After a school shooting, grief turns into currency almost immediately: First in the service of ratings, and then soon after that into a political bargaining chip. Since 17 people were killed in Parkland, I’ve read (and written) a lot about the gruesome statistics that attend mass acts of violence, interviewed people who have been advocating for the same measures for decades, watched the takes—more guns, fewer guns, different guns—glut cable TV and every publication I read. It’s just like the last time, and also the time before that.
Right now everyone wants to talk about gun violence, but mostly as an epidemic we have a moral responsibility to change. There isn’t much bandwidth left for true horror. In the last few weeks, I’ve had conversations with friends where we wonder why it’s so hard to wrestle something so clearly, viscerally wrong into meaningful action. Sometimes I worry, as someone who grew up in a post-Columbine America, that I’ve become accustomed to the fact that young men will open fire on their classmates every few months or so.
Anyway, last night I read this on the subway and it fucking ruined me:
It was written in 1996 by Jo Ann Beard. The story first ran in the New Yorker’s fiction issue, though it is definitely all true. It’s the most staggering thing I’ve read all year, and while I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading it on the subway where you might turn into the kind of person who cries in public, I would suggest you take time away from whatever argument you’re having online and read it all the way through.