Buss: The condoning of cowardice

Kaitlyn Buss
The Detroit News

When I was a little kid, I used to wonder what the world would be like if good was actually bad, and bad was actually good. If right was wrong and wrong was right.

Well, now I know.

In the aftermath of the tragic Parkland shooting, moral norms that have guided our American society through evil and tragedy — even through past mass shootings — seem to have been turned upside down.

Qualities traditionally considered “good” — bravery, sacrifice, even just fulfillment of basic job duties — are apparently no longer necessary in the face of evil. Instead, some thought leaders tell us that we’re not to go too hard on those who display cowardice and fear. They justify this moral relativism by arguing that “guns are too scary” to confront in traditional ways.

Good thing our grandfathers didn’t feel that way in the face of the Nazis’ guns 70 years ago, or many of us might not be here.

Something has changed following Parkland. The overwhelming narrative has been to assign moral agency to inanimate objects: the guns. Everybody else, and the morality of their action or inaction, is somehow irrelevant.

Of the astounding failures by law enforcement leading up to and during the Florida massacre, perhaps the most egregious was that Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Scot Peterson hid outside the school while the shooter gunned down students.

Had he gone inside immediately instead of four minutes after the shooting began, he probably could have saved lives. Yet faced with this troubling information, one Parkland student David Hogg defended the inaction. And while he’s only one student, the predictably disappointing cable news media have made his point of view the defining meme for the moment.

Peterson, “just like every other police officer out there at heart — is a good person. He didn’t take action in this event, and I can’t explain why,” said Hogg, who has made frequent MSNBC appearances since the shooting. “Who wants to go down the barrel of an AR-15, even with a glock?”

Not everyone. But a police officer who’s trained to do so, and whose assigned post is under fire, should be willing to at least try.

Peterson’s rectitude has been defended by others who claim that the “good guy with a gun” couldn’t stop the bad guy with a gun, and therefore armed officers aren’t the answer to stopping school shootings. But he doesn’t get to be the “good” guy with the gun unless he had proven he was willing to actually be good. That involves going to every length to stop the shooter and protect students — his most basic duty.

Otherwise he’s just a guy with a gun.

In another instance of insanity during the CNN town hall on gun control, NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch was recounting how a rape victim had wished she had a gun on her during the assault.

The response from the crowd, which was largely Parkland students and parents? Boos! They booed the rape victim who wanted to be able to defend herself!

Is their concern that shooting a rapist might not be appropriate, or that it might be too scary to be able to actually defend oneself with a lethal weapon? I guess the better response in their mind would be to just let it happen.

So now a growing number of Americans seem comfortable with the position that courage and bravery are hard qualities to live by, and so, not expected even in an instance that cries out for them. We’re willing to give a pass to those too cowardly to stop evil, even if it comes in the form of an AR-15.

It’s a downright terrifying prospect for our future. Because no matter how hard gun control advocates want a world in which no one has guns, and no one is evil, that world will never exist. We will always need good guys — those who are actually “good” — to stop the bad.