Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Missing the point

The beyond-obvious response to yesterday's tragic massacre (redundant, I realize) is gun control. First for the general population, then ideally for cops, too. New York-centric Utopianism? Perhaps, but it's the only way to prevent people with murderous inclinations from accidentally killing, at the very least, an extra dozen people. We cannot create a murder-free society, but a massacre-free one is an entirely reasonable goal.

The way to prevent such events from occurring is not to give a long portrait, as the New York Times does, of the gunman as a "loner." The crime in question was not, and should not be associated with, such "strange" behavior as eating alone in the dining hall, downloading music of all genres, failing to make eye contact with someone running for student council, or not having a girlfriend. By all accounts, Cho pre-massacre was a whole lot like 99% of students at the University of Chicago, none of whom, to my knowledge, have shown up one day and shot 32 of their classmates. It's absurd that the crime is portrayed as resulting from the gunman's not being gregarious, rather than from the fact that he was a) a murderer, and b) one living in a country that makes it far too easy to get a gun. Stigmatize guns before stigmatizing solitude. It just makes sense.


Anonymous said...

I guess one could say that all of these murderers are schizoids, but not all schizoids are murders.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

And eating alone in a dining hall is schizophrenia?

Anonymous said...

Phobe wrote: "New York-centric Utopianism?" Ayep. Given the number of firearms in the U.S., and the number of people who love their firearms in the U.S. (and the money they're willing to spend defending their right to have a rack full of Kalashnikovs in their closets), gun control in the U.S. is about as likely as Connecticut digging up Staten Island and moving it off Stamford just because "they really really like it." If you enjoy people watching, and want to have a serious 180 on being a New Yorker vs. being outside of New York, go to a gun show (even one in New York). Amazingly funny and amazingly scary, bothatonce. Massacres and gun violence have a long history in the U.S. I note the prior "record" for this sort of thing was set way back in the peaceful, sweet, everybody had a nice haircut year of 1966. J. Phillips, frontier printer, fighting insomnia single handedly so youse don't have to! (Why do they say YOUSE in New York, and why don't people make as much fun of it as they do YALL?) The world wonders!

Miss Self-Important said...

Do 99% of U of C students attempt to buy guns in order to massacre their classmates, but fail because of Chicago's strict gun laws? I'm not sure this is a good analogy.

Anonymous said...

One possibility is that there is no solution. This guy was determined, capable, evil, and unhinged.

The US has a quarter-billion guns. People who use theirs for hunting or home defense aren't going to want to turn them in. There's also that 2nd Amendment thing.

You want to go after the gun owners, and take away their property and liberty.

Someone else might want to go after the weirdos, outcasts, loners, and freaks--perhaps by instituting, say, 5 years of mandatory national service. Nothing builds national character like national service.

How about we lay off the coercive proposals until we can at least get a final body count?

I propose more funding for mental health treatment and an active effort at "renorming" and destigmatization of mental health treatment.

I'd also like to see a change in the way that Americans--individual Americans, hundreds of millions of them--behave towards one another. I'd like to see people give a shit about the lives and fortunes of their countrymen. A little less atomization please. A little more ethic of caring. It's a difficult goal--it asks something of many, many people--but it's worth the effort.