Charlie Brooker writes the worst article on the Sandy Hook massacre
The Newtown shooting makes us feel helpless. We don’t need to be
We? Who are ‘We’? Humanity? British? Columnists? The Brookers? The voyeurs? Who is meant to benefit for this internationalised trauma?
I was a country boy. When I was growing up, there was a shotgun in the house. Dad shot clay pigeons for sport. I fired it once myself, with his assistance. Had to wear ear protectors. When you pull the trigger, a shotgun punches you hard in the shoulder. It almost knocked me over.
We has become I:
Decades later I fired a handgun at a shooting range in Las Vegas. At first I didn’t even want to hold it. It represented a level of fearsome responsibility I didn’t want to bear for even a few minutes.
I then becomes You:
Once in your hand, a gun seems heavier and somehow more real than you anticipated. You face the target (in this case, a fullsize photocopy of Osama bin Laden). Pull the trigger and your hand kicks upwards, the blast 20 times louder than the imaginary one you had been mentally preparing yourself for. Adrenaline sears through you. You tingle. It’s exciting.
And then there are them:
Once you’ve fired a gun, it’s easier to understand people who don’t want to give theirs up.
They are not the we. We are people who don’t own guns or use them at work.
He then talks about his pain:
The last time I’d experienced something similar was in November, looking at pictures of a BBC video editor clutching the body of his son, killed during a rocket attack on Gaza. I mention this backdrop not to make any political point. It was a story that hit me, and hit me hard. The man’s son was still a baby.
No political point becomes:
“What did my son do to die like this?” the man said. “What was his mistake? He is 11 months old. What did he do?”
Nothing. He was an innocent. The people around him, we can’t vouch for. But from over here in the UK it looked like the child was in a warzone, albeit one not as brutal as Rwanda, where tens of thosans of children were murdered with machetes.
There was a photo of the boy when he was alive. Wide brown eyes. Smiling. He looked like my own son.
But he wasn’t.
So much like my own son. It built inside me, a wave of nausea and dread, and I couldn’t stand it. I shut the webpage. There was nothing I could do. I was helpless. It hurt.
Little Brooker remains unharmed. He doesn’t live in Gaza – neither the place nor the webpage:
Now it’s December. Newtown. Twenty-six bodies, and what can you say?
…I simply cannot bear to place myself in the shoes of those parents. To be racing for the school, feeling unreal, light, weightless, powered by gut fear alone. To stand and wait, and wait, and wait. To hear your child is dead.
I don’t have it in me.
You are not the parent of murdered child. Why would you want to pretend to be? Do we hanker for Brooker’s emotional exhibitionism? What does it say about us when tragedy becomes public spectacle? Is Brooker just another nodding head giving us what we want?
The news displays the faces of the children and I have to look away. That feeling, still relatively new to me, becomes overwhelming. The basic parental urge to protect. They are other people’s children. Faces in photographs. Gone now. But still: the urge to protect. And I can’t. I’m helpless. It hurts.
Adam Lanza was someone else’s child. Everyone was once.
Not so long ago when other people wrote words like that I would roll my eyes at their soppy bullshit. Their gauche sentiment. I miss reacting like that. I knew nothing; I was an idiot with nothing at stake. But still. I miss the warmth of that bubble, the cosiness of that protective sneer. It’s cold outside.
Because now he’s a dad, he has more at stake than rolling his eyes and sneering at the telly? He can now watch the telly and feel upset. “As a dad…” he can now understand that a murdered child is painful. Well, you live and learn. He then tells us how we can save the world and the children:
…the best way to improve media coverage of massacres is to prevent massacres.
By fixing rockets on cameras and getting the killer before they attack?
And try as I might, I can’t think of a better way to prevent massacres than reducing the number of guns in circulation.
Now, let’s get guns off the hands of the criminals. If they don’t hand them over, we can send a drone to blow the crap out of them. Obama and Cameron are dads. They’ll understand. Assad’s a dad, too.
Twenty children shot at close range with an assault rifle. You could argue that the choice of weapon is irrelevant; that a truly unhinged individual would still find the means to kill. Maybe that’s true; I don’t know. All I know is that 20 children were shot at close range with an assault rifle, and that only a lunatic nation wouldn’t try everything it could think of to make that less likely to happen again.
Only a lunatic would shoot 20 children.
But can reducing the number of guns be everything Brooker can think of to end massacres? He concludes:
America, don’t be helpless. Look at the faces. Feel how much it hurts. Try to stop it happening again.
Yeah, America. Come on, give it a whirl…