The AP reports that Bailey Nicole Holt, a teen shot last week at a high school in a rural Kentucky community, was "the salt of the Earth." Of course, this is total bullshit. No one will ever really know Ms. Holt. She was only a child, and died long before her personality had a chance to develop and cohere. If she was honest, or kind, or mean, or even the suspect in a mass shooting—this would be of little significance because a child is far from the most total person a human can become. At the stage of Holt's death, one is still a loose affiliation of others rather than the concentration of a self that eventually emerges from the familial, communal, and national cloud. That is a part of the tragedy of Holt's death; the world will never really know her. The aunt steps in and says: She liked jeans, Converse shoes, AC/DC, and Van Halen. But how can the aunt use these rudiments to speak so confidently of what no one will ever see: a full and matured person?
The aunt does not stop there. She goes on and gets all religious. And here we approach that point at which US gun culture meets the religious sacrifices of an ancient civilization, like the Aztecs. She tells us the girl was certain of how "great our Lord and savior is." This statement, as reported by AP and other media outlets, is useful and meaningful as the image of a dark-robed woman carrying a child's body to the top of a temple to be burned for the flesh-smelling Gods. The horror is that there is no difference between how this child is presented in the AP report, and a gruesome death ritual.
Make no mistake, a news report that focuses on the character, short life, habits, and inchoate beliefs of a young person killed by another young person who had access to a gun is making nothing but a sacrifice of that death. But who is receiving this teen's body? The Christian God? No. It is the very earthly organization of the NRA.
A sacrifice is always a life surrendered to something that can't be solved, submitted to a total mystery. But it doesn't take much effort to see that the girl's death in Kentucky was nowhere near the mists of the unknown. It can indeed be easily explained and acted upon very effectively. The Aztecs did not have this advantage at all when their priests walked up the steps of the temple. For them, the mystery of the world was much, much greater. Those bright lights in the night sky were not matter in an intense state of nuclear fusion. The sky was filled with terrifying secrets. And it is for this reason the sacrifices of our day are actually more monstrous. We have the data, the hard facts, the actual solutions. But we have imposed the state of a spell onto millions in an otherwise disenchanted world.