Words Matter

I’ve heard more and more people refer to the Colorado abortion clinic violence as domestic terrorism.  I’m not sure how often I’ve ever really heard that phrase before.   These types of attacks are so interesting to me because so many different  issues are converging: gun control, abortion rights, mental health, terrorism, probably a few others too.  Does it matter what we call it, as long as we all hopefully agree how horrendously wrong it was?

Maybe it does matter.  Maybe words matter and help shape our opinions and perceptions. We are very quick to condemn terrorist attacks such as what happened in Paris, and rightly so.  These attacks are despicable.  Please refer back to my previous posts for how I really feel about what happened in Paris.  Is the Colorado attack and others like it so very different from Paris?  In Colorado, we have a deranged individual inflicting violence based on his ideology.  I guess you could argue that the Colorado guy(I won’t look up or type his name) is mentally ill as opposed to the Paris attackers, who were, what?  Ignorant and without a care for human life?  I suppose there is a distinction to be made but does it matter?  The results are the same.

I looked it up.  The definition of terrorism is “the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims.” That appears to define the Colorado shooting.  So why does it matter what we call it?  I think it does matter when you put it in the context of terrorism, the Syrian refugees,  and domestic gun violence .  What are we really in danger from?

I could look up the actual gun statistics but we all know the general facts.  We are much more likely to be killed by someone with a gun in this country than we are by a foreign terrorist.  Hell, we’re more likely to be shot by a toddler in this country than we are by a foreign terrorist.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/10/14/people-are-getting-shot-by-toddlers-on-a-weekly-basis-this-year/

By pointing this out, I am in no way diminishing the seriousness of the ISIS threat.  I am trying to put the violence in context.  It’s funny how easy it is to get worked up about foreign terrorists while at the same time, mostly ignoring the much more immediate and regularly occurring danger that we allow to happen here with our current gun laws.  I’m not the first person to point this out, of course.  I wonder if there will ever come a time where we change our attitudes about guns?  It’s hard to imagine right now, isn’t it?  But, attitudes and opinions do end up changing over time.  If you told me ten years ago that gay marriage would be legal now, I would not have believed you. So, I’m not giving up hope that we will eventually enact more common sense, gun control measures.  Closing the gun show loophole would be a great place to start.  I’m going to continue to write about guns in this space because I believe that words do matter.

PS  I wrote this before I was aware of the mass shooting today in San Bernadino.  I’d say it was a coincidence but, since we have mass shootings seemingly every day, it’s not really much of a coincidence.

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