Look at that face.
This young woman is Hadiya Pendleton, the 15-year-old honor student and band majorette who was shot to death on Jan. 29, just days after performing in Washington at events for President Obama’s inauguration.
Pendleton was the victim of mistaken identity in a gang-related shooting.
What parent wouldn’t burst with pride having a daughter like this. What parent wouldn’t be overjoyed if his or her son dated a girl like this.
What sort of human being would be politically indifferent to the pointless death of such a young woman, or to any of the thousands of American children shot to death each year?
How about this guy.
He’s Wayne Lapierre, the face of the NRA and the number one promoter of the “hair of the dog” solution to gun violence.
Just as some people believe that more alcohol is an effective cure for a hangover, Lapierre’s solution to the gun epidemic is more guns.
If he did the same sort of work for the tobacco industry, his message would be that the perils of second-hand smoke could be eradicated if everyone just smoked cigarettes.
Would the nation miss Wayne Lapierre as much as millions now grieve for Hadiya?
Now before any of you borderline psychotic gun monkeys go over the edge pretending that this is a call for someone to gun down Lapierre in the manner to which he’s so indifferent when it happens to others, think again.
First off, this whole discourse is about not shooting people.
Secondly, martyring someone like Lapierre would be as politically horrific as it would be morally abhorrent.
An old friend and well-known political operative once advised, “Never reach for the musket as long as you can toss a banana cream pie in the scoundrel's kisser.”
By the way, if any of you are inclined to fling a pie at Lapierre’s pie hole, in all likelyhood the legal system will treat such an assault as harshly as if the pie was a Glock 9mm. So don’t do it.
Nevertheless, Lapierre's career of putting the gun industry’s bottom line ahead of human life is despicable. As such, society must protect itself from the rhetoric of such harmful gun industry marionettes.
Although this sounds like a veiled suggestion to muzzle [sic] Lapierre, it's not. Rather, it is 'Reveille' for anyone capable of using the power of the first amendment to retard Lapierre’s misuse, abuse and corruption of the second amendment.
Before Hadiya’s funeral, Damon Stewart, Hadiya's godfather, quoted Hadiya's father, Nathaniel Anthony Pendleton, as saying, “This isn't political, this is personal.”
Then Stewart shared a Facebook post he spotted that read: “I'm not going to buy into the hype. What makes this girl so much better than the others?”
The question is predicated on the mistaken belief that her notoriety places her higher than other young murder victims on some imaginary scale of loss.
Stewart destroyed the Facebook poster’s premise by explaining, “She is important because all those other people who died are important. She is important because all of the families who were silent, she speaks for them. She is a representative of the people across the nation who have lost their lives.
He added, "Don't let this turn into a political thing. Keep it personal…”
It is personal. It's nothing but personal. All human suffering is personal, because the only human reality is the individual.
When one reads The Diary of Anne Frank, the power of her story teaches as much about the Holocaust as any scholarly book. Studies of matters such as how many millions were murdered and by what means reduces such widespread suffering to an accounting exercise.
It’s the same with data on the nation’s gun violence epidemic. Because the statistics are just numbers, they’re lobbed back and forth in the debate, but they make no emotional connection.
Not so when we think about Hadiya Pendleton.
Look at Hadiya's photo again. Think about her parents, her 10-year-old brother, other relatives, classmates, teachers, and dozens of good friends. And all that suffering was cultivated by the pointless death of just one individual.
Mass shootings like the Sandy Hook School massacre get mass headlines. Occasionally an individual murder such as this one grabs the nation’s attention. Still, not a day goes by in this country without a child as precious as Hadiya being shot to death.
It isn't that Hadiya Pendleton is "better" or even different than any other young shooting fatality. It's that there are so many such victims.
We cannot be expected to keep track of all of them.