April 20, 2007

A few days ago… a lonely, disturbed kid made a horrible decision and killed a lot of people who didn’t have to die.

Now that we’ve grieved for a few minutes… the American people are going to do what we always do: We’re going to buy tee-shirts with slogans of solidarity on them… we’re going to find someone to blame… and in the process, we’re going to overlook what the real problems are.  After about a month, when the news ratings start to fall, and FOX News has redefined its own shamefulness in the manner in which they report what’s going on (Geraldo Rivera interviewing a sobbing mother, asking her how this might affect her vote… or something equally obscene), we’ll forget all about it like we did with 9/11 and Columbine and Oklahoma City… we’ll go back to worrying about which American Idol Paula Abudul is fucking, and what the color of Madonna’s new baby will be… and it’ll be as if nothing ever happened.

It’s what we do.  It’s the tell-tale sign of a vapid public – empty, soulless citizens of a defunct ideal, long since dead.  We’re no damn good.

Matt said something really interesting to me tonight… he said that on some level, though he wasn’t sure why… the VA Tech shootings hit him harder than 9/11 did.  As odd as that sounded… I kindof understood. 

As horrible as 9/11 was… there was a reason for it.  Not a justification, mind you… nothing justifies the killing of innocent people… I mean that there were several reasons that led to what happened six years ago.  America’s blind support of Israel… which, in my opinion, is as much a terrorist state as any other in the region.  We earned 9/11 after nearly 40 years of our country molesting the Middle East for oil – installing corrupt madmen as puppet leaders, sensitive to our needs and desires… turning a blind eye to whatever suffering may have been the result.  We created Osama Bin Laden.  We created Saddam Hussein.  We trained them, installed them, funded them and then, in some way or another, whether truly or in their estimation, we betrayed them.  We’ve run up a killer tab with the middle east… and 9/11 was us paying up our debt.

Sadly… the interest was just too high to handle… and what happened was without a doubt one of the most horrible examples of human cruelty I’ve ever had the misfortune to see… but still… those of us who actually pay attention could make sense of it.  There was a reason… even if it was a bad one.

But this… a broken, psychopathic kid killing 32 innocent kids… college students and professors… people who were learning and expanding their minds and becoming… there’s no way to work your mind around that.  It’s so random… so senseless… it’s so completely surreal, that it terrifies me.  We could throw billions into defense, and search every plane properly (which we should do… only intelligently, and with a real focus on actually protecting American citizens, rather than just rigging it to look like it works).  We could take the necessary steps to combat terrorism by training our intelligence operatives better… we could work on our foreign diplomacy to smooth shit out in the area… we could fight real wars, and not engage in bloody political distractions.  We could help mollify the percolating tensions in Africa… and feed the hungry, and house the homeless and become that beacon for hope and justice that we always say we are… and in doing so, reestablish America as a truly great nation – it would bring our friends back… mend our fences… it would strip our enemies of their rhetoric, and only add ammunition to our stockpiles.  There are ways to fight terrorism.

But there’s no way to stop a sick kid from killing everyone in sight.  It’s just too random. 

So what’s the answer?  "Life sucks?"  "Better luck next time?"  No… there has to be a solution… rather… there has to be a part of the problem that we can approach.

I have a question – while everyone under the sun is asking why?  Why did he do it?  Why weren’t the cops there?  Why was the campus still open?  I’m going to ask – why was this kid able to buy two handguns?  Moreover… why is anyone allowed to buy two handguns?

Altering the Constitution is a dangerous game.  Adding a further amendment to the constitution… amending the 2nd amendment sets a dangerous precedent.  (at this point lets pretend like this is actually possible… which I realize it isn’t)  While I’m morally opposed to guns entirely, and feel that no man has the right to own a weapon designed to kill  – I also recognize that the constitution provides that right for us.  And while I may disagree… and as terrified as I am of guns… I’m further scared of the prospect of setting a precedent for changing the rules of this country.  In other words – if we agree that the 2nd amendment is no longer relevant in our society… and that its philosophies are no longer of any value to us… we set ourselves down a very steep… very slippery slope.  If we can ditch the 2nd amendment – it sets a precedent to ditch any other.  Guns first… then free speech… then religion… then press… it’s a nightmare.

So I reluctantly accept that to be an American, I have to live with guns – much in the same way that I’ve accepted that to live in this country I have to put up with SUV’s, soccer camp, country music and guys in pink polo shirts.  I dont like it… in fact I harbor a psychotic hatred for it… but it’s the way it is.

I’m willing to capitulate… for both our sakes… but there’s a problem.

Tonight I heard a man suggest on the news that the problem with the whole VA Tech disaster was that a recent ban on a student’s right to carry a firearm on campus left them wide open to the attack.  That, in some twisted way, arming our students would have spared them.

How is the answer to solving gun violence more guns?  How does this work?  That’s like pouring water on a drowning man.  One crazy kid blasting lead all over the place isn’t enough?  We need crossfire, too? 

Maybe what we need is to accept that our forefathers never intended for their distant, American brethren to be toting around 15 round semi-automatic handguns, small enough to fit in your pocket, capable of laying to waste an entire room full of engineering students.  Maybe we have to all bend a bit when it comes to guns – I’ll let you shoot deer (even though I think it’s cruel) and at paper targets… but for me, you have to only own rifles and shotguns.

A handgun has only one purpose – to shoot and kill another human being.  Rifles are for deer… shotguns are for birds… and handguns are for turning a robber into swiss cheese.  Rather… that’s what it’s intended for… in reality, by the statistics, handguns are really more for shooting your teenage son in the guts as he’s sneaking back into his room after getting in late from his date with the cute redhead from his Biology class. 

I don’t understand the desire people have for guns.  While I appreciate the desire to protect yourself… lets be honest here… most people don’t fall victim to intruders sneaking into their beds at night and killing them while they sleep.  We’re not a nation of James Bonds… most of us have uneventful nights… rolling around, farting, drooling and sometimes – if we’re lucky – having a little sex dream about the cute redhead from our biology class.  Psycho-killers don’t stalk the streets of Anytown, USA… at least, not enough to warrant a gun in every household.  The idea of arming every home is born from the same rusty logic that suggests that college students would be better off if they were all packing heat.  A tech-9 for Bobby… and a cute, pearl-handled .22 for Jenny from your Ceramics class.  It’s crazy.

Furthermore… what does it say about these people that they’d kill an intruder?  If someone wanted to steal my shit… and I had a choice… let them take my DVD player, or tear a chunk out of his skull… I’d go with the former.  They’re just things.  That’s all.  It’s just your property.  It’s just stuff.  Is it worth killing a man over?

More guns isn’t the answer.  Less guns is the answer.  No guns is my fervent fucking prayer.

In the wake of a tragedy wherein 32 innocent students and professors were brutally gunned down like dogs… Americans are suggesting that we all get armed. 


I’ve never been more ashamed of my country than I am right now.

It’s a shame that this sentiment has become so recurrent these days.

I wish Kurt were here…


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