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Grief, Chaos, and Silence

December 20, 2012

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Grief, Chaos, and Silence

The shooting at a Connecticut elementary school last Friday was a dreadful business, doubly dreadful for happening a few days before Christmas. Any citizen with any power of imagination can see the presents that will never be opened, the festive tree in the living room on Christmas morning waiting for the eager little figures who never come, and the excited little voices that will never again be heard.

That said, it didn’t take long—around 24 hours—for me to feel that there had been quite enough coverage of, and commentary on, the incident.

Not that there is necessarily any harm in so much coverage, though there may be. There’s the copycat business; and yes, crazy people get ideas from other crazy people. The Herostratus factor is in there somewhere—the desire to attain fame by any method at all. Herostratus was the bloke who burned down the temple of Diana in 356 BC for no other reason than that he wanted to be famous. The yearning to be famous is widespread and normal and has inspired great deeds; but in the mind of a lunatic it curdles, like other normal desires.

“The Soviets locked political dissidents up in asylums. Does anyone think our liberal elites would hesitate to do the same, given the power?”

Certainly I would not want the authorities to restrain or suppress coverage. There is quite enough bias and outright suppression in crime reporting already, most of it voluntary. Let ’em report the Connecticut massacre as much as they want to. I just don’t want to read that much about it; not because I’m too squeamish or fastidious, but because I don’t think there’s much content there.

News-wise, once it was clear that the killer was a lunatic and would be making no further trouble, the only things conventionally newsworthy were the pronouncements of politicians, which were of course uniformly jejune. The nasal tones of New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg were prominent. Regarding Obama, Bloomberg honked that “The country needs him to send a bill to Congress to fix this problem.”

To fix it! Once and for all! Just like that! Bloomie’s criminal-justice coordinator, a chap named John Feinblatt, chimed in: “I think the American public wants a plan—is demanding a plan—how the president is going to keep them safe.”

Because, you know, if the president can’t keep us safe, who can? We will lift up our eyes unto the hills. Whence cometh our help? Our help cometh from Obama.

For the left it’s all about gun control. The people who’ve been telling us for years that we can’t possibly deport eleven million illegal infiltrators without gross violations of human rights are insisting that we can confiscate three hundred million privately held firearms. Yes we can! The arguments for gun control are in fact flimsy and easily disposed of: See Radio Free New Jersey do it here.

An alternative thread of commentary has targeted [sic] the mental-health issue. Given that psychiatry is much more an art than a science, and a very approximate art at that, I’m no more keen on giving the authorities the power to lock up weird people than I am to hand over my Second Amendment rights to Nurse Bloomberg. Half my friends are weird. The Soviets locked political dissidents up in asylums. Does anyone think our liberal elites would hesitate to do the same, given the power?


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