When the massacre occurred in Connecticut, there was no call for commentary, certainly not from me who lives thousands of miles from where it occurred and knew none of the victims, the culprit or their families. Silence was probably the right reaction, and some reflections on just how vulnerable people can be in even a quite civilized society. I could have come up with some ideas on the effects of disarming schoolteachers and administrators but without knowing details, they would have been unhelpful.
What did start to prompt foul reactions from me is the politicians' beginning to sound off. How they took advantage of the grief surrounding the event was not only predictable but disgusting. Promising to reenact the old and by all accounts quite ineffective federal assault weapons ban is difficult to explain as anything more than an empty political – in the worst sense of the term – gesture.
And, of course, all the venom was directed not at the perpetrator, by then himself deceased but at opponents of gun control legislation. Scapegoating is what the politicians who chimed in did so diligently. Not a single gun control opponent could be faulted for the horrors inflicted upon the victims, not a one, yet they were under moral indictment by the politicians, including President Obama, more so than the culprit.
Just let us remember that a good many who oppose federal and other gun control laws do so on grounds that they do not want the federales to be the only armed people in the realm. Rightly or wrongly, they are concerned that disarming the citizenry who have done nothing to deserve that is a pointless and mindless self-indulgence, nothing at all useful or helpful. In a considerably free country people will always be able to engage in murderous conduct. It happens day in and day out across America and elsewhere. It is one part of the price of liberty, namely, that citizens are not shackled and bound and thus are able to carry out not just all the praiseworthy but also many vile acts. For such acts they would best be severely punished – something, by the way, that most gun control advocates are notoriously silent about! (I watched quite a few talks shows and read a bunch of pundits during the last several days and those lamenting the lack of police state like gun prohibition – which have been and are still favored by tyrannies and dictatorships throughout history and the globe – have expressed zero hostility toward the people who carry out massacres like the one in Connecticut. It is, instead, always society or culture or America or some such nebulous culprit that's being blamed, with the actual perps mostly suffering from alienation, mental disease, etc. Among these folks the idea of human evil appears not to have any reality to it!)
Another reaction from the political class, you know which I have in mind, that's really pathetic is the promises made not to allow such a thing to happen, ever again! And just how is that going to be done? Even if every school in the world will have a squadron of cops marching up and down its corridors, how will it be assured that among them there will not be some vile sadists who will take advantage of their privileged position and carry out a similar deed? How will Mr. Obama make sure that that will never happen? So because this is nonsense, and because Mr. Obama is certainly not ignorant about it, what we must be witnessing is rank demagoguery.
Sometimes the best response to what happens in the world is outrage, especially with those who carry out vicious deeds. Human beings are, after all, the one known animal that is responsible for its behavior, driven not by instincts but by conscious choices. When those choices are irresponsible ones and vile, they are the ones whose guilt should be our focus.
As we learn from Shakespeare – from Cassius in Julius Caesar, Act 1, scene 2 – "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves." Indeed, the kid who carried out the murders in Connecticut is very likely the responsible party. Let's get that right and then we might embark on some useful understanding of such deeds.