Time Magazine Person of the Year should be… the Lone Gunman

by Robert Nagle on 12/18/2012

in Pop Americana,Social Sciences

(This was written a few days after the mass killing by a lone gunman at a Connecticut elementary school which claimed 27 lives).

For the past few years, my mom and I have been busy guessing who will be picked as person of the year by Time magazine. So far I had selected John Roberts (for trying to manage a polarized judicial system and political system) and Steven Colbert. Colbert is my personal favorite; he is an American original; his satirical edge is always on-target and takes Poe’s law to its extreme. Conservatives would  probably enjoy him too (even if  they recognize that he is poking fun of him). I think  the presence of Colbert and Stewart (and probably others)  contributes to political culture without poisoning the discourse.  We should all be thankful for rhetoricians like Colbert. I never cease to be amazed at how effectively Colbert conveys his ironic message underneath the apparently conservative rhetoric. 

Over the weekend, though, I’ve decided that this has to be  the year of the Lone Gunman. Yes, GunMAN (these types tend to be males – although not exclusively). The Lone Gunman has the potential to move society at will; he has some  personality malady and lives in a society that not only permits the ownership of gun for personal protection – it encourages it.

It’s a personality type; I lose track of which individual is which – how many calibers are their weapons and how many rounds are fired – even how many have died.  As gracious as  presidents are when giving these eulogies, I almost wish they  weren’t there to do that. The president’s primary role should be decider-in-chief, not comforter-in-chief. The schedule of the decider-in-chief ought not to be set by the Lone Gunman.  Yes, I realize that comforting the afflicted is politically expedient and it’s a natural role for a president to fall into.  It is society’s way of recognizing the enormity of a tragedy. It also happens to be counterproductive for society as a whole. 

Politicians can and should enact laws to solve problems. They should be held accountable if they don’t or if they fail to support the correct policy.  When politicians offer comforting words during these times of mourning,  it obscures the fact that the politician is not in fact aggressively fighting for laws to combat the problem.

Update: Tom Tomorrow dramatizes the pattern of these kinds of events.

Update #2. Looking at the previous winners, I realize that very few women have won the award, no entertainers have won the award, many international politicians have won the award and that “gimmicky” awards to groups or things tend to occur roughly once very 5 years (and since last year the winner was The Protester, it seems unlikely to happen 2 years in a row). I still vote for Stephen Colbert – who would be a nice change of pace.

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