Yesterday I ran away from my radio to escape the speculative dross that is so central to digging into and filling up the terror terroir. Just how many times can you hear a journo say “we’re uncertain at this time” or “we’re hearing conflicting accounts” or even worse “there may be a coordinated attack,” before simple compassion for the victim and mild anxiety about social order collapses into a great bowel moving dirge of social inertia?
Our immediate concern was our daughter’s military affiliation. As a uniform-wearing marching band member her number could be up at any public performance. When we spoke with her last night she did her best to calm our beating hearts. Then she lowered the boom by telling us that a member of her brass quintet had been stationed at the war memorial the previous morning.This bit of news established a weird proximity to assassination. It poured vinegar into a watered-down post #shooter narrative that privileged security fixes and the prerogatives of an ideological state apparatus that had heedlessly secured our helplessness.
And on, and on, the telling has gone. Despite the relentless unfolding, the vulgar identity of the instrument of terror has emerged in a fragmented sidebar: “big”, “huge”, “shot” gun. Like a gopher on a cloudless day in February the long-gun has dissolved into the shadow of an unknowable trigger finger. Really? in Canada, gun ownership is restricted and controlled because they are lethal weapons. Today we know more about the Sergeant-at-Arms’ pistol and the para-military machine guns than about the long-gun that ended a young man’s life.
Once upon a time, a registry kept track of these firearms. The registry was enabled by core Canadian values and enacted because lost young men in Canada have a history of using long-guns to kill people based on affiliation (MNAs in 1984, women in 1989, students in 2006). Then the registry was dismantled. The database was erased by the same man who yesterday urged ‘vigilance’ and hubrisized “Canada will never be intimidated!” Might the long-gun registry have aided the RCMP in determining if the killer’s suspected radical thoughts were somehow connected with his capacity to do something about them? Yes.
As a distant witness to my own culture I wonder how the consequences of the #Ottawashooting will play out. How can we disintermediate this event from the whopping aggregation of images that tell us there is no going back. Just how are we to resolve participatory democracy in the Age of Lockdown?