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Tragedy and fantasy

April 21, 2007

Like everyone not living in a cave, I’ve been inundated, these past few days, by news coverage of the Virginia Tech massacre. For the students, faculty, alumni of Virginia Polytechnic University and the community of Blacksburg, the tragic events of that day will live on well after the rest of us have forgotten. 

What can anyone say to the families of those whose loved ones lost their lives at the hands of a madman to ease their pain? While some of us offer condolences, others attempt to use this tragic loss of human life to advance an agenda.

Perhaps the most ridiculous agendas put forth are those by the Korean press. They reported of uneasiness on Korean college campuses. That uneasiness spread to Korean communities all over the US. Korean parents worry of their childrens’ stress of coping with not only a foreign culture, but a band of wild Americans bent on exacting revenge on Korean people for the murders committed by a deranged young man that happened to be of Korean descent. As I posted on my friend Lost Nomad’s blog, Koreans practice collectivism in their day to day lives. Collectivism is no better than communism and it breeds nasty things like racism (if you don’t believe that, think collectivism as in Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson). If Americans took revenge on Koreans after a lunatic who happened to be Korean killed 32 people at a university, there shouldn’t be a Muslim left alive in the U.S. after 9/11 — and to date, there has been no Muslim genocide in America. A popular joke says that’s because we haven’t played cowboys and Muslims yet. Let’s pray that the melting pot of the world doesn’t ever sink into internal armed conflict. The war of words fought daily between political parties is bad enough!

The Korean press also felt it necessary to run a story full of correspondence from Americans, telling Koreans not to worry about revenge — this tragedy was caused by a sick individual, a lost soul. Indeed, the vast majority of Americans do not practice collectivism. The US is a country made up of individuals. We are a people who want other people to judge us individually, based on the content of our character rather than on our appearance, or our national identity. There are some in this country who practice group-think, but the majority of us do not (perhaps with the exception of team sports!).

Still other postings have tried to find a reason for the carnage. “Why?” “How could he do something like that?” The “why” cannot be used to take  the emphasis off the fact that it happened and that an individual was responsible one of the largest mass murder rampages in US history. From the midst of all the hand wringing, I found this thought-provoking comment on a blog I peruse upon occasion.

The US news media, in search of ever more ratings, released what can only be described as a lunatic’s manifesto before the first funeral. I can only imagine how comforting it must have been to the families of the victims to watch the spectacle of the murderer of their son or daughter brandishing weapons and blaming everyone else for the actions he would soon be taking.

Worse than the news media, politicians and lobbying groups were quick to put their spin on this tragedy of epic proportion.  With families just beginning to mourn, what better time to push an agenda? It wasn’t the speed with which they descended upon the news media that surprised me. Indeed, it was the fact that they actually had time to wipe the saliva from their chins before the camera started recording.

The pro-gun lobby claimed that if everyone would have had a gun, Cho might have only killed one or two before somebody got him. They claimed that the mayhem was made possible by the people responsible for the no guns on campus policy and they should be punished for their mammoth error in judgement. Even if armed, how many would have the courage to stalk a deranged killer and risk being his next victim? In a standup comedy routine, Richard Pryor once commented on how quickly you can go from macho man to dead person.

Anti-gun lobbyists pounded their agenda… we need more gun control laws, they said. If the laws were tougher, this never would have happened! And by God, new, improved laws will keep this sort of thing from happening, ever again. The sad fact is that there are more than 270 federal gun control laws on the books today. Not one of those laws prevented a single, mentally ill individual, from committing a heinous crime.

I remember when Art Buchwald labeled Kennesaw, GA as “Gun Town USA” after they passed a city ordinance mandating that every head of household own and maintain a gun. Contrary to the dire predictions made by Mr. “I just died” there were no gunfights in the streets. Despite quadrupling in population the city has a crime rate much lower than the national average. And by the way, the city has been murder–free in each of the 25 years since passing that ordinance.

This week, I’ve heard calls for outlawing guns. If we outlaw gun ownership, they say, we’ll eliminate gang violence. That myopic view of the world fails to grasp the result of such fantasy. Guns are not responsible for the violence committed by human beings on other human beings.

And remember, the largest mass murder in US history was committed by 19 practitioners of the worst kind of collectivism. Armed with box cutters, not guns, they flew two planes into the World Trade Center buildings.

until next time,
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