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Sandy Hook graphic, names of 20 kids in heart shape on green background

Graphic created by Begany Design, Sandy Hook, CT. Used with permission

Words matter. Descriptions matter.

For example, I don't personally refer to the massacre of 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 as "the Sandy Hook shootings" although others do. Sandy Hook is a part of Newtown, and Newtown is my home. To call it something other than Newtown feels to me like saying it happened to "them" and sets them apart, when it happened to us and devastated the entire town.

If I want to indicate something that is reserved for those who lost someone or who was there, like a visit with the President or an invitation to a Congressional hearing on gun legislation, I'll talk about "the families" or Sandy Hook School.

That's not to say that I begrudge anyone else saying it, particularly those who live in Sandy Hook. They get to refer to it any way they want. It's just one of those things to be aware of, the subtlety in language and usage that nonetheless carries meaning.

Here's another issue to be aware of, and Newtowners struggle with it. Is the number memorialized 20 (the children), 26 (killed at the school), 27 (the victims, including Nancy Lanza)? It's never 28, though that's the number of deaths we recorded on 12/14. I promise you, the answer to that question is not an easy one to answer, though 26 is the most commonly seen number. There were 27 victims, 26 at Sandy Hook School.

Whatever the number, whatever the expression of grief, it wil be a long, long time before we get over it.

My friend and fellow Newtown resident, MaryAnn Murtha expressed a lot of this in an op-ed that appeared in the Washington Post this week:

You know also that Newtown is suffering. A man shot and killed 20 of our schoolchildren and six of our educators in a matter of minutes on Dec. 14. Since then, green and white ribbons, the colors of Sandy Hook Elementary School, adorn our jackets, as we console each other and proclaim that we are Newtown Strong. Our shared grief is so thick you can almost hold it in your hands. As a town we weep unexpectedly and openly, just as our governor, Dannel Malloy, a tough former assistant district attorney from Brooklyn, choked up as he spoke during the opening of Connecticut’s legislative session. As one woman told me, standing by the cucumbers in the grocery store, tears welling in her eyes, “You just never know when it’s gonna hit ya.”
But as haunting a description as that was, MaryAnn wrote that op-ed to advance an idea:
Many have asked, What can we do? Well, here’s my answer: For the sake of the victims, their families, Sandy Hook and Newtown, call the shooting 12/14.

The national media have, insensitively, begun to call 12/14 “Sandy Hook” or “Newtown.” Listening to TV the other night, I heard someone say, “We just don’t want another Newtown.” Ouch.

Our friends in Columbine know. Our friends in Aurora know. Our friends in Oklahoma City know. Having your town’s name synonymous with an evil act does not aid the healing process; in fact, it adds to the pain and casts shadows. Here in Newtown, we have seen enough darkness. We need your light, your love and your support.

Let's explore more of that idea below the fold.

I have had to call people outside of CT on multiple occasions since 12/14. I cringe a bit inside when I need to tell them where I am calling from.

It's not because I am ashamed of my town; far from it. The heroism shown on 12/14 was awesome, in every sense of that overused word. The teachers, the first responders, my fellow pediatricians, everyone involved—how can you not be inspired by them? They saved lives, though not enough of them.

No, I cringe because I'm not angling to elicit the "Oh. Oh, my. I'm so sorry!" response that identification of the location so often brings. In fact, the genuine emotion of grief and sorrow that I've received in that and other settings is heartwarming, just as it has been from commenters right here at Daily Kos. But it belongs in another setting, at another time, and like other townsfolk, I can be grateful while still wishing there were some way for the name to not invoke that kind of response, especially when I'm calling to transact some routine and mundane business and get on about it as efficiently as I can.

It's hard to tell people what to say and how to label things. It's always been one of my objections to the idea of "framing". Framing isn't unimportant, but in so many contexts people decide for themselves how they label things, rather than take advice from others. I can't see myself calling for it the way MaryAnn did, but I can see myself using it.

Nonetheless, MaryAnn advances an interesting thought. To call it 12/14 does depersonalize it a bit, or "de-town" it, if you will.

As a native New Yorker, I have always had an easier time thinking about 9/11 rather than the World Trade Center (another still-painful event that involved people I knew). That date, that set of events also involved more than just one locale, and it was a convenient shorthand to recognize the Pentagon and Flight 93 as well as the two towers. But now that Newtown gets mentioned so often, I can see the attraction of thinking of it as 12/14.

In any case, give it some thought. It's not an idea that will universally catch on, all at once. But the original 9/11 didn't catch on immediately either. And yes, I can already see that apologies are due to those born on that date (there's been at least one comment to that effect). In that regard, I'm sure my friend Markos Moulitsas, publisher of this web site and born on September 11, has his own opinion.

Here's an example from this week's Newtown Bee, the local paper. In a story about a grassroots support group called Sandy Hook Promise, it's mentioned that

"People who go through [this kind of trauma] don't even know for a long time what they need," Ms DeYoung said. How people change from an event like 12/14 is something that may have to be addressed down the road.
You'll hear 12/14 in town, and perhaps we'll hear it elsewhere.

Well, however you think of the idea, think on Newtown kindly. The generosity from outside has been overwhelming, but at this stage in our post-traumatic recovery, the intent is to get back to normal rather than try to remain unique. Keep that in mind when you discuss the 12/14 concept.

Of course, there's another way you can remember Newtown and 12/14, and that's to participate in the national dialogue about gun rights, gun safety and gun violence. Do it in a way that respects all sides of the issue and all points of view. That Sandy Hook Promise group I mentioned is doing the same.

Sandy Hook Promise will reach out to gun advocacy groups as they explore a position to take on gun responsibility, they said. "You have to talk to both sides," Mr Makris emphasized. "We're saying we need dialogue with people to see where is the resistance," he said.

All subjects are open to discussion. By bringing in people with divergent viewpoints, understanding may come about. In a country of ideas and innovation, Mr Shull said, they are looking for new ideas to old problems.

They see it as a positive sign that Sandy Hook Promise has attracted a diverse group of people. "We have gun owners, and non-gun owners. We have people who belong to the NRA. There are Republicans and Democrats here," Mr Shull said.

Remember that the goal isn't to win an argument, it's to stop more children from being killed. If what you're saying or doing isn't furthering that aim, you're not learning from Newtown's experience and what happened on 12/14.

On the other hand, if you hear what everyone has to say, if you truly listen, and maybe learn, we will perhaps do the right thing and have the courage to act to honor those who acted with courage on 12/14.

Now, that would be something.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

    •  and by that I mean (34+ / 0-)

      play nice ;-)

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 04:32:26 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This makes special sense to me. (7+ / 0-)

        In 1989, there was violence at...the Super Bowl? I think it was, and the resulting sturm und drang caused economic damage to the area in question. I was watching coverage of that and they were interviewing some vendor who says, "It's not like this stuff doesn't happen other places. Look at Stockton, California!" which is where I'm from.
        So I can kinda relate to this.

        "Everything I do is blown out of proportion. It really hurts my feelings." - Paris Hilton

        by kestrel9000 on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:10:35 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  sadly the problem is that mass murder (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          a2nite, Cali Scribe, mcmom, drmah

          is becoming common enough that there may not be enough days in the year to commemorate all of them and it would be criminal to exclude any of them.

          Perhaps it is just my perception but does anyone have any stats on the number of mass murders vs a century or 50 years ago?

          •  Murder in America is really bad (8+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            a2nite, mcmom, Janet 707, LeftOfYou, Tommye, MJB, BYw, koNko

            when the only murders worth discussing involve multiple bodies, especially in upper class white neighborhoods.

            That in itself is a major symptom of too damned many guns floating around in the hands of idiots and ignorant frightened people.

            These people are dying as sacrifices so that the gun manufacturers can sell more guns. Guns for the consumer market create a real marketing problem for the manufacturers. A gun is a permanent thing. It doesn't wear out. No "planed obsolescence." Once you build and sell a gun, that market is filled.

            So the market has to be expanded. How? Make people afraid and offer more guns as totems to reduce their fear.

            Guns are merely totems because even in the hands of professionals guns rarely protect anyone. More guns cannot protect people from guns and more guns. A gun in a holster is nothing more than a symbol of intimidation.

            The NRA is the gun manufacturer's organization to stoke that fear. But the mass of unnecessary guns across the nation is the core of the problem, along with the profit-making organizations that make and sell the guns.

            The US Supreme Court has by its actions and rhetoric has ceased to be legitimate. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot - over

            by Rick B on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:25:15 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Remember when Cronkite ended his (9+ / 0-)

            program with how many days we had been in Vietnam? It  went a long way in changing the minds of many about the war. If the mainstream media (NBC seems most likely) would just say how many were killed at home (US) by guns the previous day, it might help to keep the carnage in the minds of our easily-distracted populace. Of course, that is just a hope from me, as I abhor physical violence of any kind, regardless of whether it involves guns, other weapons, or a parent's hand.

            I think, therefore I am. I think.

            by mcmom on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:37:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Some Chicago papers have done this (5+ / 0-)

              and public awareness that this is a daily tragedy, a continuing assault on our communities and neighborhoods, and nationwide, a shame we'd rather ignore than face up to, because of the messy bigotries in poverty, gender and race politics.

              The raw facts of dozens of gun deaths and injuries daily and weekly spread across every state and city in this country is kept out of the conversation even when our hearts are broken by these precious six and seven year olds, and their teachers.

              But there are many, many innocents among the fallen elsewhere, including children, and it's only because they're not concentrated in a supposedly safe suburban grade school, and massacred en masse, that we think we can ignore them.  But the truth is more difficult than that - it's about the other values we hold, the ones I mentioned, where we ignore some communities and some problems because "those people" are just too difficult to help.

              We really need to examine ALL our biases and values if what we decide and act upon is to have lasting value here...

              "There is power in speaking up. We know the face of unfettered gun proliferation. Now it’s time to see more faces of regulation and restraint." - Charles Blow

              by Beastly Fool on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 12:37:02 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  I really don't think there is much chance of (8+ / 0-)

          this 12/14 reference catching on.  The media hasn't picked up on it, and even if they do the public already has "Newtown" or "Sandy Hook" embedded in their brains relative to the tragedy.  If 12/14 is used in conversation with the general public the image of the tragedy, where they were when they heard about it and how it affected them will be lost on them.

          I'm sorry Newtown doesn't want to be singled out as the face of tragedy for the horrific events that day - I certainly understand that - but they're going to have to accept the reference.  Perhaps it can be turned into a positive reference as the face of impetus for rational gun control finally being enacted in this country.

          "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

          by SueDe on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:48:42 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thank you for posting this... (12+ / 0-)

        Greg, the reference to 12/14 may serve a purpose of "de-town"ing, and it may seem to lean in the direction of de-personalizing it. But the reality is that 12/14 was a national tragedy, it was our national heart that was broken. We each have a personal response to it, the neuro-motor memory of our place, our responses, the deepening sense of loss. All of that. Continuing to use the term "Newtown" means it happened somewhere else, a place other than my own, other than me, in a way.

        So, give it to us all. Let's take it. Let's own it. We are all connected to it, whether we like it or not.

      •  How do you bring someone like Wayne LaPierre (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Janet 707, drmah, LeftOfYou

        into a "both sides" discussions of guns? He does represent the largest and most prominent "gun owners" group in the country. How do you integrate his viewpoints? I'm just asking because I don't know. He seems a bit intransigent.

        Jon Husted is a dick.

        by anastasia p on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:59:48 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'd skip him (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          belle1, drmah, alice kleeman

          And talk directly to members.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:49:40 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not sure I agree. (0+ / 0-)
            I'd skip him
            As quoted by the OP, Mr. Makris of SHP says:
            We're saying we need dialogue with people to see where is the resistance
            The NRA is a major stakeholder in this debate and should be engaged by those who support reforming America's tragically failed gun policies. If the NRA wants to try defending the indefensible public health and public safety costs of gun policy failure, let them.

            Aren't you glad that the clueless won't get a chance to run the country again, just yet? Yeah. Me too.

            by LeftOfYou on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 01:24:12 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  there were 28 deaths (24+ / 0-)

    leaving the shooter out of the 'count' doesn't change that. He was a very troubled individual who needed help. Hating him and excluding him doesn't help. There are people just like him alive today who are also not getting help.

    "I'm sculpting now. Landscapes mostly." ~ Yogi Bear

    by eXtina on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:13:21 AM PST

  •  Here's some light, love, and support for you. (5+ / 0-)

    "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

    by rocksout on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:20:09 AM PST

  •  Thank you for this essay, Greg (9+ / 0-)

    Out of respect for the suffering, I will always refer to it as 12/14.

    Tears come to my eyes whenever I think of those defenseless innocents and the teachers who tried to save them.

    I wish it would never happen again.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:23:31 AM PST

    •  Personally, I don't like using the date. (14+ / 0-)

      It reminds me of 9/11, which involves other issues.  If every tragedy is labeled by date, before long none would have much meaning.

      For me, the word Newton evokes a place and community and a unique event.

    •  I like the idea also as it relates (0+ / 0-)

      to 9/11. That was something done to us from outside, and stirs the enmity that has cost us so much. And it was on a scale that puts it outside our day to day experience (though out annual gun deaths outnumber the deaths on that date).

      But there was something intimate about what happened on 12/14 in Newtown. This was us, this was out children, including Adam Lanza. I have a son who is mentally ill, whom I remember as a first grader, and can find compassion for all the families involved.

      Using a date to identify an event is like using only a first name to identify a person - the event is so powerful that we need nothing else to understand what the date means.

      I'm in Tucson, and we have our own date as well. But as I said, the shootings of 12/14 have an immediacy and intimacy of their own.

      I like the idea of using 12/14.

      Republicans want to make government small enough to fit in your vagina..

      by ramara on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:01:36 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We can all get behind this. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lyvwyr101, OhioNatureMom, kyril
  •  I hesitate to post as your emotions are (20+ / 0-)

    clearly raw, as they should be and I have no wish to increase your pain.  However, I would suggest that the main problem with remembering an event with a date rather than its place name, can become confusing.

    The clearest example I can think of is Pearl Harbor.  While FDR said that 12/07/1941 would live forever in infamy, it seems the exact date of the attack fades from public memory as the generation that witnessed the attack fade into history.  I would say the same for 11/22/1963.  As the generation that stood witness to an event fades away, it is more difficult to remember it by the date.

    The other possible objection is that there are so many outrages these days that remembering by dates becomes confusing when the events occur on the same day or close together.  While mass murders may not have been unusual a century ago or even 50 years ago, it does seem as if they are becoming more common.

    I apologize if my observations are offensive but, looking to future generations and trying to ensure that these events are memorialized, it seems the public mind finds it easier, over time, to tie events to places as opposed to time.  The one exception seems to be 9/11 which has largely supplanted the references to the WTC attacks but that may be because of the three attacks in three different states on the same day.

  •  it has to stop (9+ / 0-)

    we, as a people, have to find a way to stop it. that has to take precedence. it has to stop.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:37:34 AM PST

  •  Any name you call it (8+ / 0-)

    invokes deep sadness, but when I hear "Newtown" the immediate picture in my brain is of a photo that was posted of the center of town (I think), with a flagpole and a church with a steeple.

    I'm pretty tired of being told what I care about.

    by hulibow on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:39:17 AM PST

    •  And 'Sandy Hook'. I'm concerned changing the (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite, salamanderempress, kyril

      name of it would distract.

      I see what you did there.

      by GoGoGoEverton on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 08:53:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  yep, that's my town (11+ / 0-)

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:04:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Pure Americana (0+ / 0-)

        Lovely town, you are lucky to live there.

        We call the US 美国 (měi guó) meaning "beautiful nation" or "beautiful country" and it is that in many ways.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:41:41 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  true on both counts (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          This flagpole, the present one, has been in place for the past 59 years with little deterioration, even after having been hit by a car in 1979 which was traveling at an estimated 55 mph late one night.  The injury sustained by the Newtown flagpole was a minor dent.  The car was demolished.  Such resilience is due to its weight  of 2.5 tons and the fact that is buried to a depth of 11 feet below Main Street.

          In the morning when you listen to the traffic on the radio, you'll hear something like "15 minute backup at the Newtown flagpole".  We always find this funny - there's just something about the flagpole that makes you smile.

          We hope that you'll think the flagepole in Newtown, CT is as great as we do.  It is one of the things that makes Newtown, CT a special place to live.

          "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

          by Greg Dworkin on Mon Jan 28, 2013 at 04:15:59 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I do not remember the exact date of (11+ / 0-)

    the Triangle Fire, but I do know that it was a pivotal event in history which brought about radical changes in our labor safety and fire safety laws.  It was a horrible event that proves that we as a society can choose to make the world better in the wake of a tragedy thereby honoring the victims by saving millions into the future.

    History, name, place and context are important, I think.  I don't think about Newtown as a bad place as a result of this horrifying tragedy.  I think about how it is an example of a really nice place (I used to spend time in that area in the summers when I lived in NYC) that is just as much at risk of a tragic event as any place in America is.  In the context of a gun debate, it represents, along with the other gun-related mass shooting tragedies in recent years - a clear signal that we are not doing something right in how we manage gun rights and ownership in this country.

    Turning the event into a date - detached from geographical location - detaches it from the people closest to the tragedy - and, I think, that detachment has liabilities including making it easier for people far away to pretend that it is not their problem.  Trust me when I tell you that that is already happening - to the point where I scolded an FB "friend" two days ago for sharing a link full of those conspiracy theories.  I have friends in the Newtown area.  I explained to that FB person that they are real people and that the event was real and not some crazy conspiracy.  He posts about guns and god a lot and so I told him to pray for you all in that region without overtly telling him to stop being myopic about his guns.  He wrote back chastened and said that they had been praying for you.  I told him to keep it up.

    The point of that story is that we can't let the people fall out of the discussion.  The discussion about the 2nd Amendment has to be about both guns and people - about people's lives and their right to a peaceful civil democratic society.  The gun marketing lobby has done a very good job of making victims into abstractions - to make people forget, not believe and/or detach themselves from these tragedies.  That has got to stop.

    For me, if we are able to enact reasonable changes to our laws that would help us to have a more peaceful and safe civil society, Newtown will become a mecca of sorts - a place where horrible tragedy struck, but also and more importantly a place in which we as a society found the strength to make meaningful changes that would help save lives well into the future.  I am humbled and grateful to the parents of the children who are working towards change even when their process of grief is so early and so raw.  If only we were all as strong and unselfish in the face of such awful tragedy and loss.


    •  I pass the suggestion to you all because (7+ / 0-)

      Newtowners suggest it. I don't think people will ever fall out of the discussion.

      But it is what it is, and people will call it what they call it.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:06:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes they will. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, Greg Dworkin, UFOH1

        I'm just sharing my thoughts.

        Of course, I never liked and probably never will like "9/11".  I think that names are more personal than numbers.

        •  With the 9/11 attacks though, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          inclusiveheart, alice kleeman

          what name do you give?

          Not World Trade Center, because that diminishes the impact of the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of the plane in Pennsylvania. And I'd avoid any name that invoked Islam because we've already got a huge amount of Islamophobia in this country (and indeed, phobia of anyone who is "other").

          With tragedies, whether natural or human-caused, it's common to attach them to a name, whether a location (Loma Prieta, Jonestown) or the name of the disaster (Katrina, Sandy). 9/11 was so widespread that it makes more sense to use the date rather than a location.

          There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

          by Cali Scribe on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:00:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  I actually say - The NY World Trade Center and (4+ / 0-)

            Pentagon attacks on September 11th, 2001.

            Honestly, the lack of specificity of 9/11 has made it more of a world terrorist day (see Benghazi among other attacks since) than a day to which we can point and say "we did something good in honor of those people's lives that were mercilessly taken".

            That tragedy was co-opted to lead us into a war under false premises; erode our Constitutional rights; undermine American democracy; to turn parts of our government on its citizens instead of on those who really threaten us; and to militarize our society.  I'd be totally pissed off if that had happened as a result of my death.

            DC and NYC are two of my hometowns.  That day was scary, difficult and sad as hell.  But the days, weeks, months and years afterward as I saw critical elements of our Constitutional rights dismantled were worse for me.  I am really tired of people who live in bum-f*ck-nowhere that a terrorist would ever bother to go telling me that giving up some of our most important democratic principles because a group of assholes attacked the United States.

            I hope a much more sane and reasonable conversation comes out of the massacre of those children.  I hope that our society looks for better solutions rather than devolving to the lowest common denominator or taking the easiest path.  The people lost out after the attacks on September 11th, 2001 - hopefully they won't lose out on this front, too.

          •  I guess the other thing about the (3+ / 0-)

            massacre of these children is that it was one in a succession of similar gun attacks where many people were randomly killed.  Do we take the dates of all of the most recent attacks and list them and do the dates give us any real sense of what happened?  

            The diary lists the towns of the other shootings above - if the diarist had just listed the dates of those shootings would you know what he was talking about?

            These are all local tragedies that add up to an ongoing national tragedy.

  •  12/14 also marks it as a national tragedy, and (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Laurence Lewis, a2nite, Eric Nelson

    a potential turning point... the date when everything changed for those families may also be the date that things changed re: guns.

  •  I can completely understand where Greg is (3+ / 0-)

    coming from.  From now on, I will refer to it as the "12/14 shootings" or something like that.  The people in his hometown were the ones most directly affected by the events of that day, but we were all affected just like we were with similar events.

    I would also ask, as I have in a number of diaries, that people seriously consider the words they use in referring to Adam Lanza.  As he says right at the beginning:

    Words matter. Descriptions matter

    Sometimes "framing" does need to happen.  Lets talk about the act that happened on 12/14, what he did, the horrible affects, the broader issues.  But please, lets not throw around hurtful words to characterize someone who does something that Adam Lanza did.  

    And for my 2 cents, I will grieve for Adam Lanza and his mother.  What he did was terrible, but he still was a human being.  That is why I oppose the death penalty even for the worst of criminals.

    When you say it is "common sense" what you are really saying is "I don't have any evidence to back up my argument", because it is quite often neither common nor sense.

    by kaminpdx on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:09:08 AM PST

  •  Yeah, there are problems with calling it by its (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, kyril, Bruce The Moose

    date, too. By which I mean, my birthday is September 11th.

    •  pretty sure I already apologized for that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      La Gitane


      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:03:25 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm just trying to impress upon you that this name (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Greg Dworkin

        hurts people too. You can't get rid of pain like this, just spread it around.

        I think about people dying every time I fill out a form that needs my birth date. When I tell people it's my birthday they say "I'm sorry." Everyone who has any anniversary on a date that is synonymous with something like this is trying to celebrate whatever the happy thing is under a cloud. I realize you have a lot of good reasons for wanting to make the change but please seriously think about the side effects.

    •  Hear hear here (0+ / 0-)

      My birthday is September 10. My somewhat tone-deaf mother told me later, when it became clear that that was what we are going to call it, that I got, "lucky."

      To reduce crime, make fewer things against the law.

      by Bruce The Moose on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:13:37 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's my birthday too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and for that reason, I prefer "9/11" over "September 11," which enjoyed wide currency for the first several years. "9/11," by virtue of its form, is easier to associate with a specific event that happened only once (and more difficult to associate with any given person's birthday).

    •  you and markos (0+ / 0-)

      Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
      Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

      by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 06:07:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I understand the impulse (6+ / 0-)

    and of course if you live there, the shootings seem as huge as 9/11 seemed to those of us who lived in New York.

    I would say that reducing the events to a "number catchphrase" may have unintended consequences, too.

    When the buildings that fell stopped being "The World Trade Center" and became "Ground Zero," we lost the idea that they were actual buildings with living people working in them.  It ceased being a specific tragedy and became "everybody's tragedy."

    In a similar way, when the newscasters got tired of saying the long phrase "the September 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington," shortening it to "9/11" was also a way of distancing us from the reality and the horror.

    Dallas lived with the ignominy of 11/22/63 for a long, long time, but who among us is to say that it was good for a city that had all too easily embraced extremism and hatred needed some ignominy to bring it around?

    I guess I am just saying that what is to be earnestly hoped is that the event will be remembered, not forgotten.  I would bet that calling it after the place where it happened will make it last longer.  I agree with the diarist that the things we call things are very important, just wanted to present another POV.

    Still enjoying my stimulus package.

    by Kevvboy on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:14:53 AM PST

    •  I totally support the "12/14" designation for (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Greg Dworkin, Cali Scribe, Red Bean, koNko

      a variety of reasons, but you are correct that these is a significant danger of trivializing things.

      Why does every last political scandal STILL end in 'gate'?

      it smothers the seriousness of some things.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:42:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  As a native of next door Brookfield Center, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg Dworkin, koNko

    with childhood friends from Newtown (some of whom went to school in Sandy Hook), even though I moved away long ago, my heart aches for all of you.
    I agree that it's better to refer to "12/14" when we speak of that horrible act, so we can keep Newtown and Sandy Hook in our hearts as beautiful places we love.
    Keep up the good work.

    It's really about time i change my sig line...

    by stevenwag on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:15:06 AM PST

  •  The Christmas Kindergarden Tragedy (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, DefendOurConstitution

    20 kids never got another Christmas.

    My gun control petition was shot down.

    by 88kathy on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:16:27 AM PST

  •  Or the number for 12/14 (0+ / 0-)

    is 44.  For 1/1, it's 56...if one's talking about deaths by firearm in the US.

  •  12/14 (0+ / 0-)

    12/14 changed everything more than 9/11.  We did this one to ourselves.

    Apres Bush, le deluge.

    by melvynny on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:25:18 AM PST

  •  Thank you Greg. This must be hard to write so I (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Minnesota Deb

    appreciate that you do that and share it with all of us.

    How many more children must we sacrifice at the altar of the gun cult before we can get our Congress to free itself from the NRA's grip and pass some sensible firearm regulations?  Yes we must play nice, but it is not possible to simply not mention firearms as this national tragedy on 12/14 would not have happened if not for the easy access to firearms and a lack of regulations to make sure that weapons that fire too many rounds in a couple of seconds are readily available without any licensing, registration or even full criminal background checks on every firearm purchase/transfer. Licensing must include safety and storage for all firearms and all owners (yes, even responsible gun owners). If Nancy Lanza had kept her (legally purchased) firearms secure we would not have had this tragedy.  In the end this is about safety and accountability.  The present firearm regulations do not address either, sure there is bureaucracy for some firearm sales (especially in some states) but this is a Swiss-cheese bureaucracy that does not hold all gun owners accountable for what is done with their firearms.

    We presently have (on average) 11-12 people getting shot every hour, of which 3-4 people die every hour (nearly 10% are children).  There is no other product in our Country that injures/kills so many and gets away essentially unregulated (at the federal level were BATFE acts more like an industry promotion group and has no ability to enforce even the few regulations that exist because of lack of funding or even a director).  How many more hourly shootings do we need before we rise and demand our Government address this? Do we need to increase it to 15 people getting shot per hour (over 130k per year) or even more?

    I have not heard anyone tell me how any of those regulations in any way violate the Second Amendment.  I am told that even passing these would not have stopped 12/14, sure it will take time before the system has changed - perhaps even years - but that is no reason to do nothing. If these regulations (or others like limit on clips/magazines to 7-10) save 1 or two children at the next school shooting (and there will be more) it will definitely be worth it.

    This is not about suppressing anyone's rights and I have never advocated for making firearms illegal; this is about celebrating life, especially the lives of children.

    Then they came for me - and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.

    by DefendOurConstitution on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:27:45 AM PST

  •  In 1975, my boss went to a meeting of the (3+ / 0-)

    Japan/American Society.  He thought it was ironic that it was December 7.  No one in the office knew why.

    Time recedes.  

    9/11 means emergency.

    I think we need to come up with a more emergent name, I still haven't processed this.  Every day more meaning sinks in.

    My gun control petition was shot down.

    by 88kathy on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:30:01 AM PST

  •  For a long time now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Newtown will be associated with the horror. Gruesome acts have sad consequences. That can't really be changed or managed now that the worst has happened. How can you separate a place from the history of the place? What matters is that the people of Newtown aren't being judged when the name becomes an emblem for the tragedy. Why would anybody judge the families and kind, brave people who share their grief?

  •  I searched today for link to a dedicated 12/14 (5+ / 0-)

    website and didn't find one.

    As a therapist I totally like and approve of the '12/14' construction. Because it affected pretty much everybody who has learned about it.

    As far as the linked editorial, you do have to talk with both sides and on this issue I am determined to be the middle ground with an eye on 'what actually does work?".

    A post should be done later today on "Security, Deterrence, and Self-Defense' and both sides of the 'gun issue' are addressed with an overview of  how we keep ourselves safe and I don't believe we can talk about that without noting that guns CAN be a help but that attitudes about 'guns' can lead to a lot of undesirable consequences.

    It's all my 2 cents but this is a serious topic and it should be approached in a sober and critical focus on what will improve safety and reduce 'undesirable gun occurrences' not otherwise specified.

    I'm a cynical SOB but I am certain we can tighten things up and reduce a lot of needless mayhem. Without overly dramatic approaches.

    Lastly, as foul as I am about marijuana reform, I will strive to be very down to Earth and productive with regards to gun regulation discussion: specifically because gun control is a lot more important than marijuana control. Marijuana isn't killing your kids, friends, and neighbors.

    The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

    by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:37:43 AM PST

  •  We here in New York (5+ / 0-)

    at least some of us, use '9/11' as a way to distance ourselves from the memory. 'World Trade Center' hits too close to home.

    It gets easier over time, but there is a before and an after, and the helplessness of knowing the past can't be changed.

    Fuck me, it's a leprechaun.

    by MBNYC on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:38:16 AM PST

  •  Just another number (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    drmah, Bisbonian

    Numbers tend to be impersonal, whether they signify calendar dates or death tolls.  The tragedies that occurred at Columbine and Virginia Tech and Aurora and Newtown seem more impersonal and distant when referred to as the events of 4/20, 4/16, 7/20 and 12/14.  

    Things work out best for those who make the best of the way things work out.

    by winsock on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:39:54 AM PST

    •  None of the other event - none of them - (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      UFOH1, Minnesota Deb

      impacted Americans like Sandy Hook. It changed things.

      They are all anniversary dates, but Sandy Hook changed the national discourse and altered the political landscape.

      The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men.

      by xxdr zombiexx on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:50:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh yes to this: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg Dworkin
    Remember that the goal isn't to win an argument, it's to stop more children from being killed. If what you're saying or doing isn't furthering that aim, you're not learning from Newtown's experience and what happened on 12/14.
    Progress on issues gets exponentially more difficult once positions get staked out.  

    Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

    by a gilas girl on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:45:38 AM PST

  •  Tipped & rec'ed nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  One point of view I'll have trouble treating with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg Dworkin, a2nite, George Hier

    respect is the "Newtown was a hoax" crowd.  Already, I had a class discussion hijacked by a couple of kids who had seen the Alex Jones video the night before and had enough doubts raised in their minds they were beginning to question whether the massacre had really happened.

    If something similar happens to you, I recommend the snopes rebuttal of the video.

    When the union's inspiration /Through the workers' blood shall run /There can be no power greater /Anywhere beneath the sun /Solidarity Forever!

    by litho on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:54:58 AM PST

  •  Let's not (5+ / 0-)

    2012-12-14 was my daughter's fifth birthday. Let's not remember tragic events by the date on which they occurred. Other things happen on those days too.

    To reduce crime, make fewer things against the law.

    by Bruce The Moose on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:00:42 AM PST

  •  This brought to light a new (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg Dworkin

    reflection on this tragedy. As a school teacher, I tried to imagine myself in this position. I realized how painful it would be to have the name of the school I teach in, or the name of the town where I teach brought up again and again in association with such a sad and horrific event. I feel for the residents of Newtown, and can sympathize with a need for change, but don't think that 12/14 will catch on. The school and town names are too deeply embedded in our hearts and minds.

  •  I agree with many commenters (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lying eyes, a2nite, mcmom, Eric Nelson

    here that calling the tragedy 12/14 is a little problematic.

    I understand the dilemma, but this event really has changed the conversation in very important ways - kind of like how Occupy got even Republicans talking about the 99%.

    So I think it might be helpful to think of Newtown as the last tragedy - the one that finally changed this country so that no more families would have to suffer as the people of Newtown have. Of course it goes without saying that it is horrifying that we had to even let it come to this. But hopefully Newtown will be the last, and your town will be remembered as the one that changed everything.

    "Mediocrity cannot know excellence." -- Sherlock Holmes

    by La Gitane on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:13:48 AM PST

  •  The number reduces the tragedy (5+ / 0-)

    Many have already posted this opinion and I have to add my voice to theirs.  I always thought that reducing the terrorist attacks to '9/11' allowed the minimization and even fetishization of that date.  9/11 became a meaningless rallying cry that justified any and all actions and thus lost any and all connection to either the perpetrators or the victims.

    In addition, tragedies occur regularly.  Some are manmade (this shooting), some are natural (1908 San Francisco Earthquake), and some are a combination (Hurricane Katrina).  

    Are we only to acknowledge the latest tragedy that occurred on December 14?  In 1965 a hurricane in Pakistan killed an estimated 10,000 people.  Is that a greater or lesser tragedy?  In 2010 a fire at a garment factory in Bangladesh killed 29 people.  Should their deaths be ignored in favor of these children?

    Of course you don't intend any of this, but the result is the same.  I offer weak solutions that you have already rejected but something other than the date should be used.

    "The day 28 people were murdered at a school in Connecticut"

    "28 Dead"

    "Murder of 28"

    "28 Sacrifices to the Gun"

    "Tears for 28"

  •  Gonna run out of dates (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The long ugly history of humanity means atrocity will (and has) occur on every date- it will be impossible to keep them straight.

    Out of my cold dead hands

    by bluelaser2 on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:46:20 AM PST

  •  Some Wingnut Will Say That Graphic Looks Arabic (0+ / 0-)

    They say that about everything

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 10:50:22 AM PST

  •  Great diary (5+ / 0-)
    Remember that the goal isn't to win an argument, it's to stop more children from being killed.
    That's why I always call it the "Newtown gun massacre".  Not to push buttons--- I want people to remember what the problem actually is, so we can work together to solve it.

    Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

    by nominalize on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 11:00:36 AM PST

  •  Meh.. It's More About WHEN Will (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    congress take serious action regarding our hideous gun violence/death problem-- not what to name this particular rampage killing.

    What about the others? VA Tech, NIU, Tucson..etc, etc, do they get special names, too?

    "The 1% don't want SOLUTIONS; they've worked very hard the last four decades to get conditions the way they are now".

    by Superpole on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 12:45:03 PM PST

  •   NRA: "isolated incident" & "Lone shooter".. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ..was the meme that the NRA et al. spent the first few days (and continues) pounding home: 'Lanza is deranged; It's mental illness of a few, so why should all gun owners give up liberties for the acts of a few.'

    That this tragedy must be recognized as one single town or one violent individual as if gun violence is a problem of just that particular circumstance and down playing the widespread causes which still exist, has been the LaPierre types response over the years.

    Acknowledging that ~300+ million weapons with virtually no limits to access is a national problem for the whole of us, and 12/14 helps to identify it that way imo

  •  Call it what it was. The Kindergarten Massacre. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Hopefully a last straw if there was one to American gun violence.

  •  There is also the very real issue people who want (0+ / 0-)

    or need to sell their homes in the area are likely having.

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 01:42:10 PM PST

  •  Cailling it 12/14 (0+ / 0-)

    I'll do it. A very good idea.

  •  My thoughts have run to your involvement .... (0+ / 0-)

    as a pediatrician, you may have known and treated many of our littlest angels.

    Your grief could surpass mine as a doctor that may have brought these young into the World.  I cannot stop hurting.  

    I cry.  

  •  well... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    part of the reason that the country was so deeply affected was that Newtown is a "safe" "respectable" place where "these kinds of things don't happen".  

    so I feel there is some value in referring to the town name

    Politics is like driving. To go backward put it in R. To go forward put it in D.
    Drop by The Grieving Room on Monday nights for support in dealing with grief.

    by TrueBlueMajority on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 05:57:22 PM PST

  •  It is important to have open dialogue (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg Dworkin

    And to understand what different people think, to understand their concerns, listen to their ideas and convince them.

    But at the end of the day, what's most important to actually accomplish change and when that involves people unwilling to compromise and those that subvert the open process to defeat it, we also must be willing to "stand our ground" so to speak or we fail to stand-up for the victims and for a civil society.

    So I think it's just as important to define the outcomes we want and some clear objectives to accomplish, and then negotiate and adjust, but not to lose sight and not to quit until things get done.

    I have no doubt that some actors, particularly the NRA, will use every tactic and trick to protect the status quo or grab more ground and defeat any gun control measures because that is what they do and get paid for and they will use as many convenient fools as they can muster, including fair-minded opponents.

    That should not be allowed to happen.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Sun Jan 27, 2013 at 09:33:42 PM PST

  •  Yes, Words Matter (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Use the correct word MURDER instead of maassacre, killed, victims, and shooting. Replace those words, in italic blockquote, with MURDER.

    Words matter. Descriptions matter.
    For example, I don't personally refer to the
    MURDER of 20 first graders and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012 as "the Sandy Hook
    MURDERS" although others do. ...

    Here's another issue to be aware of, and Newtowners struggle with it. Is the number memorialized 20 (the children), 26 (

    MURDERED at the school), 27 (the victims, including Nancy Lanza)? It's never 28, though that's the number of
    MURDERS we recorded on 12/14. I promise you, the answer to that question is not an easy one to answer, though 26 is the most commonly seen number. There were 27 MURDERS, 26 MURDERS at Sandy Hook School.
    Yes, I agree words matter.
  •  40 Little Feets (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Greg Dworkin

    I wrote this poem in remembrance of the victims of 12/14.

    40 Little Feets
    By John C. Kojak

    Night fell upon Newtown on a cold chilly morning in December, a day that everyone there will always remember. The shadow of a dark knight had traveled from mountains west, far, far away. It came looking for innocent souls, and used a crazed youth to take twenty six of them away that day. Principals, teachers, mothers and wives, young boys and girls with big playground eyes. Two to the chest, one to the head, bang-bang-bang, and they were all dead. Nevermore the pitter-patter of 40 little feets, bouncing off the walls in the halls like joyful drum beats. They sleep softly now under the dirt, but you can only bury their bodies, not the hurt.

    There were so many, but to name only a few. There was Charlotte Bacon, the little ginger in her new pink dress and boots, what a hoot. James Mattitoli, everyone called him J, he loved hamburgers, and bacon, but his mom’s French Toast the most. Ana Marquez-Greene with her big grin, she will surly smile when she sees her family again in heaven and wonder where they’ve been. Caroline Previdi--silly Caroline, and Madeleine Hsu, the shy girl who loved dogs, I am sorry that we couldn’t protect you. The teachers tried, and many died. They flung themselves at the madman to no avail, and tried to use their flesh as a shield, but the bullets tore right through them as the gunman refused to yield. Poor kids, they should be outside playing, or coloring pretty princesses and unicorns in their books, not lying in pools of blood at Sandy Hook.

    At least they are free, free of this terrible place. What do we, the living, do now? The one who can’t be named was clearly insane, but who to blame, him…them…us? The NRA can’t even understand why there is any fuss. First the bullets came for our presidents, then our kings, and now our children. How long before we confess that Bushmasters and AR-15’s aren’t really any good for game like deer, but great for human beings, especially, horribly, for pre-teens it seems. Please hear their pleas and stop the madness, this gun craziness is bringing much too much sadness. They are looking down upon us now, like the sun through broken clouds, can’t you hear them softly cry as they ask—mommy, mommy, mommy…why?

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