agenda"?

My reference to "hopes for a better world" refers to his, and Costas', exceptionally clear idea that we should stop pretending there isn't something to talk about. And we shouldn't be intimidated by anyone who tries to shut down debate by claiming that simply talking about it is an "anti-gun agenda".

harley_52
26114
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harley_52 12/16/12 - 03:26 pm
4
3
"Anti-Gun Agenda"

...no, you refrain from using those exact words, because you seek to disguise your message. Much like using the term "investment" to disguise the desire to "tax and spend."

I don't care what words you use, but I think it would be helpful to address the problem honestly and I think it is ludicrous (but not surprising) that you characterize those who don't agree with you (or Mr. Michaux) as "disagree(ing) with hopes for a better world."

Riverman1
94312
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Riverman1 12/16/12 - 03:26 pm
6
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The 911 attack that resulted

The 911 attack that resulted in almost 3,000 deaths was done by those wielding box cutters.

KSL
144768
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KSL 12/16/12 - 03:33 pm
4
2
The problem us a societal one

The problem us a societal one not a gun one.

burninater
9943
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burninater 12/16/12 - 03:44 pm
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4
Ah, Harley, the "disguised message".

Ah, Harley, the "disguised message". Since you already know what my words mean before they are even spoken, a dialogue with you is completely pointless.

And Riverman, PLEASE. The attack that resulted in almost 3,000 deaths was done by those wielding passenger airplanes entirely loaded with fuel. You know, and I know, that 8 jihadis with box cutters entering the lobby of the World Trade Center that morning WITHOUT passenger airplanes entirely loaded with fuel would have maybe killed a handful of people before being wrestled to the ground.

harley_52
26114
Points
harley_52 12/16/12 - 03:44 pm
5
2
I Think It's A....

...psychological problem more than a societal problem. Fortunately, a tiny minority of society commits these types of horrific crimes. If it were truly a societal problem, I think it would be much more widespread.

Which is why I think the focus on violent movies, TV, video games, comic books, or the like is probably misplaced. Not that I don't think there MIGHT be some connection, but that millions of people see all these things and it apparently doesn't inspire them to do these sorts of things.

Crazy people do crazy things. They always have and always will. Our task, as a society, is to deal with it as best we can.

And yes....I really do want a better world too.

specsta
7181
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specsta 12/16/12 - 03:57 pm
3
8
We Closed Our Eyes

Violence is steeped into every facet of US culture. This country was founded on violence - from the Revolutionary War to the mass murders of Native Americans to slavery to the propagation of nukes and the continued drumbeat for war as a means of retaliating to any perceived threat.

This country treats its most defenseless citizens like trash, incarcerating millions of Americans for non-violent offenses, tossing aside the poor, and blaming the homeless for their plight. We think a fist-fight is a quick, easy answer and that guns in the home offer "protection". We are mean and cruel to anyone that does not fit the American ideal of a worthy life.

So, when an all-American white mother in a wealthy community stockpiles a semi-automatic assault rifle, plenty of ammo and a couple of handguns, and has trained her child in how to use them, America does not think it to be strange. It is considered normal to have a means of producing violent death, many times over, inside one's home. After all, it makes us free - RIGHT???

The attitude of many Americans concerning violence is one step removed from Middle-Ages barbarism. It's no big deal. When we hear about gang wars or inner city shoot-outs, who cares, right? When little ethnic kids in Chicago or LA are cut down by drive-by bullets, who cares, right? But when unimaginable violence visits a wealthy suburb of safety, the whole country falls apart. Well, maybe if we had CARED about those other little children, the ones that have been dying for decades, tragedies like this wouldn't happen.

There is no easy solution. But to continue down the path of embracing and accepting violence in this country is a certain death sentence to all of our humanity.

ymnbde
10752
Points
ymnbde 12/16/12 - 03:52 pm
1
3
sigh, offensively

this was a sophomoric, clumsily written article. However, even so, Mr Michaux and Bob Costas could certainly fix the world, if people would just listen! We must "speak of it," because it happened due to "OUR OWN INACTION!" We must draw lines. Yes, we must. Lines must be drawn. And everyone's opinion must be heard, but the opinion's "TURF MUST NOT BE DEFENDED."
My goodness.

Riverman1
94312
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Riverman1 12/16/12 - 03:52 pm
6
0
Burn said, "You know, and I

Burn said, "You know, and I know, that 8 jihadis with box cutters entering the lobby of the World Trade Center that morning WITHOUT passenger airplanes entirely loaded with fuel would have maybe killed a handful of people before being wrestled to the ground."

Yeah, because the armed guards would have shot them dead.

harley_52
26114
Points
harley_52 12/16/12 - 03:58 pm
3
2
"And we shouldn't be intimidated...

...by anyone who tries to shut down debate by claiming that simply talking about it is an "anti-gun agenda"."

Intimidated? Trying to "shut down debate?"

Surely you jest.

I've been discussing and seeking thoughtful, civil discussion most of the day. And never once did I claim those who disagreed with me also disagreed with my "hopes for a better world."

What is your solution, burninater? Specifically.....

Bizkit
35758
Points
Bizkit 12/16/12 - 04:52 pm
3
0
Alcohol kills more people

Alcohol kills more people than guns and we all know how Prohibition worked. It's the same scenario-we have a long history of guns, even protected by the constitution, so getting rid of guns or even controlling them is about as likely as regulating our immigration problem or trying prohibition again. Y'all are looking at peripherals think about the root of the problem.

seenitB4
98644
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seenitB4 12/16/12 - 05:08 pm
3
1
Burn please

8 box cutters did take over the jets loaded with fuel that crashed into the buildings that killed almost 3000 people...NOT GUNS...box cutters.....we need to check ALL boxcutters & maybe even ban them...

Bizkit
35758
Points
Bizkit 12/16/12 - 05:24 pm
5
1
Burn we are homo sapiens and

Burn we are homo sapiens and violent like chimps not passive like bonobos. You want to get rid of human violence you have to get rid of all humans-its our nature-and studies indicate a genetic component. There are about a zillion ways to kill people-as history denotes.

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