Why even talk about it?
19 April 2007, 4:31 PM
I hate to even talk about the Virginia Tech murders. So I won’t, in any detail. But it occurred to me that the surprising thing is that this sort of event doesn’t happen more often.
We know that there are crazy people in the world, and in particular that there are people who are crazy in that particular way. There are enough of them that every few months, one of them starts killing people. But there aren’t enough of them that it happens every few days. Why not? It’s not, on the whole, a lack of opportunity; we live in a free society, which means that anybody who really wants to kill a bunch of people and doesn’t care about living through it will be able to. That would be true even with restrictive gun laws, by the way, and I support restrictive gun laws.
Digression: I have again seen the argument that if more people carried guns more often, some gunsel would have incapacitated the murderer earlier in the spree. Even if this is true—and YHB remains unconvinced—the thirty or so people that could conceivably have been saved don’t balance against the people who would be killed if more people carried guns more often. Again, we’re balancing counter-factuals, which is never going to be really persuasive, but to my mind, it comes down to this: Very few of us are crazy enough to kill a dozen people, but many of us are crazy enough (at some point in our lives) to kill one person. The point of restrictive gun laws is to try to minimize the likelihood that a person will have a gun to hand when that crazy moment happens. Well, and accidents, and all kinds of other things, too. End digression.
If killing sprees never happened, or happened only once every ten years or so, I would think that they were just really, really rare, and that would be the end of it. But they aren’t that rare. Now, it could just be that my sense of humanity is very far off, which is often the case. Maybe it’s not the case that such things are either very, very rare or moderately common. I mean, out of three hundred million people (or so) in the country, my instinct is that susceptibility to spree madness should be either something found in three people or three million people, and I don’t know why. Also, of course, I have a sense that most people who are susceptible like that never (thank the Divine) wind up actually killing people, and I have idea what I base that on.
Anyway. No point here. Just a sense of senselessness, as well as a vague sense that (as with international terrorism) any individual event is a shock, but that the real surprise is that it doesn’t happen more often.
Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,