Why Are We So Angry?
Former NFL player Will Smith, 34, is dead after a Saturday night car accident in New Orleans. But the car wreck didn’t kill him; another motorist did that, with a handgun, following their collision…in an apparent case of what we’ve come to call “road rage.’’
Yeah, it’s so commonplace that we have an alliterative nickname for it. Indeed, when New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu reflected on the death of Smith, who helped the Saints win Super Bowl XLIV, he said he was “shocked and saddened.’’
But in truth, aren’t we far more “saddened’’ than “shocked’’?
I’m not interested in offering a screed against gun ownership. Nor am I interested in offering a screed against gun control. “Gun safety’’ is something we can all agree upon, I am sure, as “gun safety’’ is a concept that can be valued by both those who point out how many Americans die in shootings and those who cite how many crimes are prevented by responsible gun ownership.
Nor am I interested in the politicizing of the debate. There is money to be made and support to be gained by candidates taking a side, and that money, support and ultimate power likely trumps whatever the candidate might truly believe. No, this should be a story about a man…and his death…and how we keep calling these things “senseless’’ when the inclusion of that term should be recognized as being redundant.
Saints head coach Sean Payton, Saints player Cameron Jordan and former Saints player Deuce McAllister are among the many who are calling the death of their former team captain “senseless.” Saints communications director Greg Bensel tweeted, “These senseless killings in our city must stop. Let’s all rally now in earnest in Will Smith’s honor and in his name and do something tangible.’’ Of course, when Mr. Bensel pleas for us to “do something,’’ he’s clearly struggling along with the rest of us as to what that “something’’ should be.
Mayor Landrieu seems right there with us as well, saying, “The senseless acts of violence have to stop. Traffic accidents should not lead to someone losing their life.’’
There’s that word “senseless’’ again — and then another sentiment that should not require expression: A traffic accident led to this? Yes, Smith was rear-ended while driving in New Orleans’s Lower Garden District. That crash pushed the Mercedes SUV he was driving into a vehicle in front of him, police said. The driver of the Hummer H2 that hit Smith, identified by police as Cardell Hayes (himself a former high school football star reportedly recruited to big programs), “exchanged words” with Smith. And then Cardell Hayes, 28, drew a handgun and shot Smith several times, police said, killing him. Hayes also shot Smith’s wife, Racquel, in the leg; she’s now hospitalized.
As police continue to investigate whether those involved knew each other, Hayes is arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
Smith played his entire nine-year career in New Orleans and was this spring scheduled to be inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame. Earlier Saturday, he’d gone on social media to post that he and Racquel were “Having a blast” at New Orleans’ French Quarter Fest.
A “senseless’’ ending to a life? Clearly. Yet another reason for us to “do something’’? Clearly.
A Second Amendment argument between different sides wishing to debate the original meaning and modern application of “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”?
Not so clear, at least to me. I don’t have easy answers. I don’t believe anyone does.
But you hear about “road rage’’ or similar conflicts in any circumstance and it drives me to ask a question that digs to the root of tragic incidents like this, a hard question: Why are we so damn angry?