Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ramblings about Violence

Juan Cole reminds us that the Virginia Tech massacre is a blip on the radar compared to the slaughter occurring every day of the week in Iraq.

They have two Virginia Tech-style attacks every single day. Virginia Tech will be gone from the headlines and the air waves by next week this time in the US, though the families of the victims will grieve for a lifetime. But next Tuesday I will come out here and report to you that 64 Iraqis have been killed in political violence. And those will mainly be the ones killed by bombs and mortars. They are only 13% of the total; most Iraqis killed violently, perhaps 500 a day throughout the country if you count criminal and tribal violence, are just shot down. |Informed Comment|

IraqSlogger points out that the violence against Iraqi students and faculty is destroying the educational system within Iraq.

One tragedy is not better or worse than the other... these are all tragedies.

But no one has any idea how to stop the violence here or abroad. We cannot even agree on what causes the violence.

I rarely visit NRO but the Bellman pointed me there with some recent criticism of their wacked out views and I ran across an article by John O'Sullivan that discusses the lessons to be learned from this tragedy:

Lessons will undoubtedly be drawn from this so that we may avert such tragedies in future. Some will be technical — greater controls on guns. Some will be moral — attempts to make our culture less brutal and obsessed with violence. Some will be medical — seeking to discover and treat in advance the personality traits that are associated with these crimes.

Some of these are sensible ideas...Some are palliatives to make us feel better...Some are interesting but also sinister, such as the therapeutic notion of preventing and punishing crimes before they happen.

None, however, seems up to the task of defeating radical evil when it appears. |NRO| (emphasis added)
I'm with him all the way to the end... and then he just becomes incoherent in my view. I don't think that evil is a useful concept in moral discourse, it's just emotive and not helpful, whatever one dislikes or fears becomes "evil". But I'm intrigued by his use of the the adjective radical.

To my mind his talk of evil is simply another palliative, something to soothe his troubled mind, blaming our problems on superstitions and Biblical fictions.

He wants to blame Hollywood movies and our "debased culture", he thinks gun control is a palliative.

Personally, I'd like to see more funding and treatment for mental health issues and more restrictions on the sale of firearms.

I'm a gun owner and gun enthusiast myself, but I've been saying for years that no one should be able to buy a gun without talking to a psychologist. Only stable, well-balanced people should be allowed to own firearms.

I'll also admit that there are certain situations where we have quite a bit of empirical evidence that even well-adjusted people go a bit crazy such as divorce or the death of a child... but I won't even bother to address these issues when we cannot even get a waiting period for firearms enacted.

I'm not sure how Mr. O'Sullivan and I could ever agree on good public policy when we cannot even agree on the existence of evil.

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