In the aftermath of the grisly killings at UC Santa Barbara, one victim's father, Richard Martinez, has been especially vehement about where the blame lies: Martinez condemned Congress as a "rudderless bunch of idiots" in an interview with CNN Monday. His son, Christopher, was one of the six victims slain in a drive-by shooting rampage Friday, along with thirteen other victims wounded. In spite of this very understandable reason for his rage, grief and disgust at politicians, his outcry in favor of gun regulation has earned him some profoundly ill-timed criticism from the American right-wing.
Martinez's interview is brutally emotional, and wrenched with pain. His composure held when he spoke of his issues with the media's coverage of the shooting — the routine insistence, for example, on headlining the image, name, and views of the killer, as opposed to emphasizing those aspects of the slain victims. In Martinez's view, this distracts focus from the solitary truths that could spur meaningful action: "If you start talking about the people who died — they're real."
There's something to be said for having a sense of discretion, empathy, and restraint in the aftermath of a crisis like this, most of all towards the grieving relatives and loved ones of the victims. But sadly, not everyone's kept that in mind when it comes to Martinez. As is common, the heat has come fastest and most unpleasantly on social media, where some pro-gun conservatives have railed against him.
Perhaps the highest-profile instance of overt antagonism towards Martinez came from longtime conservative Twitter boor Todd Kincannon, whose history of virulently sexist, racist proclamations is already pretty well-documented. You can now officially add "attacker of murder victims" to that list.
Suffice to say, if the far-right message on this point is to disparage Martinez over gun control, immediately following the brutal shooting death of his own son, by calling him a "fucked up Leftist moron" or an "asshole," it's barely a political message at all. If that strategy is to call slain victims "cowering bitches," it has even less impact in real political terms. Because this argument appeals to precisely nobody, and will only harm the Right's argument.
But whether this argument, or Martinez', will have any impact is another matter altogether. After all, as Martinez reminded us, the grief that consumed the nation following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings in October 2012 wasn't enough to drive any lasting gun-control policies.
Where is the leadership? ... My kid died because nobody responded to what happened at Sandy Hook! Those parents lost little kids! It's bad enough that I lost my 20-year-old, but I had 20 years with my son! That's all I'll ever have, but those people lost their children at six and seven years old. How do you think they feel, and who's talking to them now, who's doing anything for them now? Who's standing up for those kids that died back then, in an elementary school? Why wasn't something done? It's outrageous!