When news violated at Christmastime five years ago of what had happened at Newtown a friend, a news anchor, called and said with a broken voice: “What is the word for what we feel? ” I supposed for a moment. “Shattered, ” I said. “We are shattered, all of us.” When people in ensuing days spoke of what had been done to the little children in the classrooms, I’d put up my hands and say no, we can’t hold putting those terms in the air, we can’t afford it. When terrible images enter our heads and settle in, they become too real, and what is real is soon, by the unstable, imitated, repeated.
When Columbine happened in the spring of 1999, it hit me like a wave of sickness. I wrote a piece about the culture of demise that produced the teenage shooters: “Think of it this way. Your child is an intelligent little fish. He swims in deep water. Waves of audio and sight, of thought and fact, come invisibly through that water, like radar . . . . The voice from the television is a wave, and the audio from the radio; the headlines on the newsstand, on the publications, on the ad on the bus as it whizzes by–all are waves. The fish–your child–is bombarded and scarcely knows it. But the waves contain terms like this, which I’ll limit to only one source, the news 😛 TAGEND
“ . . . was find strangled and is believed to have been sexually molested . . . had her breast implant removed . . . took the stand to say the killer was smiling the day the reveal aired . . . said the procedure is, in fact, legal infanticide . . . is thought to be connected to earlier sex activity among teens . . . court combat over who owns the frozen sperm . . . contains sungs that call for predominating and even jailing females . . . succumbed of lethal injection . . . had threatened to kill her children . . . had asked Kevorkian for help in killing himself . . . protested the game, which they said has run beyond violence to sadism . . . presented no sorrow . . . which is about a wager over whether he could sleep with another student . . .
“This is the ocean in which our children swim. This is the sound of our culture. It comes from all parts of our culture and reaches all parts of our culture, and all the people in it, which is everybody.”
To continue reading Peggy Noonan’s column from the Wall Street Journal, click here.
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