fr_defenestrato: (armaments)
"The gunman blamed for the deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history had previously been accused of stalking two female students at Virginia Tech and had been taken to a mental health facility in 2005 after an acquaintance worried he might be suicidal, police said Wednesday. Cho Seung-Hui had concerned one woman enough with his calls and e-mail in 2005 that police were called in, said Police Chief Wendell Flinchum." (Adam Geller, AP)
fr_defenestrato: (cat frown)
Reposted from a comment by [livejournal.com profile] geckospot to a previous entry:

An Australian official basically said 'no surprises there, what with all of them Americans toting guns'. I'm not sure why we needed a world view of this. Mid-Eastern people blow themselves up by the truckload, Americans go crazy. What's more surprising is that he wasn't an upper middle class white boy.

Also and mostly, the radio yesterday (just your basic pop station) was asking how we can prevent this kind of thing from happening - again focusing mostly on the weapons - not focusing on the fact that some people just are not wired properly.


Yeah, that dude down under pissed me off too. At the same time, today's news of yesterday's shooting of Nagasaki's (Japan) mayor by a lobster (sorry, I couldn't tell if it was a mobster or a lobbyist, and they're equally deadly anyway) reminded me that Japan has a countrywide ban on personal firearm ownership, and as a result sees only a tiny little fraction of a percent of America's shooting deaths each year (a quick webhunt found figures for 1996: 15 gun-related deaths in Japan, 9,390 in the U.S.).

I DO believe that banning guns in the U.S. would cut the number of gun-related deaths way, way back. And I do not give full credence (i.e., only the Fogertys) to the rhetoric that "if the good guys were all armed the bad guys would, I dunno, go away or something." Frankly, the pro-gun folk who've responded to Monday's attack with the usual "If just ONE of those students had been armed..." really kinda piss me off: they're in Virginia, for fuck's sake, not Japan, and any one of those students could have been armed had he or she so elected, with the same unregulated ease that afforded Mr. Cho his own weaponry. But why the fuck would a college student bring a firearm to class? Jeebus cripes, people. This takes the "right to bear arms" to the border of the "responsibility of every citizen to bear arms," and I do not go there. Scary people live there.

However, I do also happen to believe that our present government, residual trappings of democracy notwithstanding, is scary-close to totalitarianism (really, what CAN you do anymore without asking permission and/or being minutely tracked and observed?); and I believe that, at least in theory, there are some things worth fighting and even dying for (though I'm not quite prepared to go die today in an attempt to rectify what I see as this country's ills); and I believe that no government has any business disarming me if I, as a citizen in good standing and of sound mind and body, wish to be armed (I do not so wish, as it happens).

So that leaves some kind of strategic intermediate plan. I do fault the NRA and gun enthusiasts (or parts thereof) for maintaining the charade that any attempt to keep automatic weapons out of the hands of psychotic felons with imaginary mothers is the first step on a slippery slope that ends with them naked and helpless in Gitmo. But I likewise fault the anti-gun lobby (or parts thereof) for supporting wholesale bans on personal gun ownership rather than attempting to enact sensible regulatory legislation... something that might look more closely at potential mental health hazards, for example. Despite my being pretty solidly pro-Second Amendment, I have always found it appalling that, just about everywhere in the country, the rules and regs for owning and operating a motor vehicle are far more stringent than those for owning and operating a gun.

Re regulation in general, many or most conservatives insist that all industries police theyselves better than the incompetent government could ever do. This is precisely where I differ most sharply from the conservative line. It seems SELF-EVIDENT to me that, given the tendency of human beings to suck (as attested to daily on the news and in the subway), any industry whose by-products are potentially hazardous—petroleum, construction, toxic chemicals, arms retailing—must be regulated to forestall both intentional and inadvertent actions by the industries' players that could put people at dire risk (tanker spills, collapsing bridges, cancer for toddlers, 33 dead in Blacksburg). I'm not saying there was anything currently in regulations that the Roanoke, Va., merchant who sold Mr. Cho the pistol five weeks ago ignored or neglected... but given sensible movement toward sensible gun control (not outright full bans), there might have been.

For fuck's sake, we have a federal government so completely owned by multinational corporations that they can claim, and have claimed, with a straight face, that there is no overwhelming scientific evidence establishing global warming as a real and present threat; that there is no such thing as repetitive motion disorder and any worker who claims to have it is a shiftless, lazy, fuck who needs to be fired now; that... oh, must I go on? It's so depressing how little the haves care about the have-nots.

There's one other issue I sorta wanna tackle, but I need to get back to work right now... that's the possibility that the modern world—advances in computing technology, for example—have made it easier for human beings with potentially lethal mental defects to lurk. To live a life without the critical gaze of anyone who might be in a position to (a) see just how fucked up one is, or (b) effectively make noise about it. I cannot categorically state that this is the case; I just don't know. But it does seem to me our society has been steadily drifting away from a sense of community—at least local community, of the sort where people used to watch out for their immediate neighbors (watch out for in both the "got yer back" and "early alert" senses). I'm interested in different viewpoints on this...
fr_defenestrato: (j'accuse)
There is no calculus to empathy for victims of homicide. Who knows why persons X and Y react the way they do? Who has the temerity to judge or rate those reactions? When 9/11 occurred I was taken by surprise both by my own tears (in the Metro, of all places) and by the reportage from my friend Chick that his wife Ellen had spent DAYS in tears, basically non-functional. That said, this time around I empathize with the terror of the situation in VTech but not exactly the carnage, the loss. For whatever reason, I am not upset or depressed. Some crazy fuck shot a whole bunch of people. Sorry, folks. Next!

I guess that makes me an asshole. (More and more things do, it seems. I wonder whether or to what extent my misanthropy is being shaped by my environment, as opposed to my consciously massaging it into shape, because it is the easy and sensible way to be.) But it doesn't mean I don't find what happened there just horrendously bad and wish that we as a society had some clue as to how to make such incidents stop. Unfortunately, one of the less pleasant things about the aftermath of the VA Tech carnage is the implication, in the press and in the blogs, that if you're not grieving, you're not a complete human being.

Whatever the reason (my heart or my shoes), the first quote from the White House dealing with this shooting made me livid: "'The president believes that there is a right for people to bear arms, but that all laws must be followed,' spokeswoman Dana Perino said."

It's not because Mr. Bush's first Hestonian reaction is a rush to defend the Second Amendment against the inevitable hordes of screaming liberal anti-gun nutcases. (Indeed, I do not believe the incident in Blacksburg sheds any new, relevant light whatever on the issue of gun ownership rights v. gun control. Whatever arguments (sensible or non-) can be made regarding the ease with which Mr. Cho legally acquired his firearms are the same arguments that proponents of gun control have been making for decades—let's have some more restrictions/waiting periods/etc.—and that gun aficionados have just as long been decrying as the harbinger of the end of civilization as we know it. I personally would prefer a system under which a nervous referral by an instructor to a school psychologist suggesting a troubled and/or unstable young man would have somehow have preempted his acquisition of firearms; but I admit I have no great suggestions for implementing such a system that would also satisfy my requirements for upholding both the right to bear arms and privacy rights. Whadayagonnado?)

No, what makes me apoplectic about that quote from the White House is that, more so than any other word or action in recent memory from this President's administration, this sorry statement points up in no uncertain terms that this President hasn't the slightest fucking clue in the world who the people of the United States are, and would give a flying fuck about them if... well, if somebody shot them. It shows that not only the President but every handler or buffer between him and the press found it a reasonable response to respond to a relatively big and nasty mass murder with a fucking policy statement.

Today, of course, he spoke repeatedly—including remarks at a memorial service in Blacksburg—about healing and courage and prayer (oh, my!), reestablishing for the 418,000th time of his regime that religious faith is a requisite quality of every true Amurrkin, and maybe getting a good word or two in for the prompt resumption of untenable retail shopping.

Next up, just wait: Reliable sources indicate Mr. Cho was financed and given orders by Iran.

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