#803: The Machine

June 14th, 2017

It starts with a reference at work, that’s where the machine rumbles to life.

We’re past the point as a culture where we tell people news. The assumption now is that we already know what happened. The assumption is that we already know who killed whom by firing what randomly where. The assumption when chatting in the office is that it’s OK to start right in on the references and skip the 5 Ws and the H (who, what, when, where, why and how many dead).

The machine just kicks into motion with people making references about whatever happened. It starts mid-conversation, people giving a little silent boggle with their eyes when you admit your phone didn’t cheap chirp smack the news at you.

You were on a bike at the time, coasting through a sunlit city. You didn’t hear the machine get fueled.

Today the fuel was a shooting of GOP congressmen at a softball game. But it’s been dead children at concerts and classrooms. It’s been a bombing at a charity race, gunmen in movie theaters and southern black churches. A white man in NYC who stabbed a black man to death as “practice.”

We yell and we scream — our outrage whirs and sputters as the machine rumbles to full power.

We don’t yell and scream for the dead and wounded. They’re incidental. Sure, we thoughts and prayers them. We thoughts and prayers the hell out of them. We give our due diligence on Twitter and Facebook to let people know we’re not the ones politicizing this, the other guys are the ones politicizing this and here’s all the reasons the other guys are terrible, terrible people.

We call them madmen when they look like us. Let that sink in.

When the bombers, gunmen, spray-fire aimers at children and congressmen and worshippers look like we look and feel politically like we feel, they’re wacko nutso madmen loons and, by the way, here’s all the reasons the other guys are terrible, terrible people.

We give them the freedom of insanity when a Christian fundamentalist hunts children in Norway, or a veteran drives a truck of explosives in Oklahoma.

But the others aren’t madmen, they’re symptoms. They’re symptoms of Islam, of Sharia law, of conservativism, of GOP gun lust, of liberal bias, of the mainstream media, of that photo of that obnoxious comedian with the red hair holding up the severed Trump head, of the other guys the other guys the other guys the other guys who are — and let me tell you why — terrible, terrible people.

I have never met a person whose political beliefs weren’t strengthened by mass violence. I’ve never seen any other response than “This goes to show what I’ve been saying all along.”

The machine winds down, the outrage ebbs. Thoughts and prayers have not saved a single soul or kept a single shell in its casing, but at least the oozy treacle of religion and good wishin’ has shellacked our outrage down to the point we can function as adults and keep our paperwork flying.

Then someone makes a new reference at work, a mid-conversation startup and a little silent boggle that you don’t know what happened because you shut down Twitter so you could try to get something done.

Something else has fueled up the machine.

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You are currently reading #803: The Machine by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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