To my absolute disgust, the magazine that came into my mailbox on Dec. 18 had on its cover a bunch of actors with assault rifles. The cover article was about the new movie, "Zero Dark Thirty," a new movie that glorifies or depicts — you pick the right word — violence. Here, violence in the killing of Osama bin Laden.
I am sure the producers hope this movie rakes in the profits, and Newsweek helped them along in its own quest for profit.
I wrote Newsweek, canceling my subscription and accusing them of being idiots and being insensitive. No wonder this publication will now be entirely digital — on its way to oblivion, in my view.
This magazine with the assault weapons on its cover, dated Dec. 24, Christmas Eve, did contain some photographs pertaining to the mass murder, but putting actors with assault weapons on the cover for its Christmas Eve issue is sickening. Is this a symptom of a sick society?
After throwing the magazine into the trash, I then looked forward to the NRA press conference a week after the shooting — almost to the hour of the massacre, at 10:30 Friday morning, Dec. 21, right after the church bells rang at 9:30 a.m. and when even the president observed a moment of silence.
The NRA had promised to have some concrete proposals to add to the debate of how we can prevent future mass murders.
Joe Scarborough, a former member of Congress, who hosts his show "Morning Joe," had tried all week long to get on his show, before this press conference, one of his Republican colleagues in Congress to share his or her thoughts on Newtown and the gun restriction debate (a much better term than "control"). Not one of his Republican friends would accept his invitation.
One member of Congress even said to Scarborough that he had to wait to hear what the NRA said first before he would appear. Is this a symptom of a sick Congress?
When Friday morning rolled around, Wayne Lapierre, the NRA leader and spokesman, held his press conference. His proposal? Putting more guns into our schools! Arming teachers and principals, or having a cop or NRA member in school to protect the kids.
That did not work at Columbine. That did not work at Virginia Tech.
Is the NRA's solution of more guns a symptom of a sick society? Is our obsession with guns and our paranoia both symptoms of some sort of cultural illness?
By the way, most members of the NRA favor some restrictions on deadly semiautomatic weapons.
Many of the mass murderers in recent years, if not all, were obsessed with violent video games. Are those games and violent movies and television shows symptoms of a sick society?
Wayne Lapierre then appeared on "Meet the Press" on Dec. 23. He blamed mentally ill people, movies and video games (using examples from decades ago). He said the assault weapons ban, which President George W. Bush let expire, had no effect on the number of mass murders (it certainly did in Australia!).
Lapierre would not even concede that limiting gun magazines to something less than a drum of 100 bullets or a magazine of 30 bullets might save one life. It was a sick analysis of our society, totally wrapped up in an bizarre ideology surrounding the Second Amendment.
Do you think this intransigence by the NRA really has to do with the Second Amendment? We already have 300 million guns in our society. Eleven out of the last 20 largest mass murders in the world in the past 50 years have happened in America. Can Wayne Lapierre seriously see no connection between the number of guns — and the number of assault weapons in particular — to such statistics?
I think the Second Amendment is a smokescreen for something else: money.
The company that manufactures the Bushmaster rifle, the assault weapon used in Newtown, had $700 million in sales last year and made $200 million in profit.
I am sure Wayne Lapierre's salary is very large, and no doubt he is thankful for the gun companies, which pour tons of money from their large profits into the NRA's coffers. And the NRA in turn lines the pockets of members of Congress.
These political contributions are in truth bribes, bribes to keep gun restriction laws off the books. Less guns, less profits!
So, this debate about guns, which we will be watching in the upcoming weeks, is really about money, not the Second Amendment. No one is saying you cannot have guns around your house, the issue is what kinds of guns. The Founding Fathers had flintlocks in mind. The NRA has something else in mind — and the larger the magazines, the more bullets will be sold, and more bullets and guns sold mean greater the profits.
There is one solution to the gun restriction debate in which we all can play a part. Only vote for those political candidates who take no bribes from the NRA, and who support sane gun restrictions (e.g., limiting magazines to what is needed to take down a deer, three or four bullets, and not what is needed to commit mass murder).
It is easy to dismiss our society as sick in light of recent events, and in light of the quality of our mass media, the lack of courage of our politicians to speak out, and the insensitive views of the NRA. But when you read of the accounts of incredible courage and self-sacrifice by the principal, the school psychologist and the teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary School, you get a truer picture of the health of America — an America filled with heroic people.
So, don't let a sick mass media industry, or the leaders of the NRA, or bought-and-sold politicians, or the actions of evil people color your picture of America. Think of those who died trying to save the "holy innocents" in Newtown, and let that be the America you cherish.
— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune religion columnist