Forty-three years! Forty-three years before that, Lindbergh had not yet flown the Atlantic. Forty-three years before that, the only automated forms of transportation were the railroad and the steamship. Bruce Charlton:
That landing of men on the moon and bringing them back alive was the supreme achievement of human capability, the most difficult problem ever solved by humans. 40 years ago we could do it – repeatedly – but since then we have *not* been to the moon, and I suggest the real reason we have not been to the moon since 1972 is that we cannot any longer do it. Humans have lost the capability.
These melancholy thoughts of civilizational decline came to mind again when I heard on a news broadcast that it will take at least a year to bring the Colorado cinema mass murderer to trial. And even when the trial eventually gets underway, says TIME, “the case is shaping up to be a years-long criminal proceeding.”
Why? The guy did it, didn’t he? He was arrested on the spot and identified by scores of witnesses. Sure, he might be crazy, and long-standing legal tradition insists that until we have professional opinions on this point, proceedings can’t begin. How long does that take, though?
A year to get to trial? Followed by “a years-long criminal proceeding”? Can’t we any longer get anything done briskly and efficiently?
It’s the same with Jared Lee Loughner, the guy who shot up a crowd in Tucson a year and a half ago. Again, there’s not a shadow of doubt the guy did it, yet it took this long to get a verdict. And that’s with an assist from Loughner’s pleading guilty:
The plea, following Loughner’s long-anticipated competency hearing, forgoes what was expected to be a lengthy trial that would have been draining on survivors and victims’ family members.
Speaking of distress among victims’ family members, spare a thought for the loved ones of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, two young people of Knoxville, Tennessee. Christian and Newsom were kidnapped, raped, tortured, and horribly murdered five and a half years ago by a gang of feral lowlifes whose guilt is no more in doubt than is Jared Lee Loughner’s or James Holmes’s. Yet we still have no final resolution of the case.
It’s all seized-up. We can’t do anything. I’m occasionally asked in conversation what I would do about illegal immigration. “Round ‘em up and deport ‘em” is my stock answer. The reaction is usually furrowed brows and looks of puzzlement. Does he really mean it? Does he really think it’s that simple? Yes and yes. It’s what we used to do when we were young and vigorous.
We can’t do it anymore, just as we can’t send killers to their just deserts or land on the moon. We can’t because our civilization is decrepit and burned-out. You don’t get a second shot at youth. Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait.
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