Scott Michaux

Sports columnist for The Augusta Chronicle. | ScottMichaux.com

Tragedies won't stop if we hide from issue

  • Follow Scott Michaux

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.

Comments (83) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 12/16/12 - 06:25 pm
1
0
One rape and assualt lawsuit changed the
Unpublished

entire motel/hotel security issue. Remember Connie Francis. Door locks were changed and later access through a central entrance. Card keys and no entrance lobbies after dark for some companies. Private industry will react to its profit margin even it cares less about human lives. Government does not have a "bottom line" and therefore cannot be held financially accountable by its citizens. Government does not care about human life as clearly shown by its war policies and abortion clinics.

Wait for the lawsuits by the parents of CT for wrongful deaths. Don't hold your breath. Those children were left in the care of the CT school system that failed to protect their innocent lives.

Money is more important than human lives. Look around. Look at the number of administrators in each school, but no funds for a security officer at the central door. We could easily pay for one armed security guard at each school with the salary of one "career path coach". Which is more important.

In the days ahead you will see. Outcry, talk, talk, talk. Then on with our lives.

Several proven diagnostic models used in Fortune 500 companies will work in this case and every disaster. "Root Cause Analysis" and its associated practices will separate "individuals from actions" so that actions can be looked at objectively. Facts separated from emotion. Positive results. Of course, this and all meaningful solutions require the TRUTH.

soapy_725
43678
Points
soapy_725 12/16/12 - 06:38 pm
1
0
Desensitized to innocent death.....
Unpublished

we need look no further than federal funded abortions. We as a Christian Nation passed a law that has allowed the murder of millions of innocent babies. Forty years of slaughter. No guns involved. Neat, sanitary, clinical murder. Human life has no value in the USA. The "god of personal convenience" has declared it so. The innocent lives in CT were an "inconvenience" to the evil murderer. He thought nothing of killing them because they had no value to him. They were merely a portion of his reality show.

The rule "thou shalt do no murder" was removed for this nation and replaced with a " murder by elimination of an unwanted life". Sort of like self defense.

If there is no Creator God. If their is no imperative of the sanctity of human life. Then the actions in CT are no more than the cultural view of innocents as replaceable commodities.

Jake
32552
Points
Jake 12/16/12 - 06:54 pm
4
3
Misguided

"Misguided", a word thrown around by those whose opinions they happen to not like. I will tell you what I think is "misguided" is the reality that weapons, available to the general public, have advanced to the stage of being able to fire a large amount of rounds in a short period of time. Seems to be the weapon of choice for the mass killers, does it not? Other than the military or police, these should not be available to the general public. This is not taking guns away from anyone but it is insuring that the general public does not have access to immense fire power which they don't need anyway.

harley_52
23380
Points
harley_52 12/16/12 - 07:04 pm
4
3
"Other than the military or police...

....these should not be available to the general public. This is not taking guns away from anyone but it is insuring that the general public does not have access to immense fire power which they don't need anyway."

Sorry Jake....they're legal. You apparently don't think they should be, but they are.

Who gets to decide what people "need" anyway? You, or legislators?

Speaking of what people "need," who decides? What if they (or we) simply "want" large capacity magazines because we enjoy owning and using them for recreation? Should you (or others) who don't enjoy such pursuits get to decide whether we can do that or not?

Who "needs" a car that will go 100 mph? Who "needs" a 60 inch flat screen TV? Who "needs" three scoops of ice cream?

csrareader
1287
Points
csrareader 12/16/12 - 07:43 pm
4
3
Over 3500 babies were aborted

Over 3500 babies were aborted on the same day as the elementary school massacre. Society no longer values human life.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/16/12 - 08:19 pm
3
0
Question IF the Media, Visual Materials and Movies

have no affect on viewers.

Why is it I see 1000's product placement in movies, newspapers, and on TV every week?

In fact why do advertisers waste $172+ BILLION ($$$,$$$,$$$,$$$.00) every year to build or keep brand recognition in our minds to buy their products?

In short
Hollywood and the media are not innocent of polluting minds.
If it is a mentally ill mind looking for a answer, we have seen the results twice now mimicking what they have seen.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 12/16/12 - 08:41 pm
3
1
@Burninator

Since you claim you aren't hiding anything, then please explain in detail what exactly you want to "Talk" about? What would you like to discuss, specifically? Yes, I do believe when people say we should "discuss" firarms in this Country, they mean more regulations on firearms.

Just today, Dick Durbin was on Fox News saying we need to "Discuss Safety", including "School Safety" but at least he had the guts to go on and admit that a discussion about more gun control would be part of that. Libs like you want the exact same thing but don't want to admit it because you realize most people in the world don't want it. Why don't liberals just get some guts and come out to say EXACTLY what they want? Because their true agenda would not garner 1/3 of the vote in this Country. So they just lie to cover their true agenda. Such as, instead of coming out and saying "I want to ban all assault rifles", they instead say "We need to have a discussion about weapons".

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 12/16/12 - 09:02 pm
1
0
harley_52 - said

Who "needs" three scoops of ice cream?

I do ... but they are little in comparison to me.
;-)

Bantana
2071
Points
Bantana 12/16/12 - 09:28 pm
3
3
itsanotherday

itsanotherday...wrote," 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."

Well I can tell you that those of my generation that went through basic and later became hippies thoroughly enjoyed the more colorful second part of our marine chant so spiritedly exhorted on the parade grounds of Paris Island, "this is my rifle, this is my gun. One is for fighting and one is for fun". Hippies were among some of the most influential phenomena in the 60's and I can assure you we knew what to do with our "gun". Many of those Hippies went on to become very productive citizens, academics, chemists, product innovators, farmers, scientists, engineers, teachers, clerics, parents and caregivers benefiting every facet of our economy/society. The rest wandered off into the desert or to the seaside enclaves of northern california never again to bother another living soul. This country would be so boring and regressive if we had never had the Hippies. And without Hippies the VietNam conflict would certainly have claimed many, many more than the 52,000 American lives we lost forever in that immoral police action.(no disrespect meant to my brothers, the ground pounders, squids and airmen who were in theater.) I won't put the blame for what happend in Sandy Hook on the easy availability the AR15 Bushmaster,if you don't blame the passive,if permissive, lifestyles of a bunch of young people from 45 years ago. And let's work to find a reasonable way to make these assaults on america's innocents a thing of the past.

myfather15
55706
Points
myfather15 12/16/12 - 09:19 pm
2
1
Another aspect many people

Another aspect many people don't seem to consider is how much safer we are as a Country with citizens having firearms.

Now, I realize as I'm typing this that many will laugh at this because they believe the USA military can't be defeated. But, their are Countries out here forming coalitions against America. Countries such as N. Korea, China, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Russia and many others are forming alliances to negate America's influence as a super power in the world.

But see, something they must understand before EVER thinking of bringing the fight here, is our citizens. Even if they could somehow over take our military, they would run into a much larger army of armed citizens ready to give their lives to fight. If you take the registered hunters from W.Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia, Tennessee, Missouri, and Virginia, they would form the largest military in the World. Thats just 7 States and again, they would make up the world's largest military in personel numbers.

This is something any Country MUST take into consideration when EVER thinking of coming against us. The militia is the reason we won the Revolutionary War. The organized Brittish Army had never faced such a group of individuals. A group that didn't just stand accross a field and let them shoot at them. It seems ridiculous but I promise you, it isn't. Armed citizens, in the numbers we have them, are in themselves a massive Army, capable of defending this Country. It's just another reason we have felt safe for so long. Even our enemy knew this when they stated "You can't defeat a Country like America with force, you must defeat them from the inside." The enemy said this a long time ago, and they were right.......unless you disarm them.

Jake
32552
Points
Jake 12/16/12 - 09:30 pm
2
1
Legality

Right now massive fire power is legal, as is abortion. I, for one, think that massive fire power should be illegal and I hope that one day that it will be. One persons "recreation?" is another persons preferred method of death for innocent people. Who gets off on firing a whole bunch of ammo anyway? What is so great about that? Childish at best.

itsanotherday1
43258
Points
itsanotherday1 12/16/12 - 09:43 pm
2
0
Jake

Any semiautomatic shotgun for hunting can quickly be turned into a killing tool far more lethal in close quarters with a lot of people than anything the average citizen can buy legally.

harley_52
23380
Points
harley_52 12/16/12 - 10:02 pm
1
1
Well, Jake...

We've come to the point where you compare gun ownership to abortion, ask who "gets off" firing ammo, and call recreational shooting "childish."

Now seems like a perfect time for me to go do something else.

burninater
9583
Points
burninater 12/16/12 - 10:28 pm
0
1
Since you claim you aren't

Since you claim you aren't hiding anything, then please explain in detail what exactly you want to "Talk" about? What would you like to discuss, specifically? Yes, I do believe when people say we should "discuss" firarms in this Country, they mean more regulations on firearms.
-------
Of course I'm talking about more regulations. Does that mean I have an"antigun agenda"? NO. Is requiring people to have licenses and insurance an anti-car agenda? NO. Is a legal drinking age an anti-alcohol agenda? NO. Nor is crafting intelligent regulation of guns an antigun agenda, as much as some may try to throw that around to prevent any debate of the subject whatsoever.

Many guns rights advocates were throwing Switzerland around as a great model for pervasive gun ownership with little to no gun violence. Their regulation is more extreme than I would propose,but it is a great example of an armed population with strict regulation.

Here are some of the things I would propose:

Mag-locks keyed to the registered owner. EVERY GUN.

Security experts determine a reasonable quantity of ammo in the home adequate for self defense. Larger amounts of that can be acquired at dedicated firing ranges, for recreational use onsite, but not to leave that site.

These mass killings are disproportionately young men. Let young men own hunting rifles. Put a minimum age, maybe 26, on assault rifles and handguns. Give that human brain Biz was talking about a few years to mellow out.

No more sales of guns by unregistered merchants. NONE. And mandatory jail for any merchant who can be shown to have sold a gun knowingly to someone not legally qualified to posess a gun.

These probably sound extreme, but I GUARANTEE that if the situation OC discussed of needing to armor public buildings wholesale comes to pass, these might be the mild steps taken.

Gun manufacturers and advocates have an opportunity to craft policy now to prevent future events like this. If they don't take the initiative, it will be taken for them.

itsanotherday1
43258
Points
itsanotherday1 12/16/12 - 11:03 pm
1
0
None of anything you

None of anything you mentioned would have stopped this guy. His mother was the owner of the guns, so he would have access to both the key lock and ammo.

However, I do agree 100% with you about very strictly monitoring and enforcing laws regarding the sale and trade of guns. Too easy for the crooks to get their hands on them.

harley_52
23380
Points
harley_52 12/16/12 - 11:19 pm
3
2
One Thing For Sure....

Whatever gun laws are passed, crooks will always get their hands on them. It's not crooks, but rather law abiding citizens, who will suffer from stricter and stricter gun laws which will not protect society from the crooks.

Gun laws are not the answer. Evil people ignore laws. They are LAWless.

If you want to protect people from crazy people (or crooks) with guns, arm yourselves, or arm the guards who protect the helpless.

It really isn't rocket science, it is not comparable to abortion in any way, one is likely not to "get off" by doing it, and it is most certainly NOT childish. Plus, you can truly want a better world at the same time.

burninater
9583
Points
burninater 12/16/12 - 11:42 pm
1
0
None of anything you

None of anything you mentioned would have stopped this guy. His mother was the owner of the guns, so he would have access to both the key lock and ammo.

-------

Maybe so, maybe not. He wouldn't have had 100's of rounds of ammo, and his mother may have decided to keep the mag ring locked up separately.

You are right, we can't eliminate all risk in this world. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't take steps to minimize risk, while simultaneously taking measures to preserve the rights of those that use deadly technologies in a responsible manner.

Bizkit
31463
Points
Bizkit 12/17/12 - 12:06 am
2
1
So go to all those extremes

So go to all those extremes and (if I were a sick SOB) I would just make pipe bombs, and use those extreme air rifles with .243 bullets, or just use a hatchet and knife. Then again I could also maching a gun too-would just need ammo. Then the list goes on with even more diabolical methods. If you know what your doing all you need is your hands. Actually the more I think of it, I could probably just Google how to use your your hands to wack people-what a sick freakin' world. Still chasin rabbits and peripherals. You had one part right-can we modify the wheels set in motion. Some of this will always be random and chaotic. But I think it is mostly environment and not genetics that is precipitating the increase in violence in our youth since the 90's. Culture and a society gone amuck and our technology is likely adding to the mix. Studies are showing our youth are becoming socially inept and that pornography is altering the male mindset denigrating women into objects rather than people-also increasing experimenting with taboo because now all sexuality is just a preference. Education keeps pushing more technology-which is great if used as a tool but basically the technology is making our youth the tools. Monitoring guns-yeah just like Fast N' Furious huh. YOu don't get it that Genie is outta dah bottle =too big to fail well this is too big to fix. If we can then we can also deport every illegal alien in the US too-because that is about the size of the problem.

Bizkit
31463
Points
Bizkit 12/17/12 - 12:07 am
3
0
Heck even the Dem John Barrow

Heck even the Dem John Barrow held up his Daddy's gun (that he likely had never held before) to make that commercial swearing they'd have to take it from his cold dead hands. Good luck with that solution.

burninater
9583
Points
burninater 12/17/12 - 12:35 am
1
2
Gun laws are not the answer.

Gun laws are not the answer. Evil people ignore laws. They are LAWless.
-----
By that logic, our laws in general are meaningless. Evil people ignore them. What purpose do they serve?

Riverman1
84025
Points
Riverman1 12/17/12 - 08:12 am
4
2
Scott Michaux, who wrote this

Scott Michaux, who wrote this column says, "Sigh" in response to the comments that were courteous and trying to seek solutions up until the "sigh." It contributed absolutely nothing to the conversation and is the equivalent of someone simply using an expletive instead of intelligent debate.

Riverman1
84025
Points
Riverman1 12/17/12 - 08:27 am
3
1
Evil People is Right

Burn said, “By that logic, our laws in general are meaningless. Evil people ignore them. What purpose do they serve?”
I like the “law” that gives us the right to bear arms. The purpose of that is not to allow governments to arrest those with guns. But maybe you are right, the way some local governments ignore THAT law. Evil people is right.

Bizkit
31463
Points
Bizkit 12/17/12 - 10:18 am
1
0
Note all the school mass

Note all the school mass shootings they've stopped since this one in Conn.. The problem isn't guns but a certain pop of youths who see violence as a form of expression. Violence is increasing-how they inflict damage is peripheral. And Burn are laws are meaningless, we have a president who refuses to enforce federal immigration or pot laws and he has ordered the execution of an American citizen without due process. So one guy sits in prison in one state for a pot crime and another individual in another state commits the same crime and walks because of a state law-all the while fed law it's still illegal. Our laws are only capriciously used against some. Justice isn't blind.

harley_52
23380
Points
harley_52 12/17/12 - 11:10 am
2
2
"By that logic, our laws in general are meaningless....

...By that logic, our laws in general are meaningless. Evil people ignore them. What purpose do they serve?"

I'm going to have to ask you to think about this one, burninater.

Do speed limit laws stop speeders? Do jaywalking laws stop jaywalkers? How about shoplifiting laws? Spitting on the sidewalk? Laws against writing bad checks? Yes, I'm saying laws don't STOP crimes. Only in the mind of a liberal does passing a law end a problem. Most people recognize it's not that easy.

Riverman1
84025
Points
Riverman1 12/18/12 - 08:33 am
2
0
Scott misses the whole point.

Scott misses the whole point. It's about our laws that allow mentally ill people to roam unsupervised. It wasn't always this way. I'm sure he could have killed just as many using dynamite.

YeCats
10785
Points
YeCats 12/18/12 - 09:03 am
2
0
Like this?

http://en.mobile.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bath_School_disaster

Its not the weapon, it's the numskull behind the trigger.

soitgoes
786
Points
soitgoes 12/18/12 - 03:05 pm
1
0
repeal the federal do-nothing law

that prohibits guns in schools and allow security guards in schools to carry. At least that way our schools - and kids - will not be the easy, defenseless targets that they currently are.

Back to Top

Top headlines

Many black colleges struggling

Although Paine has struggled with its own failures over the past several years, HBCUs across the nation are dealing with some of the same troubles that are threatening their missions and existence.
Search Augusta jobs