12/22/12

A Nation of Idiots

Idiot #1 - Wayne La Pierre
I knew yesterday's announcement would be depressing, but underestimated the man. Armed guards. That's the way to prevent another Newtown.  Let the bad guys keep their guns, and give more guns to the good guys. He wants trained volunteers to guard our schools.  Now--I would not reject that idea entirely. If off-duty police officers wanted to guard our neighborhood elementary school, I'd think--"can't hurt!" But anybody can see that's not a complete solution -- not even close.  The kids come out of the school at regular intervals.  Anyone with an appropriate weapon could easily slaughter them as they leave at the end of the day and congregate in front of the school. They come out for recess. They come out to board buses that take them to another school to participate in a talented and gifted program.   Even when kids are inside the school, sitting in classrooms, it's not obvious that an armed guard could stop an intruder. The element of surprise, plus having the right weapons, would give the next killer a huge advantage.  Which is not to say security guards are completely useless--they're just (obviously) not the whole answer. 

Idiot #2 - Charlotte Allen
This completely boggles the mind.  She says the problem at Newtown was the "feminized" environment.  All the employees at the school were female. Not good, she says, because
a feminized setting is a setting in which helpless passivity is the norm. Male aggression can be a good thing, as in protecting the weak — but it has been forced out of the culture of elementary schools and the education schools that train their personnel. Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of male teachers who had played high-school football, or even some of the huskier 12-year-old boys, had converged on Lanza.
Passivity?  But several of these teachers bravely confronted the shooter and paid the ultimate price. One of them died -- Victoria Soto -- by staying in her classroom to misdirect the shooter away from the children.  In the face of this sort of bravery, Ms. Allen thinks 12 year old boys would have been more effective?  What a grotesque insult to the memory of these courageous teachers.  And besides, it's bullshit.  For one, there actually were two male employees at the school. For another, men probably wouldn't have helped. At Aurora there were lots of men in the movie theater, and yet the shooter killed dozens of people. The men mostly did what the female teachers did--they shielded their loved ones and died in the process. At Virginia Tech there were plenty of male students and they died like the female students. What people like Allen can't admit to themselves is that lethal weapons make everyone powerless, whether male or female.  It's the assault weapons that makes the death toll so high in these situations, not the gender of the victims.   

Idiot #3 - Mike Huckabee
Every time I turn on the car radio, there's Mike Huckabee, proposing yet another ludicrous way of not saying guns are to blame for the Newtown massacre.  What's to blame is not enough prayer in the schools.  On another day, what's to blame is that parents aren't using enough corporal punishment on their kids. Kids don't have enough respect for their elders.  The funny thing about his reasoning is that he allows himself any speculation on earth, so long as it doesn't involve guns.  When guns comes up, suddenly he's a tough-minded critical thinker.  He wants proof, proof, proof!  As far as I know, that proof is easy to find (lots of good facts and links from Massimo Pigliucci, here), but it's never enough. And then he's back to the prayer issue, and respect, and video games, and of course no evidence is needed!

Idiot #4 -- The Liberal Ideologue
This will be an unnamed idiot because I have in mind various and sundry people, not one specific voice.  The liberal ideologue is as adamant as the conservative about what needs to be taken off the table.  We must not talk about mental illness, since we have compassion for the mentally ill and legitimate concerns about their rights.  We must not talk about violent video games, because we care so much about having a free and open entertainment industry.  We must not talk about ...  Well, basically we must not talk about anything but guns.  For the liberal ideologue it's not enough to view weapons as a central part of the problem. It's got to be the whole problem.

***

In the face of such a horrendous, heart-breaking event--the brutal murder of all those little kids and their teachers--you'd think people would be willing to set aside biases and ideologies.   Hopefully the idiots are on the fringes of the post-Newtown debate, and they're not going to prevail. 

4 comments:

ianbargain said...

I'm not sure why you would concede - "can't hurt". I'm sure it would result in quiet a few kids getting tasered. It has happened even when some schools called the police for some mis-behaving kid and then regretted it. In any case, if I recall correctly Columbine had an armed guard.

Jean Kazez said...

The armed guards at Columbine (2 of them) did try to kill the shooters and narrowly missed (at a point when 11 of the dead were still alive). I can't say this near-success was completely pointless. At my kids' pre-school after 9/11 I believe there was an armed guard, which made everyone at least feel better. We have armed guards all over the place--at banks, at airports. Why would I want to say they have no place at schools? I wouldn't object at all if there were a police officer stationed at my kids' school now (there is, for all I know). What seems bonkers is not wanting that, but thinking it's a substitute for gun control.

swallerstein said...

Hello Jean,

First of all, I want to wish you a good holiday season.

You're right in your post above as usual, which irritates me a bit.

Before getting immersed in so much or too much philosophy, I had always seen philosophy as Michel Foucaultian, that philosophy would expose the lies and rationalizations behind well-balanced, rational common sense.

What would Foucault have to say about Newtown?

You're kind of the opposite of Foucault, the voice of well-balanced, rational common sense and in general, you're right, not always and you do have your biases, as we all do, but Foucault is not a good bet to point one towards a good life.


Probably, the problem with well-balanced, rational common sense is that if we stop fooling ourselves, most of us are capable of doing it on our own rather than reading books or blogs or debating it, so while Foucault stimulates debate and seminars and even political movements, well-balanced rational common sense is so prosaic and banal that I don't have anything new to say.

Foucault, by the way, is only a metaphor. I prefer Sartre.


Have a good holiday season.

Deepak Shetty said...

Since I attended Xmas mass in a catholic church
Idiot #5(the priest) - The problem is that these days there is too much divorce and abortion(4 million babies!) - too much I,me ,myself and not enough family.

(also a really offensive - if you are catholic you will care about everyone who died - if you are not , then you have no reason to care about innocent murdered children)