I know she hates corgis, but there is a lot I liked about this post about this summer of shootings. Embarrassingly soon after the initial and completely human reaction of shock and horror when my sister called me to tell me what happened and make sure I was ok [my father had the unfortunate task of doing that in 2001], I thought about how this will once again incite Right and Left to make their respective cases for concealed weapons and tighter gun control. [And just to get this out of the way, I agree with tighter gun control, but it needs to actually be effective, enforceable and feasible, so I acknowledge we can’t just ban all guns outright but I don’t see a need for a civilian to own a semi-automatic weapon].
What I find more interesting is how different places seem to cultivate different types of whackjobs. Obviously, the crazies are everywhere. But some are more inclined to harm themselves, while some harm others.
Just off the top of my head, and ignoring instances of violence regarding ethnic or religions tensions, the West has:
- the Empire State building shooting by a disgruntled ex-employee on Friday morning
- 19 people shot between Thursday evening and early Friday morning across the South and West sides of Chicago
- the Texas A&M shooting earlier in August
- James Holmes, The Dark Knight Rises shooter in Aurora, CO in July
- a guy who beheaded and a little bit ate someone on a Greyhound bus in 2008
- Fritzl, the Austrian guy who imprisoned and raped his daughter for 24 years [discovered in 2008]
- Jaycee Lee Dugard, who was kidnapped and imprisoned and raped for 18 years [discovered in 2009]
- an astronaut who may or may not have worn a diaper when she attempted to kidnap the girlfriend of a co-worker for whom she had more than professional feelings in 2007
- an entire network devoted to crimes and investigations [Investigation Discovery], which debuted in 2008
As someone pointed out to me, Japan has “suicide forests and tentacle porn.” And as a liberal of Pakistani descent posted on facebook, “Begining to think its not just guns; its white people” [sic].
Why do we inflict our crazy on others?
This was another interesting podcast I listened to recently, again from American Public Media’s On Being series, that discussed American democracy specifically, but I think the sentiments can be more broadly applied to Western non-totalitarian societies.
Well, what are the duties — that was one of the great questions that takes us all back, and if we can separate it out from all the right- or left-wing rhetoric, just step back into our independent mind for a moment and don’t worry about whose side you’re on or who’s good or — what are the duties that are implied by our rights? We know the rights we have. We know their words. What duties do we have? That is a question I would invite people to think about without any political agenda in their mind. And when you think about that together — and I think that’s the thing I would say we really need is — from each other is philosophical friendship, we need that people come together to think. Not action groups, those are there, waiting, but thinking groups, because out of good thought will come right action.
We are lucky to have rights granted and protected in writing by our governments, and we have forgotten our corresponding obligations to society. We are seemingly incapable of taking responsibility for choices we make, or of accepting with grace that some things are just beyond our control. We have become entitled, selfish martyrs.
People will find a way, through illegal purchase of weapons or making homemade bombs or fashioning shivs out of toothbrushes. Tighter gun control, while a good idea on its own, is not likely to solve the problem as long as we believe that we are owed, and owe nothing.