IDEMA: Do we live in a sick society?

Following the horrific slaughter of the "holy innocents" on Dec. 14, I anxiously waited to see how the first weekly news magazine to come to me in the mail, Newsweek, would report the event.
Jan 2, 2013


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


retired DOC

The first reason for having a gun is not deer hunting. It is self protection. Do you really want to have only 3 or 4 rounds in a gun for self protection? The police carry guns with as many as 19 rounds for their protection. I want something like that for my protection. Those of us that have dealt with crooks know that the crooks will have more than 3 or 4 rounds. When will Mr. Idema learn?


Henry is right on, the NRA is bribing our "elected" officials! The media is sensationalizing the situation! As Henry says, its all about the money!
Having one person at the door of a school is not going to stop anyone that is intent on causing mayhem! They would just be the first victim! Unless you implement an "airlock" system and full body scanner for each individual that wants to enter and blast proof door everywhere else you will be vulnerable!
Unless you are suffering from absolute paranoia, the need to protect yourself is statistically insignificant. The vast majority of deaths are from those that are known to the victim! There is very little random gun violence!
No one needs a Bushmaster, M-16, M-4, look alike to "protect" themselves! No one needs a Glock that can use a 33 round clip to "protect" themselves!
I can see it now, one behind the kitchen counter, the other sticking their hand around a hallway corner blasting away at each other until the bullets run out. If you can't hit what you are shooting at, no amount of bullets is going to help. Or the little old lady walking downtown with her "baby" Glock with the 33 round clip sticking out of her purse. Would she need a CCW in that case?
Thank God this country is relatively safe to wander around in. Why do you think so many risk their lives to come here? If you feel it is that dangerous, how can you justify staying here and exposing your family to such wanton violence?
The logic is not there!


The million dollar question to me is this: What changes, had they been made, would have prevented the shootings in Aurora & Sandy Hook?

Smaller magazine capacity? Nope. No "military-style assault rifles"? Nope. At Sandy Hook the AR-15 was in the trunk. The nutcase in Aurora's high capacity magazine jammed so he had to use other guns. If anything that should be an argument FOR high capacity magazines!

I wish everyone was asking one simple question, "What can we do to prevent more of these shootings"? There are lots of answers that would be great starting places, but they don't make headlines like taking on the big, mean NRA does. Really is a shame.

Rogue Male Lion

To the Editor:
I'dema like to take issue with John Fitzpatrick's recent retort to Rev. Idema's Jan. 4 article. I have a sneaky suspicion that Rev. Idema does know what the 2nd Amendment is all about. Based on the complexity of previous columns He has written, I assume the simplistic nature of the wording in the 2nd Amendment isn't flying over his head anytime soon. While writing this, I'm proof reading his article on Jan. 4th to see where (sporting or sporting weapons) come's into play. It doesn't. I have become accustomed to this type of rhetoric from thinkers like Mr. Fitzpatrick. I often notice that strong opinionated people often worry more about winning the argument at hand, rather than thinking of the bi-partisan solutions and victims warranting the arguments origins. As can be seen by Mr. Fitzpatrick's one sentence at the end of his fairly lengthly retort showing sympathy for the recent horrifying event that took place. So in response to asking "would Rev. Idema prefer that all good guys are disarmed"? I would like to take the opportunity to answer in his place by saying, I prefer neither the bad guy nor concealed weapon carrier be part of my free society.The reason I won't go see the movie Zero Dark 30 doesn't really revolve around the gun/ violence implications involved, it's more so because I'm worried the criminal or urban cowboy getting all stirred up and hailing bullets all over the theater imposing on my freedom to attend a movie worry free of both Idiots. I would prefer they just do it the real old fashion American way and duke it out by the dumpsters but training one's body to be a man requires more effort than a finger pull.

Mystic Michael

There is no question that we Americans have a strange cultural affinity for violence, and in particular, for gun violence. Just look at the big-budget action/adventure films that are Hollywood's bread & butter: Every year the explosions get bigger & louder, the automatic weapons fire more wild & woolly. Europeans & Canadians have this notion that we're all a bunch of cowboys just beneath the surface. For some of us, that's not too far off the mark.

Into this American gun culture, the NRA has cunningly positioned itself - like a tick embedded deeply into the hide of the body politic. For decades, it has cynically incited fears of threat to the Second Amendment, in order to shield itself from the criticism it so richly deserves.

But the NRA doesn't really represent American gun owners so much as it represents American gun manufacturers. And it's not about defending the Second Amendment so much as it's about defending the profits of the firearms industry. As usual, it all boils to money. Spread the money around wide enough and deep enough, and maybe we can turn our heads when it all comes back to bite us.

But not anymore. It's time to speak truth to power. Enough is enough.



I am encouraged by the amount of conversation, debate and information about guns, gun control, and our society's glorification of violence coming force since the Newtown tragedy. I for one am learning more about guns, their casual availability, grisly statistics, and the NRA - a much-feared political force now under the microscope with it's insidious pandering to paranoia to gin up gun manufacturers profits.

Along with increased scrutiny and information, this country needs to examine the deeper issues of gun idolatry, the glorification of violence as entertainment, loosening of parental supervision, the treatments for and the means of identifying the mentally ill.

I find it interesting, but not surprising, how the NRA and gun rights advocates are furiously fighting back, bringing forth every conceivable argument against any new gun safety public policy. It is indeed time to speak truth to power and to continue to build the momentum growing throughout the country for action. The Obama/Biden gun control task force is a promising start, but ultimately, fixing these problems will have to come from outside Washington. After Newtown, it is our response to common sense gun public policy for all of us, especially our children, that will begin to solve the problem.


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