Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Waiting Period

[Ed. Note: this is not political.

It has everything to do with a topic or two which is intensely political, but this piece itself and the thoughts expressed therein are not political at all.]


In many locations in these United States, although not all, and to varying degrees of strictness, there are laws on the books that govern how long someone should need to wait before purchasing some sort of firearm.

I’m sure there’s a fancy legal term for it, but if journalists are writing stories about it, it’s simply called a waiting period.

The idea is that between the purchase or reserving of a gun from a dealer and the moment when the purchaser may take possession of that gun, that purchaser needs to wait a set number of days, usually to allow a state government agency to run a background check and confirm that the purchaser is legally allowed to have that weapon.

The concept also exists regarding insurance policies – incidents which occur during a waiting period are not claimable. Also in the arena of business finance, wherein a company making an initial public offering of stock must keep quiet about it, so as not to articifially inflate the stock’s value. In that latter arena, that waiting period is also known as the “cooling-off period”.

In each case, it seems to me, that waiting period can be a useful tool to help people avoid doing something rash. Whether the rash activity is one of trying to succeed in business without really trying, or to get one’s hands on a weapon that can do physical harm … there are decisions that in the heat of certain moments might better be addressed without the red haze of wild emotion or avarice. Or at least they might more ethically be addressed.

Cooling-off period” is, I would judge, a tremendously apt term.


On Saturday, Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia was found to have died in his sleep, at a resort in Texas.

The 79-year-old judge had been a member of the Court since the late 1980s, and had been involved in many momentous decisions, decisions which have profoundly impacted American life and politics. As it happened, he had espoused “originalist” views of the Constitution and conservative takes on the issues that were being discussed as part of these decisions. I happen to have some very specific thoughts about those political views and about the way in which Scalia expressed them, but those thoughts are not germane to the topic that occurred to me Saturday afternoon, when I first heard the news.

As much as I didn’t really care for the man or his views, I tried to be a human being about his passing first. My first thoughts immediately flashed to the future makeup of the Supreme Court, even before a successor may be found, because eight Supremes (and particularly the currently-remaining eight) may decide cases in a different way than the previous nine. But I almost immediately felt badly about that, and concentrated on thoughts and prayers for Justice Scalia’s family and friends.

No matter how famous a person you are … no matter how much of a public figure you may be, and no matter what your effect upon the world and its mass-media current-affairs crucible … when you pass away, somebody else(s), some other human being(s) is (are) directly affected, and are thrown unexpectedly into the grieving process.

That grieving process is often illogical, it’s usually driven by emotion, and it sometimes results in things being said and emotions being expressed in ways that, thereafter, themselves require healing to take place. It’s a frightening and sad and angry time, and taking into account this knowledge aforethought, a lot of things are said and done that are understandable, if not immediately forgivable.

Previously, in this space, I had occasion to chronicle the passing of my college band director – and the reactions of the community upon which he had such an important influence – and the previous paragraph completely applied to that event. It was a rocky time, and people did make it through to varying degrees; but occasionally a few of us had to gently nudge the community as a whole and suggest, um, let’s consider the feelings of his family please, and let’s see if we can try to imagine what the world is going to look like after this immediate sharp stab of shock and grief has subsided, and perhaps even how our rash responses or actions might adversely impact it, yes?


Anyway, back to the current event: Justice Antonin Scalia died in his sleep Saturday.

Almost immediately after the San Antonio Express-News reported the judge’s death, wrote technology news and analysis website re/code, Twitter became the place where politicians and their proxies issued statements and began positioning the debate about his successor.

The news commentary website ThinkProgress noted, Mere moments after his death was confirmed, Conn Carroll, a key staffer for Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), promised Republicans would block anyone that Obama nominated[, on Twitter:] … ‘What is less than zero? The chances of Obama successfully appointing a Supreme Court Justice to replace Scalia?’”

And re/code continued, In the pre-Twitter era, both traditional and online publications would follow a predictable playbook for an event like this: Pre-reported obituaries first, followed by sober, restrained analysis. Anything that deviated from that would only show up in media’s margins, at least for the first few days. But now that people — journalists, politicians, celebrities and other influential figures with large audiences — can respond in real time, there’s a new kind of conversation that’s rapidly emerging.

Which, I thought, don’t make it right.

What’s a fella like me, with an opinion like that, to do?

Climb onto Facebook and post, of course.

I know. I spotted the gentle irony. (As a favorite media philosopher of mine once said, “I saw that one coming down Broadway with its doors open.”)


I did it anyway.

Okay, so I’m seeing a few of my FB friends posting thoughts … gentle thoughts, I must note … about the passing of Antonin Scalia, as it relates to the constitution of the Supreme Court going forward.

I have NO problem with these expressions. Especially as they have been, again, gentle, speculative, and in some cases elegantly stated.

The topic of the link below, though, I find substantively different. With the understanding that political people in DC need to get ahead of the curve, be prepared for tomorrow morning’s Meet-The-Press-like chat shows, etc etc … could *this* sort of expression not wait at least, say, an hour? Or 24?

In this case, there’s a difference between the social-media commentary of average persons and the policy-setting press releases of the legislative community.

The seeming Desperate Need for political professionals to pounce on this, in this way, at this speed, causes me to wonder if those professionals ever, EVER consider that the recently passed-on have *friends and family* who would like to focus on their loss, undistracted, for longer than, say, a few minutes.

These people.

Don’t know how in the world (at this point, in the era of instant online gratification and Twitter and the majority of humanity yielding to their knee-jerk reactions) one would regulate this sort of thing, but …

I wonder if there ought to be a waiting period.

February 14, 2016 Posted by | current events, Facebook, Famous Persons, government, Internet, news, politics, social media, technology, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment