For those wondering how Jon Stewart was going to cover such a tragedy, here's how. A pretty serious monologue about what our country is facing now.
Boy, would it be nice to be able to draw a straight line of causation from this horror to something tangible, because then we could convince ourselves that if we just stop this, the horrors will end. You know, to have the feeling, however fleeting, that this type of event can be prevented forever. But it's hard not to feel like it can't. You know, you cannot outsmart crazy. You don't know what a troubled mind will get caught on.
I do think it's a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with enemies, if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifestos of paranoid madmen, and what passes for acceptable political and pundit-speak. You know, it would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn't in any way resemble how we actually talk to each other on TV. (applause) Let's at least make troubled individuals easier to spot.
Video and transcript below the fold.
Thanks for joining us, I would love to say that we've got a great show for you tonight, not sure that's the case. We are going to have Dennis Leary in the studio, because quite frankly, after watching the news all weekend, all I want to do is visit with an old friend, and perhaps trade insults about one another's acting ability.
You know, it's hard to know what to say. Obviously, the events this weekend in Arizona weigh heavily. Sadly, it is a feeling that this country's experienced all too often, and unfortunately for our show, the closer that we have gotten towards discussing and dealing with current events, the harder it becomes in situations where reality is truly sad.
I can give you a typical compilation of the day's news excesses, but it doesn't really seem appropriate, and clearly none of our correspondents feels much like standing around "reporting", pretending to be in Washington. At least I don't think they do. Oliver?
JOHN OLIVER: Yeah, no, you're absolutely right. (shows up in pink panda pajamas) Yeah, no one wants to do this. No one wants to do this. Can I go?
JON STEWART: Before you go, is there a reason you're in your panda pajamas?
OLIVER: Is not the bigger question, is there a reason that you are not, Jon? 'Cause I'll tell you why I'm in my panda pajamas. Ah, can we remove the Washington, D.C., picture, Chuck?
I'm in my childhood bedroom, Jon, where I've been rocking back and forth, wondering why the country that I've come to love so much finds itself struggling with these terribly violent tragedies.
STEWART: Well that certainly explains why you're not in Washington. Although I still can't really understand why it explains why you have on adult panda pajamas.
OLIVER: Well, that's a stupid question, Jon. Because children's panda pajamas would look absolutely ridiculous on me! They'd be too small.
JON STEWART: So here we are again, stung by a tragedy. We have been visited by this demon before. Our hearts go out to those that have been injured or killed and their loved ones.
How do you make sense of these types of senseless situations?, is really the question that seems to be on everybody's mind. And I don't know that there is a way to make sense of this sort of thing. As I watched the political pundit world, many are reflecting and grieving and trying to figure things out, but it's definitely true that others are working feverishly to find the tidbit or two that will exonerate their side from blame or implicate the other. And watching that is as predictable, I think, as it is dispiriting.
Did the toxic political environment cause this? A graphic image here, an ill-timed comment, violent rhetoric, those types of things? I have no fucking idea. You know, we live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations, and I wouldn't blame our political rhetoric any more than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine. And by the way, that is coming from somebody who truly hates our political environment. It is toxic, it is unproductive, but to say that that is what has caused this, or that the people in that are responsible for this, I just don't think you can do it.
Boy, would that be nice. Boy, would it be nice to be able to draw a straight line of causation from this horror to something tangible, because then we could convince ourselves that if we just stop this, the horrors will end. You know, to have the feeling, however fleeting, that this type of event can be prevented forever. But it's hard not to feel like it can't. You know, you cannot outsmart crazy. You don't know what a troubled mind will get caught on. Crazy always seems to find a way. It always has. Which is not to suggest that resistance is futile. It sounded pretty dark what I just said there, now that I reconsider it in my own head. "Crazy people rule us all."
I don't think that's true, but, and I do think it's important for us to watch our rhetoric. I do think it's a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with enemies, if for no other reason than to draw a better distinction between the manifestos of paranoid madmen, and what passes for acceptable political and pundit-speak. You know, it would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn't in any way resemble how we actually talk to each other on TV. (applause) Let's at least make troubled individuals easier to spot.
And again, to see good people like this hurt, it is so grievous, and it causes me such sadness, but again, I refuse to give in to that feeling of despair. There is light in this situation. I urge everyone, read up about those who were hurt and/or killed in this shooting. You will be comforted by just how much anonymous goodness there really is in the world. You read about these people, and you realize that all the people that you don't even know, that you have never met, are leading lives of real dignity and goodness, and you hear about crazy, but it's rarer than you think.
And I think you'll find yourself even more impressed with Congresswoman Giffords, and amazed at how much living some of the deceased packed into lives that were cut way too short. And if there is real solace in this, I think it's that for all the hyperbole and the vitriol that's become a part of our political process, when the reality of that rhetoric, when actions match the disturbing nature of words, we haven't lost our capacity to be horrified. And please, let us hope we never do. Let us hope we never become numb to what real horror, what the real blood of patriots looks like when it's spilled.
Maybe it helps us to remember to match our rhetoric with reality more often. Because the reality of dangerous rhetoric is, I think, even those that speak hyperbolically, I think all of them tonight would absolutely recoil and say, wow, that is not the picture of what we were discussing and what we were talking about, and I have to remember that there's a reality to that situation that we can't approach verbally.
Because someone or something will shatter our world again. And wouldn't it be a shame if we didn't take this opportunity, and the loss of these incredible people, and the pain that their loved ones are going through right now, wouldn't it be a shame if we didn't take that moment to make sure that the world that we are creating now, that will ultimately be shattered again by a moment of lunacy, wouldn't it be a shame if that world wasn't better than the one we'd previously lost?
So, how will we process this tonight? Absolutely no idea. We'll come back, I'll show a field piece about something incredibly stupid and silly. Dennis Leary will come out here, he and I will most likely insult each other playfully. And then tomorrow, you know, we go back to trying to do what we normally do, which is highlight absurdity in a comical way that is a catharsis for people, and not a sadness. So thank you for listening. I know this is probably more helpful for me than it is for you. But we'll be right back.