Tuesday, January 11, 2011

David Brooks on the Arizona Shootings

When something as horrible as the rampage in Arizona occurs it does force us to consider some issues very carefully, and David Brooks, as usual, takes a careful look at the events in Arizona. Most importantly, he suggests based on reasonable evidence that the shooter suffers from schizophrenia. Of those who do suffer from this disease, a small sub-group are violent. We, as a society, have to learn how to deal with such individuals. Brooks goes on to contest the narrative that this individual acted because of inflamed political rhetoric. Yes and no. No, in the sense that he may not have been even capable of rational (in any sense of the word) political thinking, but yes in the sense that I wrote about yesterday. I just don't believe words of hatred and invective don't have an effect, especially on the weak-minded (for lack of a better term).

We saw this problem raised in Michael Mooore's "Bowling for Columbine". Moore ranged over a wide territory in attempting the assess what occurred in those horrible shootings. Is it the gun culture? Is it the perpetual war machine that we support? Is it some ideology? In the end, Moore convinced me of nothing. He raised a lot of interesting questions and displayed a lot of interesting associations, but his work can only raise questions, it doesn't provide answers (his intention notwithstanding). We need deep, serious thought and study about how to address individuals like those at Columbine and this shooter. Strongly alienated, disaffected males (yes, males, let's not go PC on any of this). I, for one, think that access to firearms is way too easy.But restrictions on access to firearm isn't a complete answer. We've had two rampage murder-suicides here in Johnson County since I've practiced here, so these challenges are not limited to Arizona or to gun-happy cultures. No, we need to think deeply and hard about all of this. There are no easy answers.

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