Why “Not Politicizing” Is Still a Political Act

After every deadly shooting rampage, Newtown, Connecticut’s horrific massacre being no exception, there are cries for gun control, and even louder cries to not politicize the incident. But don’t let anyone fool you – even the choice to “not politicize” something is, in itself, a political act. In fact, in some ways, not attaching political value to something and forbidding an event from being part of public discourse might be even more political than “politicizing,” as it is an attempt to silence dissent.

Doing or saying nothing is never apolitical. There’s no such thing. It may be easier and ultimately less productive than participating, but it doesn’t remove you from the political system. By withdrawing your own right to state or develop an opinion, you wind up supporting the dominant narrative, becoming complicit with how the powers that be are choosing to run things. Sometimes that’s the right approach and sometimes it’s the wrong one, but it’s always political.

Every time you pay to see a gory movie, that’s political because you’re supporting the notion that violence equals entertainment. Every day that passes where you don’t discuss the ongoing wars with your peers, that’s political because it implies that you don’t care. Every time you use your trendy smart phone manufactured in sweatshops, that’s political because it indicates you value a gizmo over working conditions abroad. All sorts of things that you might never give a second thought to are political. In short, it’s ALL political.

Inaction speaks louder than words. For as many people speak out and try to change things, exponentially more say nothing. When the majority opinion is “no stated opinion” that is a collective approval to give authority on the matter to those who already maintain power. In that sense, “not politicizing” ends up sounding a lot like voting for the incumbents.

A lot of this confusion over what constitutes “politics” stems from the fact that people are turned off by politicians. They don’t like the lies, they don’t like the partisanship, and they don’t like the decisions being made on their behalves. Therefore, they decide that they must not like politics in general, unaware that their entire lives are political. In actuality, disliking politics as usual is all the more reason to speak and live your own political values and truths.

Ultimately, whether or not you want to debate gun control following a tragedy is a personal decision. Just don’t pretend that the choice to refrain is any less political. When you say, “Don’t politicize this,” purposefully or not, what you are effectively saying is, “I prefer business as usual.” You can never be “above” politics, but you can find yourself beneath them.


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Lori Ann Hone
Lori Hone5 years ago


Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

It would be good to control guns and shooters at least as much as motor vehicles and drivers. Some should not ever drive a motor vehicle. Some should not ever shoot a gun. But, it is also needed that we deal more effectively with mental illness and with poverty than we do. Poverty provokes violence--usually domestic violence. An employer of last resort program to provide a minimum wage community service job to everyone who wants to work and can't land a better job on their own would give everyone a chance to earn a modest living doing something constructive. That should help them feel calmer with more self-respect, and less inclined to hit anyone.

Jane R.
Jane R.5 years ago

" Armed teachers? Why not at least give them the option?"

Because you don't pay teachers enough. Concealed carry, shooting other humans, sometimes a student,...that is not what we studied when we majored in elementary education. There is no way that I'd carry a loaded weapon in a room full of children.
The thought is so irrational, so different from why we went into teaching that thinking about it seems like a science fiction novel.

People who suggest that teachers carry loaded weapons must live in an alternative universe.

Tammy B.
Tammy B.5 years ago

Ok so I say talk about gun control if you have solutions that is positive solutions to the problem. Laying the fact that it happens in the lap of the president is very lame and weak and counterproductive on your part. I was taught if you see a problem and do nothing you are a part of that problem. We all need to take personal responsibilty for this and not ever lay blame. It's the only way to work it out-together. Keeping in mind I don't even like the president. Right is right.I will keep on insisting my kids communicate with me, instilling openness and love into all our families. What will you do?

Jennifer U.
Jennifer A5 years ago

It's true, unfortunately even people who choose to remain apathetic to political concerns are still making a political statement. The logic behind this statement made me want to get more into politics for the fact that knowledge is power and if I'm forced to participate in political events, I'd rather be educated about it than not.

Paula M.
Paula M5 years ago

This article reveals a sad truth that is characteristic of too many politically-motivated types: when political ideology becomes the core of one's life it becomes almost impossible to separate anything from politics. To such a person it is a "political act" to refrain from politicizing a tragedy because in his world every action (even watching a movie) is fraught with political significance.

There is no viewpoint more apt to dehumanize those with different political viewpoints, as it denies any space for life outside of politics.

Dale Overall

What is it with all these people with no visible profiles, for example, scott h complains about "bigotry"...that in his living situation he wants a gun to defend himself because in his small apartment hand to hand fights are deadly. No, I haven't experienced this situation but it doesn't change my views which are hardly "bigoted".

By the way, assuming others don't flag Scott D for insensitivity (his comment re: laying out the bodies of children, taking a photo and adding this to the Brady gun control website) comment is down below (from Hell, presumably?) at Dec 16, 3:07 a.m. I just posted a link to his comment on the Facebook Brady site for people to shake their heads at. I won't flag his comment but others should let it stand as evidence of the insensitive and callous opinions of some gun advocates. Best we know where some really stand and learn from it. He also has no visible profile. Wonder why?

Dale Overall

Stephen D asks us furr-in-errs (I am a friend of felines), why we outsiders/foreigners/aliens as Americans often label us (what do you think we are, the Borg?)...have a right to comment on your gun laws. Freedom of Speech...ever hear of that? Americans feel free to comment on the laws/policies/actions of other nations around the world all the time,smugly telling us how superior you are to the rest of the masses living outside your shores. We are simply returning the favour...so get used to it as we are very used to the voices of Americans telling us how to do things your way. (Some Americans that is). So I don't vote in your country...doesn't mean that I don't have an opinion. Americans don't vote elsewhere but that never stops them from expressing opinions. You don't even have a visible profile, just a smiling face.

As for your suggestion of laying out the bodies of the murdered children in the shape of a gun...what kind of mind thinks up something like that? Guns R Us No Matter What The Cost?

Scott haakon
Scott haakon5 years ago

False security in the bigoted view that nothing bad will happen. I know that is my small apt the a fight will be hand to hand quick and deadly. I accept that. Because it is the reality.
Now perhaps you have never had the experience of that kind of fight. YOU SHOULD! Your attitudes would change instantly. Now add a gun in my hands and there is less chance of a fight. An a better chance of the criminal being arrested. And most important I would be able to go back to my video game! And the cookies, with hot chocolate!

Kathy M.
Kathleen M5 years ago

Contact the NRA now!!


Use these web sites to contact them yourself.

Feel free to copy, edit or whatever, my letter to them, which I sent to both web sites -- let's inundate them with emails!! . . . . .
What will be your response to the Newtown CT shooting -- more assault weapons for kids? for teachers? Get off your high horse & participate in meaningful discussion about bringing legislation to end senseless gun violence to the table.