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This Wicked World

There are no words. [1] Right here at Christmastime:

Eighteen children were killed on Friday morning in a shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., about 65 miles northeast of New York City, according to a person who had been briefed on the shooting. Another law enforcement official said preliminary reports [2] suggested there could be as many as 20 fatalities, ranking it among the worst mass killings in United States history.

One state official said that an adult gunman was believed to be dead in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. The gunman was in possession of at least two firearms, the official said. There was some speculation that there were two gunmen involved in the mass shooting.

More: [3]

Stephen Delgiadice said his 8-year-old daughter heard two big bangs and teachers told her to get in a corner. His daughter was fine.

“It’s alarming, especially in Newtown, Connecticut, which we always thought was the safest place in America,” he said.

At this point, I think it’s more important that we tell our children how much we love them than that we use this evil event to draw political conclusions. To paraphrase Solzhenitsyn, the line between good and evil does not run between geographic or economic borders, but down the middle of every human heart. Lord, have mercy.

UPDATE: I was just down in the barbershop with my son when the president came on TV to talk about the killings. It was powerful, watching him tear up like that. I believe it was completely genuine. He is a father. No father (or mother) can face this without being shaken to the core. I appreciate the president’s passion and his dignity, and I share his frustration with why this kind of thing keeps happening. It goes beyond the availability of guns. I grew up in a rural gun culture. This sort of thing never happened, and still doesn’t down here. There’s something else going on.

UPDATE: Well, everybody’s going to talk about it, it seems. That’s fine. I just hate the reflex we have in this country to take events like this and react politically before we even stop to recognize it as a human tragedy. Anyway, Jeffrey Goldberg has some worthwhile thoughts [4] about what we can and can’t do to stop things like this. It seems to me that whatever we might say or do with regard to gun regulation, there is something more fundamentally wrong with this country and its people. Me and you, I mean. The gun control argument that comes out every time we have something terrible like this happen reminds me of the futility of the arguments we have over teen pregnancy. Many people like to believe that the reason teenagers get pregnant is a lack of knowledge about and access to contraception. Is it really the case, in 2012, that a meaningful number of teenagers are ignorant of how one gets pregnant, and how one prevents it? Is it really the case that kids get pregnant because they can’t get their hands on rubbers, or other forms of contraception? Or is there something more fundamental and mysterious at work?

 

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144 Comments To "This Wicked World"

#1 Comment By Bryan On December 15, 2012 @ 2:25 am

And now for something REALLY unpopular…my opinion:

I have two elementary school age children. I have attended at least five “higher-learning” institutions in the last ten years, from community college to the Ivy league. I’ve worked in the private sector from minimum-wage service industry to union labor, and been up-close-and-personal with every American institution from the “mental health” industry, to the military, to householder, to college, to jail.

Here is the reality: American society is broken, and there is no fixing it. The blood-dimmed tide is loose and there’s nothing poetic about it at all.

Kip Kinkel’s mother and father: both school teachers
Dylan Klebold’s mother: college administrator
James Holmes’s father: ‘mathematician’ with graduate degrees from Stanford & Berkeley
James Holmes himself: Honors graduate student in neuroscience
Ryan Lanza’s mother: school teacher

All these young murderers come from painfully-typical, if not ideal, American upper-middle class homes. Why are they doing this? The answer is long but easy.

Young men in our society are raised in an ultra-sterile and institutionalized environment with no transcendental moral guidance whatsoever and ever-decreasing independent economic opportunities.

Women enjoy lower unemployment, higher college attendance and graduation rates, and highly unjust family divorce/custody laws which favor even unfit mothers over hard-working fathers.

These young men are also surrounded by a culture that places no intrinsic value on human life whatsoever. The culture of death, death, and can-we-please-be-paid-for-more-joyless-sex-and-death.

To top it all off they are told that they, or their fathers, or their great-grandfathers who they never met, are to blame for all of society’s ills and that young men now should just shut up, take their student loans/unemployment checks/parents’ allowances and just go to their unattended, empty homes and play video games their whole young lives as their only acceptable outlet and also as practice for later “adulthood” when they work meaningless jobs and come home to scuttle off to their “man-caves” to drink booze, watch porn and prepare for their own divorce and custody disputes. But don’t disrespect women or children.

The brutal, inarguable truth is that anyone who is NOT hopeless and desperate in such circumstances is mentally ill.

Let the poet say it again:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

#2 Comment By Andrea On December 15, 2012 @ 2:40 am

I would not talk to a child that young or photograph him without permission from a parent or an adult with him. Legally that probably isn’t necessary if the child is in public, but it’s become the standard in the past few years. Any reporter who did otherwise is unethical, in my opinion.

#3 Comment By MEH 0910 On December 15, 2012 @ 2:48 am

[5]

Several said in separate interviews that it was their understanding that he had a developmental disorder. They said they had been told that the disorder was Asperger’s syndrome, which is considered a high functioning form of autism.

#4 Comment By Travis On December 15, 2012 @ 3:06 am

The Second Amendment was written in an era when a highly trained marksman was doing well to fire four rounds per minute from a muzzle-loading smoothbore musket.

Today, anyone can go to Wal-Mart, buy a 17-shot self-loading magazine-fed pistol with a couple spare magazines, and get off 30 or 40 rounds in the space of a minute.

It is time for gun advocates to face the facts: firearms today are specifically designed to be capable of inflicting as many grievous wounds in a short as period as time as possible – they are engineered for mass slaughter.

All self-loading or repeating weapons should be capable of firing no more than six rounds before being manually reloaded, and detachable magazines prohibited. This would preserve a right to carry a legitimate self-defense weapon, but significantly inhibit a shooter’s capability to engage in protracted offensive gunfire.

#5 Comment By Thomas Andrews On December 15, 2012 @ 3:38 am

The children are paying the price for the inability of us liberal and you conservative Christians to work together on anything, at all.

That’s the real problem here.

What a price the culture wars are levying upon us in America.

And what little progress we have made. Frankly, I think the distrust on both sides is greater today than ever before. It’s all or nothing.

Well, soon we can put away our cherished ‘knowns’ until the next massacre. We will then pull them out, yet again, to use them to attack each other’s side, safe in the knowledge the we* and we* alone know God’s true mind on this. And nothing, but nothing will change.

Jeremiah hit this one on the head:
But they are altogether brutish and foolish: The stock is a doctrine of vanities. Jeremiah 10:8.

Oh, gosh – best add that ‘stock’ references ‘idol’, as in ‘worshiping the certainty that we* alone know God’s true mind’ and not stock as in ‘gun’.

Good thing we* have enough children to sacrifice on the altar of our* certainty, no?

*Oh, and by ‘our’ and ‘we’ I meant both you conservative and us liberal Christians.

#6 Comment By Roger McCarthy On December 15, 2012 @ 4:24 am

As a European socialist I should just blame guns but we had an almost identical case in Dunblane in Scotland 16 years ago despite our very restrictive gun laws – and in painfully politically correct Norway Anders Breivik killed three times as many victims.

The point is simply that there are 7 billion or whatever it is now of us crowded like rats onto this dying planet and if even one in a million is so evil that they’d slaughter a whole classroom or camp full of kids to make some crazy personal or political point then that is thousands of monsters in our midst – some of whom will acquire guns, bombs or whatever it takes to do it.

All letting pretty much anyone own however many guns as they like does is lower the bar we set psychopaths – perhaps it can be raised (although with there being more guns than people in the US this would take generations) so that such events become once in a decade horrors as they are in Europe – but the whole point about evil and crazy people is that they are evil and crazy and some of them will always find a way.

Coincidentally I just read the diaries of Tony Blair’s aide Alistair Campbell where he describes the joint visit made to Dunblane by Blair and then prime minister John Major when there was still pools of blood on the floor of gymnasium where the killings took place.

After the visit Major who being of the old school felt profoundly uncomfortable about politicians intruding themselves into such tragedies (and clearly resented Blair and Campbell for having insisted on a joint visit) said to Campbell ‘there are no words for this’.

#7 Comment By Roger McCarthy On December 15, 2012 @ 4:47 am

@Richard Johnson

’43 of 63 killers were white males’

That equals 68.2% of those killers

in 2010 72.4% of the US pop were white and in 1982 when the first of the 63 killings took place that percentage was even higher.

However if you exclude Hispanics from the ‘white’ category that falls to 63.2% – but this again would have been at least several points higher in 1982.

Unfortunately it is not clear from the article cited whether the 43 white males includes or excludes Hispanics – but I suspect they probably count as non-whites.

So if that is correct and one is only looking at males (and lets face it women very, very, very rarely commit acts of mass murder and only one of the 63 killers was in fact a woman), white males don’t really seem to be statistically much more prone to commit lone mass-shootings than non-white males – and of course everything depends on the definition of this particular class of crime.

However with a sample of just 63 killers from a population of 300+ million this is clearly a silly way of looking at it….

#8 Comment By Public_Defender On December 15, 2012 @ 4:49 am

It’s natural to want to speak about prevention at a time like this, but it’s a dreadful time for a thoughtful debate. One incident rarely proves or disproves anyone’s position, and people tend to emote more than think.

So liberals should hold off on the gun control talk. Conservatives should hold off on tough-on-crime talk. And we should give each other a temporary pass on policy arguments that are more emotion than thought.

#9 Comment By Chris On December 15, 2012 @ 4:58 am

As a mental health professional who has had years of experience doing crisis intervention and harm reduction interventions this sort of thing does not surprise me at all. In fact I am surprised that this does not happen much more often given the number of guns and the number of people with severe mental illness. The mental health system in this country is broken badly on every level. HMO’s restrict access to services. State governments are shutting down state hospitals and putting severely disturbed people on the street. Our emergency rooms overflow with psychotic and violent mental health patients who need stabilization but can’t get it. Why? The mentally ill don’t vote and have limited economic resources. However if one looks at violence as an epidemiological problem one ca discern patterns in which violence spreads through a community into adjacent communities and one can hopefully develop ways to combat this.

#10 Comment By sdb On December 15, 2012 @ 6:44 am

@rj there is a difference between 160 character chatter and endless loops of video footage of weeping kids with an image of the murderer superimposed on the screen. the raw material for Facebook is from the the multitude of media onsite. but I get your point. I guess we will continue celebrating these events (from the perspective of some demented types) and turning the murderers into reality stars.

#11 Comment By DaveC On December 15, 2012 @ 7:10 am

Numb is all I can feel about this senseless tragedy.

I have a bad feeling that in the coming days we are going to learn that what we have here is a case of irresponsible parenting and irresponsible gun ownership. The firearms were registered to the mother and that included the AR15. Am I supposed to believe then that Mom was a big gun nut? Mom at the rifle range shooting her AR?? You have to be 21 to purchase firearms in Connecticut and you have to get a permit just to be able to purchase handguns and it’s a separate permit to concealed carry.

We are also learning that the 20 year old had some level of autism or some other mental issues.

I think what we have here is a 20 year old, who if he’s typical, plays lots of 1st person shooter video games. The 20 year old wanted real guns but couldn’t legally purchase so Mom, wanting to be a good mother, went and purchased these firearms for him. CT also has a level of safe storage laws and I can imagine that “her” firearms were not in a gun safe, locked away with only she knowing the combination but he had access to them.

Firearms are not toys for boys to play with, especially ones with issues!

#12 Comment By Jack On December 15, 2012 @ 7:20 am

I am no fan of the NRA but I don’t think gun control is as important a factor as the media thinks. The rash of mindless massacres by nuts is a recent thing and guns have always been readily available in the USA if you really wanted them. If one looks for something truly current that has a chronological relation to these events, it would seem to be more the movie and TV rush to portray ever more grotesque and over-the-top violence. This media race to the bottom is aided even by critics who seem to actually prefer entertainments that are gratuitously violent whereas once they acted as brake.

#13 Comment By Fred On December 15, 2012 @ 7:30 am

[6]

#14 Comment By Chaos On December 15, 2012 @ 8:51 am

“Many people like to believe that the reason teenagers get pregnant is a lack of knowledge about and access to contraception. Is it really the case, in 2012, that a meaningful number of teenagers are ignorant of how one gets pregnant, and how one prevents it? ”

Isn’t this the abstinence-only method? Keeping them ignorant or misinformed, hoping to scare them into chastity? Because the states with the highest teen pregnancy, abortion & STD rates are the states teaching AOE. Nothing mysterious there. Very deliberate, methodical ignorance. It’s far easier, cognitively, for teens in a religious home to claim the sex just happended (or blame it on the wine coolers, like Bristol), than plan ahead for the “sinning” by procurring contraception.

#15 Comment By Peter On December 15, 2012 @ 9:16 am

Richard Johnson, I wouldn’t make too much of the fact whites are very slightly unrepresented. It is a very small sample set after all.

#16 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 15, 2012 @ 10:05 am

as with 9/11, I seem detached from these events. It’s an anomaly. It’s relatively rare given our population, social stratification, social pressures, history and weapons availability.

Children in certain neigborhoods all across this country are exposed to all manner of weapons violence sometimes, multiple times a day, week or month. Yet we are not plagued by these children turning into mass murderers.

I wonder how many of these parents attempting to shield their sons and daughters every day assess these rare incidents. Those in the trenches of life don’t have neighbors with 200 thousand dollar degrees in psychology who will sift through young psyche’s to seek and more likely creat some nonexis trauma. They get up every morning, kiss and hug their kids and shuffle them off to school. Praying that between the hours of 8 AM and 9 PM or later racing home from their second job – they will find their child safe.

Children are resilient. It’s the adults that are dangerous to their emotional and psychological health. All the chatter about PTSD, etc. What the children will remember and how is largely dependent on how those memories are shaped by the adults. Here, I think an important lesson could be learned by the less priviledged parents in the afformentioned. Maybe instead of calling in teams of psychiatrists and psychologists, counselors . . . just maybe, It’s time to engage the skills of the experienced.

[Note from Rod: In early 2013, a teenage boy from my town will go on trial for first-degree murder. In 2010, he jumped out of the bushes and slaughtered an eight-year-old boy who was riding a nature trail with his family. This all took place in a country-club/Arnold Palmer golf course housing development, where the murderer lived (there is no question that he did it; he has pled not guilty by reason of insanity, and from what I’m told by people who have seen him in jail, he is almost certainly quite psychotic). The murderer was from a good family, they say, and certainly a well-off family, and he made excellent grades. And yet, he was, it appears, criminally insane. You never know. — RD]

#17 Comment By Glaivester On December 15, 2012 @ 10:17 am

A few thoughts:

(1) This is not really comparable to 9/11 or to the Breivik case, as both of those cases involved discernible political motives.

(2) It seems as if the number of mass killings has gone up recently (as in the past year or so), but is that just the coincidence of these two recent mass murders (included the attempted one) and perhaps the Belcher case (which is not really the same thing) imprinting itself on our mind as if it were?

#18 Comment By Don Quijote On December 15, 2012 @ 10:23 am

It’s natural to want to speak about prevention at a time like this, but it’s a dreadful time for a thoughtful debate. One incident rarely proves or disproves anyone’s position, and people tend to emote more than think.

There is never a good time, today isn’t a good time, neither is tomorrow nor the day after. If you doubt me, go see the savaging Bob Costas got on Fox News for daring to discuss Gun Control after the Football player in Kansas City killed is girlfriend and himself.

#19 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 15, 2012 @ 10:31 am

What to do . . .

I doubt there’s a need to do much of anything at all. And whatever is done should be derived by this community as opposed to a national agenda. And though I stand to the rightside of most, I doubt there’s any need to expand carry and conceal measures.

Be grateful that most of don’t succuumb to our worst desires for revenge and acting out against the onslaught of life traumatizing events that shatter our human existence. Be grateful, that these instances are shocking —
Be grateful one doesn’t live in a community in which a death by violance is not shocking.
Be grateful we don’t need armed principles and teachers.

#20 Comment By Thomas Andrews On December 15, 2012 @ 10:36 am

The suggestion has been made that perhaps we should just set aside our personal anti- or pro-gun agendas for the moment and focus on the families affected by this.

That sounds reasonable to me.

Rod, if this is OK, with you, here’s a link to a donation site run by people who won’t abscond with the money:
[7]

Perhaps you’d prefer a conservative Christian group, instead, or no suggestions.

This is a very bad situation. My greatest concern right now is that it be followed up in short order by copy-cats. Feel free, please not to publish this last paragraph!

#21 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 15, 2012 @ 10:40 am

” . . meaningful action . .” Ohhh groan, and uuuuughhh . . .

A man from Chicago that has no clue about those war zone neighborhoods in Detroit, New York, New Orleans, Washing DC, Los Angeles —–

I suggest that the current WH occupant stick to what he knows, academic theory . . . curious he never addeessed meaningful action among the thousand of parents who wrestle with these matters every day —–

I have not looked at the latest research, but as someone who is a practitioner of celibacy prior to marriage. I think teen pregnancy may be down because teens are not rabbits bouncing from bed to bed, but have figured out something their parents hadn’t or haven’t. That is possible to have relationships with women, even intimate relations without engaging in behaviors best expressed in a marriage dynamic.

#22 Comment By Pat On December 15, 2012 @ 11:03 am

“Deranged evil acts don’t happen because guns are widely available. But they are ENABLED because guns are widely available. They are made EASIER because mass-killing weapons are widely available.”

Amen. A friend of mine was in grad school when he decided he needed to murder his roommate. But the city where he lived had a 3-day waiting period for gun purchases; so he went to the sporting goods store and bought a crossbow to murder his roommate with. Somebody saw him walking across campus with a crossbow and called security.

It doesn’t take a draconian ban on weapons to save lives. Making gun purchases just a little more inconvenient would help. The responsible gun owner can navigate a 3-day waiting period, can’t he? Or does he usually buy his hunting rifle at Wal-mart on the way to the deer stand?

#23 Comment By Noah172 On December 15, 2012 @ 11:12 am

Anand at 12/14 9:45 wrote:

As a Christian, I’m reminded that God’s heart aches not just for the 20 children of Newtown dead today, but the hundreds dead in Syria in the last weeks, the thousands dead in the Congo in the last months, the millions dead of hunger and disease over my lifetime.

And I find myself challenged by my hardness of heart. Why are we so heartbroken about the ones who are like us, but not the ones who are not?

Maybe that’s the root of what’s wrong with us.

This is part of the human condition, not a failing peculiar to American culture. I say this as a description, not a defense.

Do the Syrians’ hearts ache for the Congolese? Do the Congolese’ hearts ache for the Syrians? Do the hearts of either ache for the victims of mass shootings in the US?

When Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”, he was speaking to Galilean Jews, not Americans.

#24 Comment By Pat On December 15, 2012 @ 11:16 am

Rosie Land, the white house has an official petitions page. Someone has created a petition there calling for gun legislation at ( [8]. I usually don’t bother with online petitions, but this seems like a good way for the white house to gauge the public’s opinion.

According to Daily Kos, there’s an alternative petition on the site that calls for arming teachers. Something for everybody! I don’t have the URL for that one, though.

#25 Comment By AnotherBeliever On December 15, 2012 @ 11:57 am

I felt yesterday feeling pretty sick and angry about it all. Today I’m trying to tune it out emotionally, let it slow burn on the back burner where it will die down on its own eventually.

There are things to be done. There are reasonable limits to firearms and ammunition and magazines and permits which could potentially be written up as legislation. I am thinking specifically of a ban on high capacity magazines and tracking weapons a little closer. Maybe by the time a piece of legislation was written out by all parties it would be watered down to the point of not being very useful. Maybe the legislation won’t pass in the House. But we could at least have this conversation and put it to a vote.

The other thing that could be done is rethinking our mental health system. As others here have pointed out, a lot of insurance policies offer minimal mental health coverage, with tight limits especially on in-patient care. And of course, many of our most vulnerable citizens (unemployed, working poor, or from difficult backgrounds) have no health insurance coverage at all. Simultaneously, many of those in-patient facilities have been systematically dismantled. There were some real abuses in generations past where harmless but unusual or non-conforming people were locked up for not good reason. But we’ve gone too far the other way, where people who are in danger of harming themselves or others don’t have much in the way of a system of support. You couple this with the strong mental health stigma, where going in to get help from a mental health professional is somehow perceived as a moral failing, while going in for an appendectomy is not. The first one, you would hesitate to tell even close family out of shame, the second might be an interesting discussion around the water cooler a couple weeks later. We can’t keep sweeping these issues under the rug.

And above all, we really are fragmenting and polarizing as a society. In a lot of places we have forgotten how to be a community, a place where everyone is a just a little bit into everyone else’s business. So many houses are faced with prominent garages, you needn’t ever even be seen by your neighbors, let alone meet them and get to know their habits and patterns so that you might notice when something is amiss. Isolated housing developments with no stores or gathering places leave few opportunities to get to know people, and fewer still to get know people different from you. Some would point their fingers only at broken families, but there are plenty of technically intact families that have broken people in them, so that’s not the only problem though certainly, it’s part of it. I just worry that in these big houses in these nice-looking communities, there are people in serious mental pain who simply go unnoticed. Most will not hurt anyone else, but they stand a good chance at self-harm, and that too is something we should try to prevent.

#26 Comment By Don Quijote On December 15, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

And whatever is done should be derived by this community as opposed to a national agenda.

Yeah, cause strict gun laws in Connecticut are going to prevent guns from flowing in from Virginia…

[9]

Federal data show most guns recovered from New York crimes last year originated in states with fewer legal restrictions, though the largest single source is still New York, where nearly 1,600 were first purchased.

The report by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives traced 8,793 guns from New York crimes or investigations. They include 407 guns originally bought in Virginia, 368 in Pennsylvania, 349 in North Carolina, 328 in South Carolina, 341 in Florida and 332 in Georgia.

As soon as a law is put in place that says every single vehicle crossing the border into my state is to be searched, illegal substances confiscated and the drivers and owners banned from ever coming into my state again, it will be a local issue, until then it’s a national issue.

#27 Comment By M_Young On December 15, 2012 @ 1:14 pm

I’m not particularly a gun nut. I’ve shot a total of 47 rounds in my life, none in anger. (Gotta say, shooting does give a frisson of power). I think that waiting periods are reasonable, background checks, even mandatory classes and strict gun storage regulations.

However, I find it amazing that people here would vacate or otherwise interfere with a right that is so clearly in the constitution, while getting so protective of a ‘right’ to engage in certain sexual practices which [10]

Seems to me liberals are all about whose rights are being violated. Gun nuts=bad, so ignore their rights spelled out plainly in the constitution, sexual minorities=good, so invent a right for them that is nowhere to be found in the text of the constitution.

And before you say that guns are just for murder — within two miles of where I write, within the last two years, guns have been used to foil robbery. And I live in a fairly good area!

#28 Comment By Church Lady On December 15, 2012 @ 1:56 pm

PA15017,

Thanks for that explanation. I understand what you mean, and people on the left do feel the same way on some issues. But I have to say that I still have to reject this sort of strategy as being incredibly harmful and paralyzing to the actual creating of sensible policies, because it means that all forms of reasonable compromise are anathema, and seen as giving in to the enemy, and the beginning of a slippery slope. It makes the entire political playing field one gigantic slippery slope, with no room for any sort of middle ground. And it makes anyone willing to compromise into some sort of idiot who doesn’t see that the opposition is always Hitler at Munich, preparing for the next in his series of demands.

Let’s be clear: liberals are not Nazis. There certainly are extremes on our side, and people who have long term goals you wouldn’t like. But foregoing sane and sensible policies in the present doesn’t make those extremes any less likely. In fact, I would suggest that it actually makes them more likely. If the only political choices are these extremes, I would say that it makes the extreme you don’t like even more likely to garner support, rather than the moderate middle.

For example, the right’s incredible opposition to Obamacare, which is really just a middle, even a middle right compromise on health care, had convinced a lot of leftists that what we really need to do is go full bore for national health care, and not bother compromising, since that would be pointless and impossible. If Roberts hadn’t voted to support Obamacare, that attitude would have become dominant. And then, if you end up losing that debate, you end up losing everything. With no capacity to compromise, you really are creating the very situation that you feared.

The heart of politics is compromise. And this is why politics in our time is so degenerate, and polarized. I mean, does raising taxes on the rich back to Clintonian levels really mean we are headed back to post-WWII 90% taxation rates? Really? No, in fact, that compromise actually reduces that possibility, just as Robert’s decision actually reduces the likelihood of nationalized health care.

As for gun control, compromise really would make a gun ban much less likely, by reducing the heat on the issue. But if there is no compromise, eventually the only two positions are total gun freedom, or a gun ban, and if you lose that, you lose all your guns.

Now, who knows what the future holds? The world and our country may end up giving up on guns altogether, and it will be seen as a weird anachronism. That’s up to future voters to decide for themselves, how they want to live. Or maybe we all live in a medieval post-apocalyptic future in which everyone carries, even kindergarteners. We can’t let the present be held hostage to fears of some extremist future that will probably never come to pass, or if it does, people will actually like it that way. And really, shouldn’t a Christian want to turn his swords into plowshares anyway? Why hold onto guns as if they are some sacred right, when they are actually an abomination we should all want to be done with?

#29 Comment By ossicle On December 15, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

JohnE_o,

Apologies, there have been about 100 comments since your reply to me on 12/14 @ 4:40pm.

I acknowledge that your points could be good ones. An informed response far exceeds my knowledge and expertise!

-O

#30 Comment By AnotherBeliever On December 15, 2012 @ 3:55 pm

Church Lady, I like your points about compromise. You are right, compromise has become a dirty word lately and that doesn’t help anyone. It turns us all against each other, when in saner times we could agree to disagree and still find some common ground to meet on, where both sides were willing to give up a little to accomplish a goal everyone more or less agreed on. In that world, no one is completely happy, but life goes on. In our world we have political gridlock and the “culture wars” which paint our political opponents as enemies of the state, instead of fellow Americans we happen to disagree with on some issues.

#31 Comment By M_Young On December 15, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

“And really, shouldn’t a Christian want to turn his swords into plowshares anyway? Why hold onto guns as if they are some sacred right, when they are actually an abomination we should all want to be done with?”

Wait, isn’t this a secular republic where policy is not to be based on religion?

But anyway, you are wrong. Christ himself implicitly endorsed weapons ownership.

“Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11

Notice, not ‘get rid of that thing, Pedro’, but ‘put in back in it its holder’.

#32 Comment By The Wet One On December 15, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

I am getting the sense, from these comments, that nothing will be done to prevent future tragedies like the one that occurred yesterday.

Well, I guess. It’s a free and democratic country after all and if the decision of the demos is that this (massacres that is) is a price we’re willing to pay for our 2nd ammendment rights, then so be it.

I don’t quite know how to respond to that, but when the next massacre occurs in the U.S., I’ll just have to remark to myself and those around me in an amazed fashion that this is what America chose for itself.

So it goes…

#33 Comment By Richard Johnson On December 15, 2012 @ 8:01 pm

“When Jesus said, “For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?”, he was speaking to Galilean Jews, not Americans.”

Interesting. Is it your contention then, Noah172, that since the target audience in this instance was Galilean Jews, we Americans can ignore this “advice” given in Scripture?

If so, should we apply this principle to other passages as well?

#34 Comment By Richard Johnson On December 15, 2012 @ 9:23 pm

sdb: “@rj there is a difference between 160 character chatter and endless loops of video footage of weeping kids with an image of the murderer superimposed on the screen.”

It’s not just 160 character chatter.

[11]

A smartphone with access to Twitter can get links to live video and pictures. SMS messaging can contain similar links, as well as photos. iMessage can contain embedded video snippets recorded by the phone, as can other messaging apps.

Recall that during the Arab Spring movement we were receiving live news feeds, with pictures and in some cases video, through mobile Twitter apps used in the middle of the protests. No superimposition of images. No editing choice by a news bureau chief. Just raw footage for the taking to anyone with a Twitter client.

160 characters…more than you might think.

#35 Comment By Richard Johnson On December 15, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

M_Young: “But anyway, you are wrong. Christ himself implicitly endorsed weapons ownership.

“Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up your sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father has given me, shall I not drink it?” John 18:11

“Notice, not ‘get rid of that thing, Pedro’, but ‘put in back in it its holder’.”

Ah, but wait. Jesus also talked a bit about the number of weapons needed.

Luke 22:35-38

Then Jesus said to them, “When I sent you out with no money bag, or traveler’s bag, or sandals, you didn’t lack 93 anything, did you?” They replied, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now, the one who has a money bag must take it, and likewise a traveler’s bag too. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me is being fulfilled.” So they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” Then he told them, “It is enough.

Note a couple points…

1) Jesus said that the one who lacked a sword should buy one. Not ten, not fifty, and not three hundred. One.

2) Jesus told them that two swords would be enough for the 12 of them (remember, Judas was elsewhere fulfilling prophecy, not going to the garden until later). Not everyone needed a sword.

And then we have this, from verses 49 through 51 of the same chapter.

“When those who were around him saw what was about to happen, they said, “Lord, should we use our swords?” Then one of them struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus said, “Enough of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.”

One of them didn’t wait for the command to attack, and instead took off freelancing. (See, with only two swords you still had one showoff). Jesus stopped him, healed the poor servant who had the ear job, and let things happen.

So, if we say that Jesus endorsed private weapon ownership, we must also say that everyone was limited to one weapon, and that a group of twelve people only needed two swords, and they would be yelled at if they used them out of turn.

Are you sure you want to play the proof-texting game, M_Young?

#36 Comment By PM On December 15, 2012 @ 10:08 pm

Saint Andeol, …this kind of evil and insanity that doesn’t care which way the political winds are blowing. It makes me feel foolish to think how angry I get sometimes over the words strangers type online.

I would gently challenge this. Ideas have consequences, and this is probably why you get so angry at “words strangers type online”. It all starts with ideas. Sin is in the mind before it’s on the streets.

Mainstream culture is currently violating natural law in a big way…and this always ends with collapse…and with a lot of violence and death along the way…it’s worth a little anger.

#37 Comment By M_Young On December 15, 2012 @ 10:56 pm

“1) Jesus said that the one who lacked a sword should buy one. Not ten, not fifty, and not three hundred. One.”

Thanks Richard. I had forgotten that not only had Jesus not forbidden the possession of arms, He actually required it.

#38 Comment By Richard Johnson On December 16, 2012 @ 12:46 am

RJ: “1) Jesus said that the one who lacked a sword should buy one. Not ten, not fifty, and not three hundred. One.”

M_Young: “Thanks Richard. I had forgotten that not only had Jesus not forbidden the possession of arms, He actually required it.”

Ah yes, but do not forget the other part of that. He only allows one. To paraphrase Monty Python, “when counting the number of one’s firearms, one shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be one. Two shalt thou not count, neither count thou three. Once the number one, being the first number, be reached, then thou shalt safely store thy holy weapon, lest an innocent naif shall find it and ask you, “what happens when I push this”, and in doing so, shall snuff it.”

Amen

#39 Comment By Glaivester On December 16, 2012 @ 9:02 am

Interesting. Is it your contention then, Noah172, that since the target audience in this instance was Galilean Jews, we Americans can ignore this “advice” given in Scripture?

Boy, you are determined to be a troll here by misinterpreting everyone, aren’t you? Reading the previous paragraph, it is obvious that what Noah172 meant was that lack of concern for other people was just as big a problem in first-century Galilee as it is today.

The point being, lack of concern for people you don’t have any particular reason to like is not a culture-specific problem; if you want to correct it, you need to deal with it as a human problem, not as some strange quirk of culture.

#40 Comment By Church Lady On December 16, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

M_Young,

I wasn’t addressing public policy in speaking about Christianity, but the gun culture itself, which is something many Christians are invested in.

And your reading of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane seems pretty odd. Here was a circumstance that self-defense advocates would have no problem using weapons for. The Lord was about to be arrested and put on trial for blasphemy, which everyone knows carries a death sentence. And yet Jesus said sheath those swords. If they are not to be used then, when?

Combine this with his famed “turn the other cheek” and “love your enemy” admonitions, and the case is not looking very good for a heavily armed Christian culture ready to use their weapons at a moment’s notice.

#41 Comment By Church Lady On December 16, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the story about the money bag and the sword seems to me to be an argument against his disciples having possessions to defend. He seems to be arguing that, when they were poor, they had no fear of being robbed, but now that they were carrying money bags around, they had to carry swords too. Seems like he’s seeing money itself as the problem, that creates the need for violence, weapons, etc. Which is why he advocated a vow of poverty for his disciples, so that they would not have any need to carry weapons.

#42 Comment By M_Young On December 16, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

“Ah yes, but do not forget the other part of that. He only allows [requires] one. ”

Fine with me, guess I better run out at get me the one weapon like Christ — and the Founding Fathers — require me to own. After all, if its good enough for Jesus and George Washington, it’s good enough for me.

#43 Comment By EliteCommInc. On December 16, 2012 @ 8:03 pm

[Note from Rod: In early 2013, a teenage boy from my town will go on trial for first-degree murder. In 2010, he jumped out of the bushes and slaughtered an eight-year-old boy who was riding a nature trail with his family. This all took place in a country-club/Arnold Palmer golf course housing development, where the murderer lived (there is no question that he did it; he has pled not guilty by reason of insanity, and from what I’m told by people who have seen him in jail, he is almost certainly quite psychotic). The murderer was from a good family, they say, and certainly a well-off family, and he made excellent grades. And yet, he was, it appears, criminally insane. You never know. — RD]

And it is in that gap of uncertainty I see room for serious breeches in our freedoms —- in the name of pre-emption protection.

I whole heartedly agree insanity and intelligence are not synonymous.

#44 Comment By Church Lady On December 16, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

Rod, think what that teenage boy might have done if his Mom had an assault rifle instead of a kitchen knife to take. It could have been a lot worse.