On James Brady and Good Riddance

On a terrible day in March 1981, James Brady thought the most dangerous thing he’d encounter was a hostile reporter.

As President Reagan’s Press Secretary, Brady walked alongside the President and was felled by a shot that left him paralyzed with a brain injury that changed him forever.

Jim Brady and his wife, Sarah, devoted the years after the shooting to advocating for gun control.  Their experience with gun violence led to them to a conclusion that guided their lives from that moment on.

Americans have a unique relationship with guns.  They’re much more a part of our culture than they are in other parts of the world and they’re a major player in our nation’s story.

I understand all that.  What I don’t understand is how, upon hearing the news of Jim Brady’s death yesterday, anyone could think “good riddance.”  And I really don’t understand how people can post such a sentiment as many times and in as many places as I’ve seen it in the past 24 hours.

I’d like to believe that the practice of anonymous posting is largely at fault here…that autographing one’s work would have a gentling effect.  But I’m not so sure.

Civil people have the capacity to hold together opposition to ideas and sympathy for the human condition.  It’s what makes us human.  And those of us who are increasingly concerned about the effects of living life on the polar extremes will have to start speaking up if we want to live in a world where ideas can be considered on their merits and those who utter them can be treated with dignity in life – and in death.