I’ve seen the flag at half-mast too many times in my young life.
What happened in Vegas earlier this week is horrible. That goes without saying.
I hesitated to write anything in the immediate aftermath to allow events to develop, and not to rush to judgement about anything. I also hesitated because it’s getting way, way too routine to have to do this.
There’s a paradox here; I love the true crime genre, but I hate people getting hurt. I justify this to myself that reading and watching true crime brings us to a better understanding of justice, and to a better understanding of evil. As much as human beings can comprehend evil.
More about rushing to judgement…
Some have claimed it’s not the time to talk about gun violence in America. These same people never bring it up…except in the wake of a mass shooting. By now, I think, it is clear that this is a uniquely American problem. American gun laws are uniquely lax in the developed world.
Moreover, if the NRA supports the existing ban on federal funds for research on gun violence, I think we can all safely assume it’s because they think the findings would be unflattering.
That we don’t even enable research into this uniquely American problem is a disgrace.
If we don’t understand the causes of gun violence, we have no hope of preventing it in an effective way.
In another rush to judgement, mental illness has been suggested as the primary cause of the massacre in Las Vegas, and better mental health care proposed as an answer.
While I agree there is a desperate need for better access to mental health services, I point out that most mentally ill people are not a threat to others.
There is, so far, little evidence that the Vegas shooter had mental health issues. Moreover, the intensive planning we now know went into this crime indicates the perpetrator knew what he was doing and attempted to conceal it because he knew others would view it as wrong; even if some underlying suicidal impulses or anger issues come to light, his premeditation excludes him as “criminally insane” as recognized by most courts.
Perhaps it is a kind of benign, charming naiveté to believe that a “sane” person could not murder almost sixty of his fellow human beings and wound hundreds more for seemingly no reason.
Behind that charm, however, I fear there is an ongoing assumption that “crazy” and “evil” are synonymous. It is this assumption, along with others, that stigmatizes mental health issues and discourages access to mental health care.
Whatever complex web of motives and drives that led to the Las Vegas shooting emerges, I propose the following:
Evil is real.
Now, what are you doing to thwart it?
May I suggest calling your elected officials and telling them you oppose the Dickey Amendment? If you get the answering machine, keeping trying. That means it’s working.