Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Tragedy In Virginia

Well, that didn't take long did it? Mere hours after a tragedy, every opportunistic wanker, left, right and centre is jumping on the Virginia Tech shooting as proof positive that their own particular political idea is right.

For instance:

1. Dr. Phil seems to think violent video games are to blame.
2. The Gun Control crowd is screaming that the tragedy could have been averted if guns were banned
3. The Pro-Gun crowd is screaming that the tragedy could have been averted if guns were more plentiful.
4. Fox News is blaming anti-depressant drugs.

While I am loathe to link to some of the more sensational media on this, I think I need to, to make a point. And the point is this:

The shooter was a disturbed young man. He is to blame and no one or nothing else is. There may have been very little that could have been done in the immediate past or on the day of that could have prevented this.

It wasn't "video games" as Radley Balko points out:

"He's right, you know. Video games + psycho/sociopath _+ dose of rage = potential mass murderer. Here are some other recipes for potential mass murders:
  • Baseball card collecting + psycho/sociopath + dose of rage.
  • Furry fetish + psycho/sociopath + dose of rage.
  • Only eating orange foods + psycho/sociopath + dose of rage.
  • Napping + psycho/sociopath + dose of rage.

    School shootings haven't increased since the onset of violent video games. They're as exceedingly rare as ever. In fact, juvenile violent crime has dropped over the last 15 years (though there was very slight blip upward last year), the period over which we've seen the rise of violent video games."[emphasis mine].

  • The shooter is an almost textbook example of the suicidal spree killer along the lines of Charles Whitman, Pierre Lebrun, and various postal workers as Prof. Elliot Leyton points out in his book "Hunting Humans".

    This is a "school shooting" in so much as it happened to take place at a school. Given the shooter's pathology and seeming mental condition, it could easily have been a shopping mall or a place of employment. The setting is really irrelevant when dealing with a mentally unstable and violent person.

    Would gun control have prevented it? Maybe, because the shooter may not have been able to get a gun. Of course, he may have resorted to other weapons, homemade explosives, knives or something else, in which case we would be referring to him as "the bomber" or "the attacker". Its seems likely he was going to kill himself and take people with him at any rate.

    Would more armed students have prevented it? Maybe, as this has happened in the past, albeit under circumstances that would not be normal (one of the students was a police officer). Its just as likely that groups of scared, armed students flushed with adrenaline would have ended up shooting other scared, armed students flushed with adrenaline. Or innocent bystanders. Or themselves be shot by the first responding police. It could easily have been a much bigger tragedy.

    Anti-depressants? There is no proof the shooter was even taking them. Just more of Fox News being fear mongering arseholes (what else is new).

    In other words, mourn the terrible tragedy and try to learn what we can from it. Were there signs that could have led to an earlier intervention with the shooter, breaking him from his psychosis and getting treatment? Could Virginia Tech have handled their response differently to better protect students or reduce the number that were killed? These are the things that need to be learned from this.

    Everything else - EVERYTHING else - is political opportunism and positioning and those that delve into this deserve not our attention, but our derision and disgust. They need to get the hell of their favourite hobby horses and concentrate on the real issues in this - how a young man's mental state deteriorated to the point that he wanted to kill and how the school's administration reacted to the tragic events when they occurred.

    Everything else is self-serving bullshit. Ignore it.

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    Monday, April 02, 2007

    Signs your policies are dictatorial

    We are certainly through the looking glass when a country and coalitions policy on treating prisoners is the fodder for a member of Monty Python to use for satire and makes the Iranians - the freakin' fundamentalist, Ayatollah-loving Iranians! - look civilized by comparison.

    From Terry Jones:

    "We would never dream of treating captives like this - allowing them to smoke cigarettes, for example, even though it has been proven that smoking kills. And as for compelling poor servicewoman Faye Turney to wear a black headscarf, and then allowing the picture to be posted around the world - have the Iranians no concept of civilised behaviour? For God's sake, what's wrong with putting a bag over her head? That's what we do with the Muslims we capture: we put bags over their heads, so it's hard to breathe. Then it's perfectly acceptable to take photographs of them and circulate them to the press because the captives can't be recognised and humiliated in the way these unfortunate British service people are.

    It is also unacceptable that these British captives should be made to talk on television and say things that they may regret later. If the Iranians put duct tape over their mouths, like we do to our captives, they wouldn't be able to talk at all. Of course they'd probably find it even harder to breathe - especially with a bag over their head - but at least they wouldn't be humiliated."{emphasis mine]

    Jones really puts into perspective the faux-outrage floating around on this, from the usual suspect who are just gunning for war with Iran for any reason.

    I mean, how bad can it be? I mean, it could be worse:

    (Tony Auth, The Philadelphia Inquirer)

    (ht to Cliff)

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