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 Via [personal profile] elf Not a tragedy. Tragedies are natural; atrocities take sentience and will. Calling it a "tragedy" makes it sound like it "just happened;" when we report or comment on events like this, we need to remember that someone *did* these things, that human motivations were behind the deaths and injuries and other trauma.

Saying "only a monster could do such things; he couldn't be human" DOES NOT HELP. It not only absolves him of responsibility (monsters can't help being monsters); it fails to offer any way for us to prevent similar events in the future. We can plan for hurricanes and tornadoes, mitigate their effects; we can't stop them. Calling mass shootings "tragedies" implies that they are something to endure, not something to stop.

Just the facts: 18 children & 9 others dead; 24-year-old shooter and his mother among them (it was her kindergarten classroom). Newtown, CT is 76 mi/123 km from New York City. 

People will be using this to demand stronger gun control laws. While I agree we need those, I don't think they would've helped.

The shooter was white, middle/upper-class, in a wealthy neighborhood, with a mom with strong ties to the community. He didn't acquire the materials for this overnight--he had multiple guns and a bulletproof vest. He probably wouldn't have had any problem getting a gun--or guns--even with much stricter laws.

We need stricter laws; they would prevent a momentary attack of stupid turning into life-destroying violence. But laws won't make people treat each other decently, or make them believe actions have consequences, or make them care what happens to other people's families. A person who's come to believe the only meaningful accomplishment he could have is to have his name plastered across all major news networks at once, is not going to be dissuaded by gun laws.

Gun control prevents "mah ex is sleeping with that bitch/bastard; gonna get a gun and blow them both away;" it prevents "Better pick up firepower so I don't get screwed over while selling/buying dope tomorrow;" it doesn't prevent long-term plans for one-shot mass destruction.

For those, we need more community awareness and more social accountability. We need people to get to know their neighbors. We need to inculcate compassion and consideration from an early age; we need people to believe their lives are entwined with those around them. 

We need to acknowledge there's a danger-level between "totally harmless" and "terrorist threat" so that people aren't afraid that saying "my neighbor is acting weird; can someone come check it out" will ruin their neighbor's life if neighbor was just mourning a much-beloved pet by digging up all their rosebushes. OTOH, police and other authorities (school officials, military administrators) need to be trained to spot the difference between normal stress & grief reactions, and those that lead to mass violence. At the very least, they need to acknowledge that there *is* a difference. 

And everyone in *any* position of authority needs to be aware that lack of hope makes people desperate, and desperate people do stupid, often violent things, and our society needs to treat "will to live and care about other people" as values that need to be taught and nurtured.

I am in favor of much stronger gun control laws. However, I'm under no impression that stricter laws--especially in the current political climate--would prevent atrocities like this one; this was outside the scope of any reasonable preventative laws.

No society has ever been able to prevent angry, desperate people from lashing out. Some societies are better than others at keeping people from becoming angry and desperate enough to lash out with violence. Laws can't do that; laws proscribe actions, not emotions, not thoughts. We need to change our culture, not just our laws; we need to provide hope and comfort as preventative measures to ward off atrocity, not as rewards only doled out to the deserving. 

Everyone deserves hope. The cost--for all of us--when it's gone, is too great to ignore.

This entry was originally posted at http://pj.dreamwidth.org/367076.html. Please comment here or there there using your LJ ID or OpenID.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 15th, 2012 12:52 pm (UTC)
First in almost every case of the these types of trajedies/atrocity, someone did know the perpetrator had issues.

Second, the reality is there has always been a percentage of the population who might at any given moment might go off the deep end.

Third, do the math, as the population density goes up so does the number of people in that percentage and the potential targets in any one given situation.

Not trying to argue the point that this was a horrible situation, all I could think of yesterday were my grandchildren and children and how much I wanted to hug them all.

But your preventative measures do not sound like "hope and comfort", it sounds like people getting into my personal business.

I do not like my neighbors. I do not want to "know" my neighbors. I am certain they do not want to know me. I am equally certain if they knew they had a pagan witch in their neighborhood they would be looking to get rid of me and would "perceive" me as a threat, because I am different.

I would be willing to bet in any community there are a percentage of people who might feel scary to their neighbors, if they got to know them.

That does not make those who are different a credible threat.

Being a law enforcement professional, does not make them mental health experts.

So I disagree that "social awareness and accountability" is the answer.
The moment a society begins that path it always leads down an ugly road.

Thanks but no thanks that really is not the answer.

I agree gun control is not a single answer, but it can be part of the solution, the other half is birth control.
Dec. 15th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
I'm not going to try to answer your points for Elf, but I know I personally see a lot of value in what she says. I think we need a multi-pronged approach. Part fostering the idea in children that the humans are a community and that what we say and do from birth on up has an effect on the other humans. That our actions reverberate throughout the web and we are all connected simply by all being humans. That is enough of "getting to know the neighbors" for me, in the general sense of we are all neighbors.

Not just a look at the gun laws, but a look at why and who stockpile weapons and feel so terribly isolated and disconnected that mass murder seems a viable option. Some of those can benefit from better access to mental health services. Some of those with access will not use it. And some of those who do and don't use it will still see murder as an option. So ending violence I don't see happening. I do agree that a greater sense of human community and nourishing a sense of compassion in our youngsters can help mitigate some of the violence. I do agree that a redo of gun ownership laws can eliminate a lot of the passionate violence that stems from a cheating spouse of a spilt beer at the bar on Saturday night. I also agree it won't do much for someone bent on shooting up a school.

It would take generations to see a big difference because it involves changing ingrained mindsets in the media, the governments, law enforcement and the general citizenry. I don't think length of time to achieve such results should be a deterrent.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )