Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reflections on the Newtown Shooting

Firstly, why these things happen and what to do about them.

As someone who has been at the receiving end of a school's misconstrued response to a perceived threat of violence, I can say with confidence that the people who are going on about the importance of reporting threats are full of shit. For every threat that is carried out, there are 100 that are jokes and another for which there was no warning sign at all. And unless you are going to jail those making the threats or surround schools with police officers, what is this going to prevent? I never had any intension of committing an act of violence at my school, but even if I had, being suspended would not have stopped me from illegally acquiring a firearm and going there the next day. 
This is the sort of time when everyone starts making a point of how they could never even imagine committing an act of violence like what Adam Lanza did. I find this puzzling, mostly because I cannot say the same thing with any degree of honesty. I think the urge to kill each other is an ingrained part of us, a part that our society has chosen to suppress far more than most. I just laugh when people talk about our "culture of gun violence," we who have completely convinced ourselves of our government's monopoly on the legitimate use of force. We don't have tribal warfare, we don't go on campaign every summer, we don’t even have major, nation-mobilizing wars every generation, and instead every so often someone snaps and murders a few dozen people. Even if I'm right it's not a bad trade-off really.
Historically speaking, weapon control laws are tighter now than they ever have been before. Our society preaches a stronger message of non-violence than any that has been preached since about 30 AD. School-yard bullying has never been tolerated less. There are more resources for the mentally ill and socially ostracized than have ever existed before. Yet last week a quiet young man walked into a school and shot twenty children with an assault rifle. Those in authority need to consider the possibility that not only do they not understand what is happening, but that their methods of dealing with it are patently ineffective.
Our culture's attitude toward violence is somewhat like the Victorian era's attitude toward sexuality, we seem to think that if we stop people from doing it as much as possible it will go away. I like this analogy because it implies that our current morals will be soon overthrown. Most people probably don’t for exactly the same reason, but as you consider with horror what that would look like, remember that the Victorians would have felt exactly the same way about the 1960s (revolutions always look terrifying when they are against you).
Maybe I'm wrong, maybe with even more gun control laws and even more non-violence education we'll hit the magic spot where these things actually stop happening, but I doubt it. One thing I can say for sure though, is that the people who proudly profess to being unable to understand why someone would do something like this should not be making the decisions about how to go forward.

Secondly, For Adam Lanza

I have never seen you
But I know every feature of your face

I have never spoken with you
But I know your plea as if it was my own

I have never met you
But I know exactly who you are

And I know who else has seen you and spoken with you and known you

He is a mad and a vicious thing and he has no name
Satan is his bastard son
And Beelzebub his pet
Melkor and Iago were fashioned from his shadow
But him, he has no name
Call him rage, call him hatred
Call him the soul of the demonic
But he has no name
He is the terror that he who loves himself flees from
And he is the final refuge found in the deepest pit of despair

This I know by the works of your hands

I know the voice you heard
The deep calling to come and live forever
In the halls of the damned
To drink from the icy fountain 
And never know pain again

But I have also read the list
Those twenty names calling out after you
Screaming mutely their beauteous horror
And there I hear what he did not tell you
What he did not tell me, but that I guessed from the turn of his lie
That war, that murder and destruction
Is our way
Neither aberration nor tragedy

By your act you wish to set yourself apart
To commit a crime for all eternity
But you have done nothing so great
Their blood cannot hallow you
You cannot make yourself into a demon
And you have died a very human child
Like me
Like them
With all the immortality of a hurricane.


  1. You might find this interesting:

    1. I agree with much of what was said in that article, and it is interesting how well i fit the type he describes (socially isolated intelligent male), but i believe that these acts are both deeper and darker than what the article describes. notoriety for me was never a prime motivation. my desire for renown, to do terrible things, was independent of any media coverage. regardless, i am very glad that people are finally beginning to step forward and talk about the motives behind these crimes, instead of just how monstrous they are.