By Sonny Scott
The news is as oppressive as the weather. The deranged continue to teach us about ourselves – things like: human freedom and orderly, lawful societies are at odds. Malcontents, the anti-social, and the downright maniacal we always have with us.
“God made man, but Sam Colt made them equal,” claimed the old advertising slogan. Maybe, but Colt gave the psychopath a tremendous advantage over the sane. Since Sampson seized the moment with Philistines crowded into a temple, mad men have chosen to wreak their fantasies upon the unsuspecting and unprepared. Guns, easily concealed and deadly efficient, allow a psycho to have his way with crowds.
Each incident of mass murder presses the refresh button for our national debate about weapons. No matter how many more such events we endure, this debate will not move off dead center. Some can be counted on to raise the cry for fewer guns, while others are just as faithful to point out the fallacies in their arguments. A point not often raised is that mass murders routinely take place in police states by means of bombs. A psycho with guns may kill dozens, but bombers routinely kill scores. Timothy McVeigh didn’t use a gun, did he?
Our fascination with gory detail and insatiable appetite for “live, on the scene reports” make it certain that tomorrow’s unbalanced psycho is having his fervid imagination stimulated by today’s media. Our cult of celebrity (not easy to distinguish from a cult of infamy) assures that the next copy-cat will try to go the previous psycho one better. Restrict the dissemination of information about mass killings? Uh, the First Amendment forbids it. Get rid of the guns? The Second Amendment is as sacrosanct as the first.
“That guy’s gonna hurt somebody someday.” How many times have each of us heard or said it? Errol Castens points out that in years past, unbalanced people were confined for fear that they would harm someone. Prior restraint and deprivation of liberty without due process of law is not permitted (the pesky Fifth Amendment). We are reluctant to lock up the unbalanced, and we suffer from the acts of some. Mass killers are less likely than the homeless junkie to be clearly crazy, but as the Aurora incident shows, some of these guys have already made somebody uneasy. What do you do? Say too much to the wrong person, and you face slander or libel charges or the wrath of a madman.
It is not the gun that gives the psycho his biggest advantage – it’s his imagination. The unbalanced person can see himself committing outrages that the mind of the sane cannot comprehend. I had rather take my chances with the cold-eyed killer with a gun than the suicide bomber with his plastic explosive or even a hip flask of gasoline and Bic lighter in a crowded venue.
Speaking of fanatics, the wonderful folks at Westboro Baptist Church are at it again. They created a national scandal by staging protests at the funerals of soldiers killed in action. Now, they take to the social media to encourage their “followers” to harass an actor, telling him that the death of his son is God’s judgment. They’ve weighed in with similarly “helpful” comments on the Wisconsin slayings. Well, if you think Elijah’s slaying the prophets of Baal by the brook Kishon was his finest hour, I suppose no cruelty is beyond you.
Currently making the rounds on the internet: “Let’s ask the Christian owner of a restaurant chain that isn’t open on Sunday his view on gay marriage and act surprised and outraged when we don’t like his answer.” Seems as if we’re defining “hate” downward, and like Forest Gump, “That’s all I’m gonna say about that.”
Back when the “Big Bang” was the new topic in cosmology, I remember browsing a magazine in a waiting room. After a survey of (then) current theory, the author concluded with something like this: When physicists finally solve all theoretical problems and mount the last ridge that obscures a unified theory of existence, will they find theologians there to ask, “What took you so long?”
If so, social theorists and psychologists will surely be tagging along trying to piece together the puzzle of human nature. These may find moralists and philosophers sitting by the theologians to say, “Boys, the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”
Sonny Scott is a Chickasaw County resident and a community columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.