It’s usually very difficult to comment on national tragedies where crowds of innocent people are injured or killed, like the several that occurred this week. I think I’ve pointed out before that editorial cartoons, as a rule, tend to be better the more cynical they are, but cynicism rarely has a place in the immediate aftermath of a mass-shooting or a terrorist attack, at least not as long as the motives of the attackers remain mostly or entirely unknown.
Most cartoonists, with the tighter and more frequent deadlines that come with being employed, resort to the relatively mindless, knee-jerk response of reporting on events without really commenting on them: “A (Tragic) Thing Happened, but America will prevail.” I can’t say I blame them, though I find those types of cartoons are rarely a venue for the minimum level of cleverness or thought I can respect.
My first reaction to the bombing at the Boston Marathon was somewhere along the lines of “I’m getting really tired of this kind of thing,” since it seems like we have instances of mass-violence happening somewhere in the country practically every other week, lately. Why, just today, there was a shooting at a crowded 4/20 celebration in Colorado–I thought stoners were supposed to be mellow!
I didn’t think I could make a good cartoon out of that sentiment, so I started exploring the periphery of the topic, looking for people being jerks in response to see if I could comment on that, instead. I was close to doing one about some automatically blaming the attack on Muslims, “dark-skinned” individuals, or Tea Baggers, but I wasn’t certain I could complete such an illustration before the identities of the attackers were discovered, and in any case, I expected that wouldn’t keep for very long. So, I threw out that concept and grudgingly prepared to do an “A Thing Happened”-style cartoon, hoping I could make it a little more meaningful than every other cartoonist’s attempt by at least putting the recent attack in the context of previous ones, such as the Oklahoma City Bombing, the Unabomb(ings), and 9/11.
Luckily for me, Congress proved on Thursday that I could always depend on their incompetence in such times of need by failing to get even the most cursory gun control passed in the Senate, to say nothing of the even more functionally-handicapped House. Despite the recent rash of mass-shootings, and overwhelming public support for such controls, they instead decided it was more important to once again prove their loyalty to the NRA, defeating every potential protection for gun victims while still passing protections for gun owners! Oh, won’t someone please think of the gun owners!?
I thought this was ironic, in light of the extraordinary measures the Federal government has been known to resort to in response to “terrorism,” and decided that parallel would make a good cartoon, so what you see above is two shots of carnage, identical except for the type of weapon employed to create it, but which our lawmakers treat differently because the NRA doesn’t represent bomb owners (yet).