The vultures descend

April 17, 2007 | By | 20 Replies More

It never takes long for people to exploit a tragedy when they have something to gain from doing so.  President Bush, who has done virtually nothing notable this year, has dropped whatever he had on his calendar for today so that he can swoop down on Virginia Tech, the site of yesterday’s student massacre.  Likewise, Virginia’s governor is flying back from Japan, so he can show his face to the crowd.  Of course, the MSM has already landed and capitalized on the tragedy, by interviewing anyone and everyone they can find, especially people who were shot. 

These scavangers will probably all try to convince us that the incident is somehow worthy of national — nay, international — attention, when plainly it is not.  It is not an arument for stricter national gun control, as the Europeans seem to believe.  It is not an argument for more breaches of the U.S. Constitution…er, I mean stricter “homeland security.”  It is not an argument for tighter visa requirements for international students and other visitors.

No, I think the following quote from the Swedish press accurately describes the incident:  “What exactly triggered the massacre in Virginia is unclear but the fundamental reason is often the perpetrator’s psychological problems in combination with access to weapons.”

Yes, psychological problems in combination with access to weapons is often the reason for a massacre.  We should know:  we’ve seen it before.

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About the Author ()

Grumpypilgrim is a writer and management consultant living in Madison, WI. He has several scientific degrees, including a recent master’s degree from MIT. He has also held several professional career positions, none of which has been in a field in which he ever took a university course. Grumps is an avid cyclist and, for many years now, has traveled more annual miles by bicycle than by car…and he wishes more people (for the health of both themselves and our planet) would do the same. Grumps is an enthusiastic advocate of life-long learning, healthy living and political awareness. He is single, and provides a loving home for abused and abandoned bicycles. Grumpy’s email: grumpypilgrim(AT)@gmail(DOT).com [Erich’s note: Grumpy asked that his email be encrypted this way to deter spam. If you want to write to him, drop out the parentheticals in the above address].

Comments (20)

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  1. Edgar Montrose says:

    I feel the need to emphasize that "access to weapons" does not only mean "access to guns". I suspect that a person so deranged as to be compelled to carry out such a horrible act would find other, equally deadly means, had guns not been available.

    In the mean time, to those who argue that only law enforcement should be allowed access to weapons, because only law enforcement is able to protect us ordinary citizens, I ask, "Where was law enforcement during the two hours between the first set of shootings and the second?"

  2. projektleiterin says:

    "It is not an arument for stricter national gun control, as the Europeans seem to believe."

    People who have never grown up in a country where carrying guns is prohibited do not know how nice this feeling of security can be. You do not have to worry about being shot (not even by accident), because you know that normal people do not carry guns. There is just not much that triggers your need to protect yourself by buying a gun, too. I've been to Egypt where you saw guards with guns on every corner, did this make me feel safer? Hell no. It constantly reminded me of violence and danger.

    Carrying guns is a relict from the Wild West and should not be part of any civilized society, because it feeds a vicious circle of violence.

  3. grumpypilgrim says:

    Edgar writes: "I suspect that a person so deranged as to be compelled to carry out such a horrible act would find other, equally deadly means, had guns not been available."

    I wonder about this assertion. Is there data to support it? Not many easily obtainable weapons enable a deranged person to do as much killing in as short amount of time as does a gun.

  4. Edgar Montrose says:

    I can only offer conjecture. But I do know that, for example, the rampage at Columbine did NOT consist of guns alone. They also had knives and explosive devices — 99 of them. But nobody ever mentions that. To the world, it was entirely a gun issue.

  5. Dan Klarmann says:

    Guns don't kill people; people kill people. People with guns kill people more efficiently. People with semi-automatic and automatic guns kill people wholesale. People with guns are most likely to kill people accidentally.

    And if you write the word "people" often enough, it just looks wrong.

  6. Edgar Montrose says:

    I sincerely wish that I knew the solution to this problem. I wish that I lived in a place where self-defense was not necessary because there were no threats. I absolutely agree that guns used offensively kill people — too many people. But I also find it logical to conclude that guns used defensively can help prevent that from happening.

    I think that it would be wonderful if there were no guns, knives, bombs, sticks, or stones, because they weren't necessary. But I think that the elimination of weapons will be the EFFECT of an improved society, not its CAUSE. How to bring about such a societal change, I simply do not know.

  7. grumpypilgrim says:

    After Ben bans guns, what would he ban next? Knives? They are used for killing people. Rope? Yup, that, too. Fertilizer? Yes, bombs are often made with fertilizer. Gasoline? Ditto. What about hammers — the proverbial blunt instrument? Lead pipes? Rocks? Are you going to ban rocks, too, Ben?

  8. Ben says:

    We'll talk about other weapons once we get the gun ban in place. Ever been to London? The "bobbies" have sticks instead of guns. Crime is low. Citizens do not deserve the right to carry an arsenal. That's not how I interpret the constistution.

    Outlaw Knives, no (but keep similar laws in place about blade length). Rope, no. Fertilizer, yes in large quantities, if you name is Tim. Gasoline, limit 25 gallons per automobile. Hammers will be fitted with rubber covers. Lead pipes are bad to begin with cuz they contain lead. Rocks, no thats science, we like science.

    Grumpy, as technology becomes available for the production of weapons of mass destruction, we few good Americans need to keep controls on certain things. Assault weapons… remove the ban? Napalm Grumpy? Ban or keep. Asbestos, ban or no ban? DDT, Torture, witch-trials, come on Grumpy wake up.

    When it becomes obvious that a type of weapon is ridiculously powerful, it is wise to stop bandying them about. This was the case with nuclear and biological weapons, we realized that it was overkill, or are you content with having biological weapons as sanctioned for neighborhood skirmishes?

    This is the whole push behind things like tazers, *sound-weapons*, bike cops, rubber bullets, flash bang grenades, and my personal favorite…rational discourse.

    http://washingtontimes.com/national/20040307-1206

  9. Edgar Montrose says:

    Last time I was in London, I had to evacuate a pub because a "suspicious" briefcase had been left unattended outside the door. Every train station had posters on the walls advising people to be alert for potential terrorist acts.

    Utopia.

  10. Ben says:

    Murders per 1000 people…

    #24 United States: 0.043 per 1,000 people

    #46 United Kingdom: 0.014 per 1,000 people

    http://www.nationmaster.com/graph/cri_mur_percap-

  11. projektleiterin says:

    "But I think that the elimination of weapons will be the EFFECT of an improved society, not its CAUSE."

    That means that European countries are more developed than the US? That's why we have less people running amok and lower crime rates in general?

    I believe weapons support and reinforce a general belief that the other is your enemy, that you are in a constant danger. Instead of having some trust in the basic goodwill of the other individual to participate in sorting out the roots of a problem and seeking to find a resolution, people are encouraged to believe that the only way to dealing with a conflict is to defend and/or to attack and that most of the time only leads to its escalation.

  12. Vicki Baker says:

    Projektleiterin writes: "That means that European countries are more developed than the US? That’s why we have less people running amok and lower crime rates in general?"

    Yes, I think so. Most European countries are committed to guaranteeing a basic standard of living rather than maximizing the wealth of a few.

    On the home front, I think getting to know your neighbors, and working with local authorities to create more livable, walkable neighborhoods will do more to reduce crime and create feelings of security than having everyone carry a gun.

    PS: Was fuer ein Projekt leiten Sie?

  13. grumpypilgrim says:

    projektleiterin writes: "That means that European countries are more developed than the US?"

    Europeans are not necessarily "more developed than the US," but they certainly do have different cultural myths and mores than America. In particular, Europeans do not appear to have the national myth of a "rugged individual" or "lone hero" that pervades American pop culture, nor do they appear to be nearly as obsessed with violent images in their entertainment. Most European countries also have far more egalitarian societies than does America, a factor which likely reduces the incidence of people "running amok" and resorting to crime.

    In any case, before we conclude that Europeans are more "developed" than Americans, we should remember that Europeans also started two world wars in the last century, and elevated crime and "running amok" to levels that are unprecedented in human history. Those wars not only exterminated a large percentage of the violent (and non-violent) people in the European gene pool, but probably also made the survivors more conscious of the futility of crime and "running amok." Accordingly, while I would agree that today's America would likely benefit from adopting some of the practices found in today's Europe, projektleiterin's blanket statement about European superiority is largely unsupportable.

  14. projektleiterin says:

    "PS: Was fuer ein Projekt leiten Sie?"

    Mein Name ist selbstironisch gemeint. Meine Mutter nennt mich manchmal so, weil ich als Kind dauernd so viele Strickprojekte angefangen und oft nicht beendet habe. 😀 Ich habe einen Strickblog unter diesem Namen und benutze ihn manchmal auch für Kommentare in Foren.

    "Those wars not only exterminated a large percentage of the violent (and non-violent) people in the European gene pool, but probably also made the survivors more conscious of the futility of crime and “running amok."

    Grumpypilgrim, you're basically supporting what I said. After WWII it has been mostly Americans who started wars and invaded other countries, not Europeans. I assume the likelihood of France and Britain invading Germany or vice versa is way smaller than Americans picking another fight with France over their lack of support should they ever decide to march once again into a country for personal reasons. I think that is a good example of what I said previously regarding trading conflict resolution skills in in favor of use of force to osettles disagreements.

  15. Dan Klarmann says:

    http://babelfish.altavista.com is a useful reference for those of us whose conversational German has atrophied. As machine translation goes, it is pretty good.

    I'm not following ProjektLeiterin's example and adding knitting to the many types of projects I never finish.

  16. projektleiterin says:

    I've become much better at finishing projects. 😉

  17. grumpypilgrim says:

    projektleiterin is certainly correct that, since WWII, the U.S. has been the aggressor in starting wars and invading countries, but it remains to be seen whether Europe has cured itself of this cancer or merely sent it into temporary remission. Evidence for the latter includes, for example, the recent increase in neo-Nazism, not just in Germany but also in Belgium, Croatia and elsewhere. Germany also has nationalism tensions, including persistent hostility against immigrants from Turkey and Poland.

    The bottom line is that we really don't know what Europe or the U.S. will do in, say, the next five or ten decades. I am optimistic about Europe becoming more unified and, consequently, more dominant on the international stage (we are seeing this already in the financial industry, and we also saw it with Europe's opposition to the Iraq invasion), and I hope this will help reduce American short-sightedness, but racial and national tensions do still exist in Europe and don't appear be going away anytime soon. Accordingly, while I mostly agree with projektleiterin comparison of America and Europe, I'm unwilling to jump to any conclusions about long-term results.

  18. Vicki Baker says:

    PL – ich stricke auch gern, oder besser gesagt: ich samnle Garn.

    OK, I guess we can't talk about the other commenters in German now that Dan has let the Babelfish out of the bag.

  19. Well, good points, grumpy. I'm not really German, I only grew up here so I also watch the arising neo-Nazism movement and the lack of response from the public with a certain unease.

    On a more international level the leading industry nations here seem to have set aside nationalistic aspirations and be willing to explore and use the means of diplomacy to find compromises with their neighbors. And I also think if eventually they decide to let Turkey gain entry to the EU it will build the kind of bridge with the Arabic countries that Bush had desperately wanted with his Iraq invasion. So, in this respect I'm optimistic.

    Vicky, Dan is such a tattletale, eh? Just kidding. 😀 Was für Garn sammelst du? Oder meinst du, daß du an der Entwicklung deines "stash" arbeitest? 😉

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