Why Not the Vest?

October 28, 2018
Posted by Jay Livingston

Yesterday, Trump blamed the Dodger loss on the manager, Dave Roberts. He shouldn’t have taken out the pitcher.
Trump also blamed the slaughter in Pittsburgh on the Tree of Life syagogue. They should have had an armed guard.

Unlike many of Trump’s statements, these are not lies or untruths. They are counterfactuals about a single event; there is no evidence that can tell us whether they are accurate. It’s unlikely that a similar baseball situation will soon arise. And if, in some future fifth inning, a pitcher who is pitching well tells the manager that he’s tiring, and the manager thinks about replacing him, will anyone remember this game?

Mass shootings are different There will be more of them in our future — this is America after all — so we will continue to search for policies to reduce the carnage. The armed guard idea is very popular these days, especially among gun lovers — the people who want to increase the sale of guns.  After every mass shooting now, they tell us that the only solution is armed guards.

 I suppose it’s worth noting that the police who arrived at the synagogue were armed, heavily armed. They were also trained, well trained. Their training and weaponry exceeded that of any guard a synagogue might have had. Yet four of the officers were wounded. Two are still in the hospital. Were it not for their bulletproof vests, police officers too might have been among the fatalities.  And therein lies the answer —  bulletproof vests.

The assumption behind armed-guard policy is that we cannot do anything about the shooters. We cannot change their psychology, and we certainly cannot —  must not --- do anything to limit their access to extremely deadly guns. In that spirit, and using the same assumption, I am offering this modest proposal: All schoolchildren, all worshippers, all those who attend concerts or popular clubs, all spectators at movie theaters and sporting events — they should all wear bulletproof vests.

When you go into a synagogue, they usually have a large box so that you can pick out a yarmulke and tallit if you haven’t brought your own. Imagine if Tree of Life synagogue had also had a box of bulletproof vests. Or if Steve Scalise and those other Republican legislators had had the good sense to wear bulletproof vests when they went out on the field to play softball. Think of the death and injury that would have been prevented. At clubs, the person giving you the little bracelet or stamping your hand could also give you a bulletproof vest. Schoolchildren would have a bulletproof vest at home to put on as they leave the house for the schoolbus.

The NBVA membership would burgeon. States would pass laws promoting the manufacture and sale. Think of the variety as fashion designers get into the arena. Bulletproof vests for all occasions, in all colors. Cute, pink vests for girls to match the cute, pink AR-15s they can now buy (I am not making this up.).

Yes, some people may choose to walk around unvested. But hey, some people disable their car airbags and don’t use the seatbelt. If these risktakers get shot, we will make the same argument about bulletproof vests that our president makes about armed guards.

A vested society is a safe society. That will be one of the slogans. Or, “You can’t stop a bad guy with a gun, so make yourself less vulnerable.” OK, I admit it lacks the macho fantasy element of the good guy with a gun, but that’s true of “shelter in place” and other parts of “active shooter drills.”  Anyway, the goal is the same, and the vests will be more effective.

I have seen the future, and it is bulletproof vests for everyone. What a country.

Make America Great  — and Safe! — Again.


SociologySal said...

Great post, Jay. If only the vest lobby had millions of dollars to influence politicians!

brandsinger said...

"Trump also blamed the slaughter in Pittsburgh on the Tree of Life syagogue." No he did not.

Jay Livingston said...

“If there was an armed guard inside the temple, they would have been able to stop him,”

If the parents had taken their kid for polio shots, he wouldn’t have gotten polio. Of course, I’m not blaming the parents.

If the driver had been using his seat belt, he wouldn’t have died in that crash. Of course, I’m not blaming the driver.

If the gun lobby and their legislators hadn’t got rid of the assault rifle ban and other gun laws, the Pittsburgh massacre wouldn’t have happened. Of course I’m not blaming the NRA.


brandsinger said...

You should retract your distortion and recognize the shame of politicizing a brutal act of anti-semitism. No more "ifs" ... just admit your over-the-top, shameful statement. We'll forgive you. You're caught up in Trump-hatred and lost your moral bearings. You're not alone, but YOU of all people should be experienced enough to resist facile, mob reactions to tragedy.

Jay Livingston said...

Let’s see. It’s got the moral superiority. It’s got the personalized accusation. It’s got the anger. It’s got the attribution of ideas and motives not present in what was written. It’s got the absence of evidence. And of course it’s got the irrelevance to what I actually said; it changes the topic in a way that is almost Kellyanne-esque. Yep, it’s a genuine Brandsinger.

My point was that you were correct. Trump did not “blame” the shul, just as I was not blaming the NRA, the unbelted driver, or the anti–vax parents. The causes of death were, respectively, the bullets from the assault rifle and pistols, the car that crashed into the driver, and the poliomyelitis virus.

It seemed to me that Trump was trying hard not to say that he blamed the shul. But he could not keep himself from saying that they could have prevented the slaughter (“could have stopped him.”).