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Last night, very late, I published the latest Books And Booze podcast, so this morning I logged into Twitter to let my followers know. I glanced over the trending topics and noticed “Colorado Shooting” and “Columbine” trending, which I thought was odd, so I clicked.

The tweets featured gave me a basic idea of what had happened. I felt my heart sink and a general sense of “oh shit” come over me. Then I noticed a tweet mentioning the infant that was injured in the massacre–the person was upset that the infant was even there. I felt a moment’s rage–how is this even relevant? People are dead, those parents are likely thanking whatever they believe in that their infant survived. But it is easy enough to brush off a single sentiment from a single person on the internet.

By noon, I think I was ready to write off humanity entirely. Why? Because everyone seemed to be using this horrifying tragedy to push their personal agendas. Pro-gun people went on about how if more people were armed the man could have been stopped. Anti-gun people went on about how dangerous guns are. People in favor of universal healthcare used this as an example of why everyone needs mental health coverage. More about infants in movie theaters. More and more and more.

And I have to ask–when did the victims of this horrible crime stop being human beings?

I am sure the people posting about this thought they were doing something at least partially selfless. I am not judging their hearts on an individual basis, but I am disgusted by how this unfolded. Can we not allow the 12 dead to make it to the funeral parlor before we start viewing them as vehicles for our political beliefs? Can those survived have a moment to process everything that happened to them before we forget that they were actual human beings that had been through a real terror and neglect to mention them AT ALL when posting/talking about this event?

The political response, of course, is to proclaim that if your personal belief were held by all/put into law, that this would never have happened. The human response is to feel empathy for those who were involved. To think of the terror the survivors are likely still living in. To think of the family and friends of those who were brutally killed.

I am not special in any kind of way that really matters in this situation. I hold some of my socio-political beliefs very close to my heart. But I do like to think that I am more than those socio-political beliefs. I like to think that I am a human being before I am a member of an advocacy group, a political party, or a religion. I am so outraged right now it is hard to lay out what I really want to say, and at the same time I feel a little guilty for being outraged at these people when, in fact, there are people suffering because of this shooting in Colorado, and that’s the only reason I have something to be outraged over.

I know it’s an election year, and politicians like to make us believe the “other guy” is going to do the opposite of what we want. The other guy is going to take away our right to bear arms, or he is the one who is going to make sure every whack job in the country has a gun. He’s going to make our country unsafe in this way or that. Your religious freedom is at risk. Your freedom to be without religion is at risk. Everything is at risk! But it’s bullshit. It’s political bullshit. What happened in Colorado last night was incredibly real. People lost their lives. Others were terrorized.

So please, from the bottom of my heart, can we see these people as people, at least for a little while? Like everyone else in the country I have opinions on religion’s role in government, gun rights, and universal healthcare, but those opinions mean fuck-all to the grieving families left behind and those who likely still haven’t slept since being shot at in a crowded movie theater.

Just once this election year, can we try to be human beings first?

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