Esquire — What happened in a church in Charleston, South Carolina on Wednesday night is a lot of things, but one thing it’s not is “unthinkable.” Somebody thought long and hard about it. Somebody thought to load the weapon. Somebody thought to pick the church. Somebody thought to sit, quietly, through some of Wednesday night bible study. Somebody thought to stand up and open fire, killing nine people, including the pastor. Somebody reportedly thought to leave one woman alive so she could tell his story to the world. Somebody thought enough to flee. What happened in that church was a lot of things, but unthinkable is not one of them.
There are moments where my self-delusion gets the best of me and I convince myself that I’m a fantastic writer.
This notion, even by my lofty standards, is impressively self-absorbed.
However, it’s entirely necessary. Writers need to be egotistical.
Writers need to be egotistical because what a writer tells his or her readers is “I know you have your own thoughts in your own head about whatever it is that happened, but listen to me because my thoughts are more important than yours.”
There’s no arguing this, and I’d expect the only people who’d attempt a comeback are the self-unaware writers of the world.
Which, to be fair, there are too many to count.
Nevertheless, all I need to do when I convince myself that I’m a fantastic writer is read an article like this.
Charles Pierce’s article on the Charleston shooting is so astoundingly perfect that I can’t comprehend its existence. It makes me want to stop people on the street and read it to them Jehovah’s witnesses-style.
NOW, what’s unfortunate about this article—beyond the fact that it had to be written, obviously, as that’s a conversation for another time—is that there are people out there who will never read it because Charles Pierce wrote it.
Ask them why they won’t read it and they’ll tell you they don’t need to read it. They’ll tell you they know Charles Pierce’s politics, that they know what he’s going to say and how it won’t have any value.
(This is also what’s unfortunate about politics in general, but, again, that’s a conversation for another time.)
But what’s even more unfortunate than the existence of these short-sighted zealots is that—while it should most-assuredly be awarded every bullshit prize it qualifies for—we’ve read this article before.
Charlie is playing Mad Libs and it’s depressing as fuck think about.
Sandy Hook and Aurora and Fort Hood and Virginia Tech and…
Couldn’t any these places be substituted for Charleston and it would read the same?
Maybe that explains how he wrote it.
Listen, this isn’t a commentary on race and it isn’t a commentary on gun control—this is a commentary on fact.
The names and places and motives change, but the stories are all the same.
What happened in Charleston isn’t something worth just thinking and speaking about. It’s something worth doing something about.
We won’t do anything, of course, but at least the article is already written for next time.
Just like it was for Sandy Hook and Aurora and Fort Hood and Virginia Tech and…
(An attempt to lighten the mood of what became an uncharacteristically serious post: In his articles, Charles Pierce refers to the talking heads on Morning Joe as “Squint and Meat Puppet.” I don’t care if you hate Pierce or have never heard of Morning Joe—you can’t tell me “Squint and Meat Puppet” aren’t fantastic nicknames.)