11 January 2011

Jon Stewart's take on the Gifford's shooting.

Picture from buddytv.com.

It’s hard to know what to say. Obviously the events this weekend in Arizona way heavily. Sadly it is a feeling that this country has experienced all too often and unfortunately for this show the closer 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 example of the day’s news excesses but it doesn’t really seem appropriate and clearly none of our correspondents feels like standing around reporting (with air quotes), pretending to be in Washington…at least I don’t think they do…Oliver?

(John Oliver, a British “correspondent” is shown in front of a green screen image of the Capital building, wearing pink pajamas with hugging panda bears) Yeah, no…you’re absolutely right, Jon. Yeah, no one wants to do this. No one. No one wants to do this so…can I go?

Before you go [What?] is there a reason you’re in your panda pajamas?

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. Can we remove the Washington, D.C. picture, Chuck? (the image is replaced with one of a bedroom, complete with Wham! poster and a portrait of the Queen) I’m in my childhood bedroom, Jon, where I’ve been rocking back and forth wondering why the country I’ve come to love so much finds itself struggling with these terribly violent tragedies.

Well, that certainly explains why you’re in Washington (meant to be “pajamas” I believe)although I still can’t really understand why it explains why you have on [b][i]adult[/i][/b] panda pajamas because…

Well, that’s a stupid question, Jon, because children’s panda pajamas would look absolutely ridiculous on me. They’d be too small.

(mumbled) What are you gonna do? (back to normal) So here we are again stunned by 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 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 f****** idea. You know, we live in a complex ecosystem of influences and motivations and I wouldn’t blame out political rhetoric anymore than I would blame heavy metal music for Columbine. And by the way that is coming from someone 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. 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 “something tangible”) then the horrors will end. You know, to have the feeling, however fleeting, that this kind of event can be prevented, forever. But it’s hard to feel like it can’t. You know, you cannot outsmart crazy. You do not 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. I mean it sounded pretty dark what I just said there, now that I reconsidered it in my own head. [i]Crazy people rule us all![/i] I don’t think that’s true, but.. and I do think it’s important for us to watch our rhetoric. But I do think it’s a worthwhile goal not to conflate our political opponents with [i]enemies[/i] if for no other reason than to draw a better draw a line between the manifestos of madmen and what passes for acceptable political and pundit speak. 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. 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 [i]is[/i] light in this situation. I urge everyone, read up about those who where hurt and or killed in this shooting. You will be comforted by just how much anonymous goodness there really is in this world. You read about these people and you realize that all these people that you don’t even know, that you have never met are leading lives of real dignity and goodness. You hear about crazy but it rarer than you think. 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. If there is real solace in this I think it’s that for all of the hyperbole and vitriol that’s become a part of our political process when the reality of all that rhetoric, when actions match the disturbing nature of words, we haven’t lost our capacity to be horrified. 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 reality to our rhetoric more often because the reality of dangerous rhetoric ,I think, is even those that speak hyperbolically, I think that 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 is 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 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, Denis Leary will come out here, he and I will most likely insult each other playfully, and then tomorrow, you know, we go back to what we normally try to do, which is highlight absurdity in a comical way which 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.

Video here.