I don’t have much to say in the wake of Sandy Hook’s tragedy. And of the little I think I could say with passable confidence, I’m going to reserve, and instead take the moment to ruminate—turning over the ideas, opinions, and arguments again and again to make sure they’re properly digested.
Here are three of the most useful pieces I’ve encountered in reflecting on some of the rhetorical elements at play in this awful situation. Well, there are two pieces directly relevant to the massacre, and one to help pull you out of that pit of gloom you are probably curled up in if you’ve watched more than an hour of media coverage.
1. I’ve linked to Charlie Brooker’s rhetorical genius before on Harlot, so perhaps some of you are already familiar with his work in breaking down the formulas of mass media. From what I’ve witness on television in the past twenty-four hours, however, the lesson bears some repeating:
2. Nate Silver knows as well as any other politically astute fellow that you don’t win any long-term argument without first shifting the key terms of the debate in your favor. In his post, “In Public ‘Conversation’ on Guns, A Rhetorical Shift,” Silver has an introductory paragraph that should make just about any rhetorician shiver with gratitude:
Friday’s mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., has already touched off a heated political debate. Opponents of stricter regulation on gun ownership have accused their adversaries of politicizing a tragedy. Advocates of more sweeping gun control measures have argued that the Connecticut shootings are a demonstration that laxer gun laws can have dire consequences. Let me sidestep the debate to pose a different question: How often are Americans talking about public policy toward guns? And what language are they using to frame their arguments?
3. Straight and simple: Buzzfeed’s, “26 Moments that Restored Our Faith in Humanity.” There are plenty of uplifting stories in here, and more than a few tear-jerkers, so be prepared. I made it through most of the way with a grateful grin and welled eyes, but I’m a hopeless dog lover, so I pretty much lost it at #23: