are some things unforgivable?

Another mass shooting in the United States. Another avoidable tragedy. And please don’t reply with a “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” As Eddie Izzard says, the gun helps.

You’ve probably heard John Stewart’s monologue

or maybe John Oliver’s about the Confederate flag

(Why is this flag still being flown? Has anyone ever justified this in a reasonable way? As I like to say — everyone has a right to their opinion, but if you can’t make a valid argument it might be best to assume you’re wrong, or at the very least keep it to yourself. You certainly don’t need to expect me to “respect” it — especially if it’s ludicrous.)

confederate flag

Psychology Today ran a good article on racism and not only how pervasive it actually is but how white America avoids taking responsibility for it.

You may have even seen the clip of the families of the murdered addressing Dylan Roof directly, telling him that they forgive him.

Really? Less than 48 hours later, you forgive him?

Yes, I get it — forgiveness is about the forgiver, not about the forgivee. If you want to be able to carry on with your life and not be riddled by bitterness, anger and regret, forgiveness is important. But in your own heart. Is it really necessary, or even appropriate, to let someone off the hook like this? Aren’t some things actually unforgivable?

Grace, forgiveness, redemption, blah blah blah.

At least make him ask for it.

At least make him be sorry first.


Why can’t we do something about this? Why does it seem so necessary for Americans to have access to guns? Maybe if people saw their power in their right (and obligation) to vote, and to be educated and informed so as to actually vote to support their own interests in all of their complexities rather than knee-jerk reactions to single issues (abortion, taxes, manipulative political advertising paid for by billionaires) they wouldn’t live in fear of this, (what, exactly?) being taken away. Do people really believe we’re going to need to rise up some day in revolution against our own government? We CAN do that, every two years. How many people bother? Or barely bother?

Is it too much work? Too hard? Too “elitist”? This gives rise to the whole anti-intellectualism argument. I worry that Only Daughter, now 14, will succumb to the feeling that it’s not “attractive” to be smart, will start to dumb it down to attract even more clueless boys. But it’s so much bigger than that. How many people vote for the “regular guy,” the “guy they’d like to sit down and have a beer with” the guy who “doesn’t act like he’s smarter than everybody else in the room.”


You’re electing someone to run your government — local, state, national. Wouldn’t it make sense for that person to be the smartest person in the room? Wouldn’t it make sense for you as an informed citizen, doing your duty to your family and society, to research the candidates, to find out whose money is behind who, what they actually believe across all of the relevant issues, and make your careful choice? Isn’t that supposed to be the point of democracy in the first place? Instead people post ill-considered, abusive comments on news feeds and rant about “Obama killing the country” despite the statistics to the contrary. Ignorance, in all its forms, is embraced. Including racism. Including anti-intellectualism. Including bias and prejudice and hate that can’t be explained in any reasonable way.

Dylan Storm claimed that “they” were raping women and needed to be stopped. Who? The reverends and social workers and children in the building at the time? And what would he have been able to do with these opinions if he hadn’t been able to get his hands on a weapon?



I don’t forgive him. I don’t think anyone should, or anyone like him. At least not that easily. That soon. And certainly not without his remorse. It’s giving unforgivable behavior a pass, and it’s not helping.

1 Response to “are some things unforgivable?”

  1. June 22, 2015 at 8:13 pm

    From here, a long way away from the land of the free, it does seem that the USA would be better off with some greater restrictions on hand guns. Clearly, however, I don’t understand the history and the politics that has led to this situation – a national psyche that values an individual’s rights above the good order of the whole society. I would find it very difficult to live among such people as those who are expressing racist views, and hold an anti-intellectual position (especially if they are the law-makers!).

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