The Blood of Innocents

Our guest columnist manages to go 681 words without mentioning “well-regulated”.

It is easy, and in moments of despair such as Friday quite understandable, to scream “more” to gun control, “more” to the morass of airport-style security that is spreading its way across our institutions, “more” to the diagnosis and institutionalization of the mentally ill. But it is much harder to write the laws that would have guaranteed Adam Lanza could never find a gun, or enter a school by force, or go without what diagnosis, treatment, and supervision he might have needed. And hardest of all to write them in such a way that the republic we’d be left with would still look like America in the ways we value most.

This is not so say such laws cannot or should not be written — in the field of mental health, in particular, we think there are commonsense reforms that might make tragedies such as Newtown less likely — but merely to caution humility and care in their crafting.

The need for humility is especially acute in the case of gun control. The irreducible challenge the Second Amendment poses to gun restrictionists is that it does not bestow upon the people a right they previously lacked. It proscribes the government from infringing upon a right the people already have. It is not that the people are allowed to arm. It is that the government is disallowed to disarm them…

On Friday, the president promised “meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” We doubt that something like this is possible, in a way consistent with the principle and the fact of the Second Amendment. If the possibility of terrors like Newtown is a reminder of why we need politics, their reality is a reminder that politics can do only so much.

After Newtown, and Before It [NRO]

27 comments:

4:37 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

Who are the real monsters?

The lunatics who carry out these attacks or the deranged, Gun Supremacist AmeriKKKans who can look at a school full of dead kids and teachers, shrug and say “who gives a damn about them–I want more guns!”

Ugh. OK, I’m out.

5:11 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@¡Andrew!:

If there’s one consistent thread with the National Review, it’s that SOMEBODY ELSE has gotta die and/or suffer to protect their “freedoms”.

See also their approach to government finance, wars overseas, health-care reform, wealth inequality – the list goes on and on.

5:26 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

“The need for humility”, NRO? Really?

How about the need for self-awareness?

6:21 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

BREAKING: Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye of Hawaii has died at 88. His last word was reportedly “Aloha.” Really.

ADD: My first thought was “Fuck, not a Democrat.” Yes, I’m going to hell.

6:35 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@Mistress Cynica: War hero and all-around badass.

7:20 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@Tommmcatt May Just Have Some MJ In His System As Well, So What?:
Ha. They would rather the rest of the world burn than have their fantasy land bubble burst.

7:39 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@Tommmcatt May Just Have Some MJ In His System As Well, So What?: Here’s where I invoke Iris Murdoch again: “Humility is selfless respect for reality.”

Which, obviously, the NRO Editors lack.

7:46 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@nojo: Don’t make me read NRO again. I will never repeat that story about the dog collar and the chocolate syrup. It will be like it never happened. I swear. Just don’t make me go there.

8:08 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@Benedick: It’s one of those Know Thy Enemy things — the best “contemplative” case the Right can muster. At least until Peggy Noonan clutches her bloodstained pearls.

9:24 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

We have a strong new contender in the Stupidest Reaction to Newtown contest: Newsweek’s Megan McArdle, who dismisses gun regulation as impractical and makes this brilliant suggestion:

I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.

9:54 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@Mistress Cynica:
My response to Megan: “YOU FIRST.”

10:17 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

At 25th Infantry Division HQ in 67-68, my first reaction to incoming was to dive into the nearest bunker. Unless you’re within a couple of feet of the shooter, any other reaction is insane.

10:22 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@ManchuCandidate: She would have fit right in as a battlefield commander during the early years of WW1.

10:47 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@ManchuCandidate: +19.

@Mistress Cynica: Tell me I’m wrong to want to adopt a lyrical boxerish bulldoggy bitch who’s birthed a few litters in her time (haven’t we all) and has the teats to show it (hello Catt).

The house jew/arab, aka the hubby, seems to think I need a dog to fill the void left by my difficult boxerish pitbullish magical son dog.

Four dogs, which is where we are now since his death, is not a stable number. There’s something unsettling come biscuit time. Three is good: is rational. Didn’t Washington have three dogs? Or was it Jefferson? There’s something Colonial Williamsburg about three dogs. But do we count pugs as 3/5ths of a dog on account of the black face? Do 2 pugs equal 4/5ths of a beagle?

Five dogs veer into carny territory: dinner time is not unlike China Buffet in Georgia where poppa gotta slam him teef back in him mouf before chowin down on them neverendin’ spicy ribs. It seems to me that 5 dogs is the minimum to establish a pack. A pack has its own rules. So the plan is to take the pugs to meet the newcomer. Then the dachshund (there will be barking). They all have veto power.

So in this horrible time, I find that if I can give a stray a life it helps me. Let’s talk about proportion. And privilege. And the overwhelming grief of all the dead children unreported, all those sacrificed on the altar on the NRO’s convictions. Let’s talk about all the gun deaths. In the cities. Across the nation.

10:48 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

OK, who had Monday in the “when will they blame the gays for Newtown” pool?

10:58 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@RevZafod: It seems that for much of my adult life I’ve been reading Into the Silence: an account of how a bunch of poofs tried to climb Everest. But. It has amazing accounts of WWI. Just about the best I know in terms of what it might have felt like to be there. I bring this up because WWI was similar to Vietnam as regards the age of the soldiers. They were both very young wars.

Days before I was to be inducted I yanked my ass to London. Just as I was about to begin a career in the States. The wreckage of my career counts as much as those who allowed themselves to be inducted.

10:59 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@Mistress Cynica: I had Friday.

11:00 pm • Monday • December 17, 2012

@Mistress Cynica: I’m still hoping the planet can begin a do-over after December 21 without the ironically named homo sapiens around to foul everything up. My relatives have caused me to abandon all hope of things getting any better.

1:06 am • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

@Benedick: Puppeh? I think you should post a photo of the potential pup for audience affirmation from your fellow Stinquers.

@RevZafod: Hell yeah, my uncle in Vietnam and grandpa in “somewhere” in Asia in WWII both said their attitudes towards getting the fuck out of incoming firepower was “There’s no shame in pissing your pants and then standing up afterwards, it means you’re still alive.”

1:36 am • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

@SanFranLefty: @Benedick: Yes, we need puppeh video to restore our will to live.

9:31 am • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

It’s hard to keep up with all of Wal-Mart’s crimes against humanity, and now there’s a rich new chapter concerning Wal-Mart de Mexico. I was already ashamed that it had taken me so long to decide to boycott the Walton empire. Today’s NY Times has a long, long article about the shenanigans they pulled to build one of their gimcrack outlets up next to Teotihuacan and how exposing that is seemingly going to be the thin end of a wedge that may do the megamonster some damage.

11:25 am • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

@Mistress Cynica: Did someone say “puppeh video“?

11:52 am • Tuesday • December 18, 2012
12:48 pm • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

@Benedick: Chocolate syrup? I always heard it was Nutella.

@Mistress Cynica: She thinks Kindergarten Cop was a documentary.

2:43 pm • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

Just got around to reading our local morning paper, the Herald-Times of Bloomington, IN. (I’d provide a link but I think you can’t get past a firewall unless you’re a subscriber.) My favorite writer for it, Mike Leonard, has interviewed an Indiana University professor of sociology, Bernice Pescosolido, “an authority on medical sociology and social issues in health, illness, and healing.” The headline for the story is “Tight-knit communities a factor in shootings, IU sociologist says.” About the Newtown shootings she says that such shootings

“don’t tend to happen in the big cities. They do tend to happen in these supposed tight-knit communities. If you are integrated into the community, you’re good. But if you’re on the outskirts whether through mental illness or bullying or any other reason and have nowhere else to go, you become seriously isolated. We’ve known for 100 years the problems people face when they feel isolated. What we’ve seen in these shootings is the perpetrators are not only outside of the community, they’re outside of the norms of society. I think we’re missing a big piece of the story if we don’t look at the effect that isolation has on a person.”

The article goes on to say the Adam Lanza’s mother took him out of Newtown High School and home-schooled him to get his GED and that Ryan Lanza said he hadn’t seen his younger brother since 2010. It adds that “reports indicate that Adam Lanza hadn’t even left the confines of his home for some time.” If Adam also suffered from Asperger syndrome, “a disorder linked to autism and difficulties with social interaction,” as has been reported, that would have increased his burden of feelings of loneliness and isolation. “Isolation is more deadly than smoking in terms of mortality,” says Pescosolido, and “people who are not engaged are more predisposed to suicide,” adding that only about 11 percent of people who commit suicide have had any connection with the mental health system and that “most people with mental illness are the victims of crime rather than the perpetrators.” So, while the talk about the need for better mental health screening and treatment and the effect of guns in society is all good, the importance of the isolation factor has been largely overlooked.
She goes on to talk about the shooters at Columbine and Virginia Tech and now at Newtown and says “these are all children of privilege, not poverty.” It sounds counterintuitive, but tight-knit communities of privilege may be in special danger of creating the very circumstances that exacerbate an individual’s feelings of isolation into a pathological condition.

About our town, Pescolido says “I always say about Bloomington: thank goodness for IU. Bloomington is a pretty tight-knit community, too. . . . [after talking about the very active family involvement in high school activities, especially sporting events] fortunately it has a place for kids who have other interests. Whether they are activities through the university or things we have because we have such a rich college town environment, we are fortunate in that way.” And about other towns and places as well as ours, “we do have to be concerned about differences and different ways where people who are different can be involved in their communities. Inclusion efforts are much better than we used to see, but until we sort of highlight the importance of people feeling involved and engaged in their communities, we’re going to have people at risk.”

About the Newtown shootings, she said, “Unfortunately . . . I guess you could call it one of the teaching moments of my career. My students in my Medicine in America class? Their assignment on the very first day was to write on school shootings. The students who walked into their final exam on Friday were not even concerned about the final or their grade. They walked in knowing what they’d read and written about and talked about – they know how to think about Newtown from a different perspective than what they would have thought before the class.”

[Whew! that's long, isn't it? Important though.]

3:16 pm • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

@lynnlightfoot: What an interesting piece.

@TJ/ Jamie Sommers /TJ: That was the other time. Involving handcuffs. And Thousand Island Dressing.

5:18 pm • Tuesday • December 18, 2012

@lynnlightfoot: Springfield — the one I’m most familiar with because it happened in Eugene’s sister town — is working-class. At the time, it was something like transitional working-class, since the mill wasn’t what it used to be.

But the shooting itself was at Thurston High, on the far end of town, where life turns rural. And the shooter’s parents — both shot first, at home — were teachers. Not wealthy by any means, but not dirt-poor, either.

Springfield doesn’t fit that picture, at least not the “privilege” part. And that’s also why Columbine, a year later, got the attention — those were nice kids. But tight-knit? Yes, indeed.

Eugene? Closer to Bloomington. College town, 156,000 souls. (Jeezus, that’s three times the size when I was growing up there.) What Eugene has, that Springfield lacks, is circulation — all those folks landing there to attend and teach at the UO. Less insular that way.

Except the fucking Ducks, of course. God damn national football teams. Sucks all the air out of the room.

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