Profiting from Tragedy

Profiting from Tragedy December 14, 2012

As always, when some individual or groups pull out their guns and mow down innocent victims, as happened today in Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there are people who will try to profit from it.

I'm not talking here about the makers and sellers of guns, although they do indeed profit both at the front end, arming the killers, and then in the aftermath as still more people purchase guns in the vain hope that adding still more guns to the mix will make them safer.

No, I am talking about the lowlife pseudochristians who say things like this:

That anyone could be foolish enough to say such things is sad enough. That some will applaud when such things is sadder still.

Europe is far more secularized than the United States is. Canada is a lot like us but has socialized health care. Japan is hardly a bastion of American Christian values. Yet we are the ones that continue to see bloodshed on our streets and in our schools. If there were a correlation to be made, perhaps it would be that having more fundamentalist Christians who promote pseudoscientific nonsence and dogmatic absolutism leads to a rampant self-righteous individual-against-the-world attitude which is bound at times to erupt in violence. But those who recognize that there seems to be such a correlation seem, for the most part, to have the sense to realize that when people are in shock and heartbroken is not the time for such discussions – although we desperately need to have them.

I am not sure what profit people like Eric Hovind, Bryan Fischer, and Mike Huckabee hope to gain most. Fans for their twitter account. Attendance in their churches and money in the offering plate. Votes for their party of choice. Maybe just the deflecting of blame away from their own absolutist approach to life which engenders hatred and violence – from the evil within themselves. It sickens me that anyone would use deceitful tactics in the midst of tragedy to seek their own selfish gain. I hope it sickens you too.

Let us mourn. And then let us act, not in ways that clearly have nothing to do with the matter, but in ways that might actually make a difference. Because if we can't talk in the midst of a tragedy, and don't talk after, then we are unlikely to do anything that might prevent the next one.


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  • Jim West

    nicely said

  • nanbush

    Thank you.

  • Susan Burns

    Dr. McGrath, I think these fundies genuinely believe what they are saying.

  • Rebecca Trotter

    Thank you for saying this.

  • Stating the Obvious

    Hovind and his dad are utter sh*tbags.

  • I don’t mean to be rude, and I actually happen to agree with what you’ve said here, but using the rhetoric that you have in this post (as well as that which lovejoyfeminism used in the one you’ve linked), is not going to help anyone arrive at a talking point. I suppose you’re upset and reacting. But you may want to consider your wide audience. People deeply disagree on things, and, even if you’re right (which, like I said, I think you are), neither Hovind’s language nor the language you’ve used here is going to get the conversation anywhere. I do respect you, I just expect more from your posts than the run-of-the-mill reactionary rhetoric.

    • Hi John. Thank you for your comment, which I did not find at all rude, but I did find vague. I am not sure exactly what in my blog post constituted “run-of-the-mill reactionary rhetoric.” Could you perhaps be more specific?

      • Hey. Yeah, sorry for the vague response. I guess I follow an ethic which says not to link someone’s twitter post to my blog and call them a lowlife pseudochristian. It may be true, but there are much more constructive ways to move forward than character attack. Maybe the guy was having a bad day, feeling attacked for his beliefs. Maybe not. But I don’t think it is helpful language. And saying things like this “[…] Attendance in their churches and money in the offering plate[?] Votes for their party of choice. Maybe just the deflecting of blame away from their own absolutist approach to life which engenders hatred and violence […]” is not constructive in any way. It’s just an attack that will work for no benefit, other than the construction of bitterness. Again, I don’t mean to be rude. Just things I noticed that aren’t helpful. It would perhaps be better to email those guys directly and tell them, in a constructive manner, what it is that they’ve said that has offended you. If we want a better world, we need to at least pretend to want the best for other people, at least avoid mocking them. If we do want to build more walls and tear up more relationships, we can just tear people down with our words. You are a teacher.

        • Thank you for clarifying. On the private vs. public response issue, I strongly disagree. I do not think that, when politicians and religious leaders say outlandish things in the name of their faith, scholars ought to sit by quietly and not comment publicly on the use those people are making of the Bible, for instance. Why should those who are typically less well-informed have a public soapbox but those with expertise say nothing publicly? I don’t understand the reasoning behind this point of yours. Such instances this are, as we say in education, a teachable moment.

          As for the strong words, perhaps you are right. But when someone takes the murder of children and uses the occasion to depict God as a monster in the process of trying to score points with their supporters, are strong words not appropriate? If not in such circumstances, then are they ever?

          • I agree, something must be said. But yes, they can be said in another way. A good old fashioned direct rebuke, done in humility, is much more effective than sarcastic character attack. But, again, I agree with your point.

  • On the other side of the coin, were the ‘celebrity’ tweets out of Hollywood that ranted against good Christians and constitutional rights. So embarrassingly vile that FOX has replaced their anti-Christmas “Family Guy” cartoon show with something less insensitive at this time of comfort and joy. Fearful I guess that they may actually insult some inferior demographic of society. God save us all.