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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. Author of FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND THE SECULAR STATE (2012), HUMANITY ENHANCED (2014), and THE MYSTERY OF MORAL AUTHORITY (2016).

Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Connecticut school massacre - the news is still crazy (and horrible)

The news continues to be a rollercoaster of craziness and nastiness. The most prominent news this morning, all over the Western world, relates to a gun massacre at a school in the US. I don't intend to comment on it in any substantial way at this stage - better, I think, to allow some more facts to come out, and to get at least a bit of emotional distance.

All I can say, for what it's worth, is that I feel for all the grieving families, and for everyone connected with Sandy Hook Elementary School, and for all in Newtown, Connecticut, and beyond who have been caught up by this. It defies belief that such things can happen in a modern, civilized country such as the United States.

I'll leave it for others to discuss the cultural causes of such events and what can be done to stop them from happening. If I were a politician, I'd have to come up with some glib view. However, I'm neither a politician nor an expert on the subject. So I'll leave it, again at least for now, simply by expressing my sorrow and horror at this appalling, senseless event.

5 comments:

Russell Blackford said...

Three comments deleted above - not one person among them wrote something dignified and on topic. One even accused me of being personally implicated in "spreading the madness". I don't know whether this referred to my involvement in the atheist movement, my involvement in the Terminator franchise, or something else entirely.

But really, people, surely this is a time to show some dignity and restraint.

M. F. McAuliffe said...

There was an excellent essay by Jeff Sparrow on Overland, some months ago, which analyzes the mass-shootings problem in terms of political paradigms... AND examines the issue of gun control in the U.S. It's a very nuanced piece:

http://overland.org.au/blogs/new-words/2012/08/when-the-burning-moment-breaks-gun-control-and-rage-massacres/

John Fox said...

I don't claim to have exemplified the virtues you commend, but I approve entirely of your call for dignity and restraint. I commented on another blog, which blamed the massacre on a host of things the blogger considered, not unreasonably, to be wrong with American society, as follows:

I have read stuff blaming the massacre (via God's punishment) on Connecticut legalizing same-sex marriage; on removing Christian prayers from public schools; on guns being too available; on guns not being available enough; on maleness; and now, it seems, on cuts in education, about computer games and television violence, among other things. A few of these things I don't like myself. But whether I agree with the politics or values or not, I feel queasy about this rush to enlist all these children's corpses to promote one's cause. Surely it's a time for shared grief and compassion, a time to unite in this. Rather, it seems, there is an outpouring of highly condemnatory polarising, of intensifying the blame we attach to people who disagree with our analyses or preferences or causal hypotheses, by telling them they are obliquely responsible for mass murders of little kids. Even if we think that without realising it they were, surely the decent thing might be to shut up about it for a week.

Russell Blackford said...

^Yup. As may become clear later, I do actually support gun control laws, But we get all these different axes to grind, some of them seemingly crazy (such as the "God's punishment" ones), and so much undignified ranting.

Jason Streitfeld said...

I would agree with John Fox, if all of those hypotheses were equally plausible and reasonable. But the arguments for stricter gun laws in the US are so clear and reasonable, it is actually a little offensive to tell people they should shut up about it, even if only temporarily. Americans have a right to be angry with the NRA and its supporters, and that anger should not be silenced, especially not when it is most inflamed.