Specifically, horrifying violence like the Newtown atrocity.
As I said in a previous post, the peak year for mass killings in the United States was 1929. Violent crime has actually decreased substantially in just the last five years. And yet, even with all that, we react in genuine–and maybe not so genuine–horror each time we hear about an episode of mass death.
Most people living in the 21st century recognize that crime can lead to violence on a large scale. When the local Latin Kings faction goes to war against their rival Folk Nation set in some South Side Chicago social dysfunction hell-hole, sane people will denounce the death and destruction that inevitably ensues. Yet, on an intellectual level, they’ll understand why this sort of violence occurs. The massive revenue streams that come from drugs, gambling, prostitution and other criminal rackets aren’t controlled with stern looks and strongly worded letters.
People tend to get why two gang cliques would fight and die to maintain possession of turf. People hate what criminals do to the innocent victims. They’ll denounce the gangs that create mass death. But citizens also grasp the ugly reality that drives our modern crime wars.
In a way, there is a cold comfort to be found in processing out the cause-and-effect of most crimes. By doing that a person can figure out how to deal with the problem, at least on a personal level. They can shun places they know are high-crime areas. They can encourage friends and family to stay away from gangs. They can organize neighborhood watch programs. They can take any number of positive steps to avoid becoming a victim.
On the other hand, when a mass killing like the Newtown occurs, it is in every sense of the word irrational. There is no identifiable cause. As of this writing, nobody can discern why the Newtown monster committed this abhorrent act. He wasn’t fighting to protect his turf. He wasn’t avenging a fallen gang-banger in his clique. He wasn’t even trying to intimidate a rival. So far as we can tell, the Sandy Hook shooting is truly a random act of violence. It’s the kind of violence that could occur anywhere at anytime to anybody.
The human mind can’t really comprehend the brand of death brought by the Newtown atrocity. It’s almost impossible to deal with, because there is no understandable cause-and-effect to take solace in when an insane person commits mass murder for no reason. When something like this happens, it overwhelms rational thinking. Especially when it first occurs, it creates an immediate and powerful fear response.
A persons’ reaction to something like Newtown is very different from his reaction to the news that two gangs smoking each other over prime crack-dealing real estate. The act of a madman cannot be handled in the same way that people deal with crook-land violence. There is no defense against arbitrary evil. This sickening truth, that at any moment a madman could be on a collision course with us or our loved ones, hangs over the Newtown massacre.
Worse, the fact that random violence is still a part of human existence shatters the patina of order that we create for ourselves. We delight int the routines we construct to give our lives purpose. The shooting in Newtown is a terrible reminder that evil can come barging into our lives unannounced, prepared to destroy everything.
SORTA RELATED: This is why I can almost forgive some of the egregious anti-gun idiocy going on these days. Guns can be scary for folks who have no experience with firearms. Even the weakest caliber weapon can be deadly, and can be dressed up to look even more menacing. Add a mass murderer to the equation and it’s inevitable that people will have completely irrational thoughts. It’s their way of coping with the terror of indiscriminate violence.
What I cannot excuse is the brain-dead hypocrisy of the American Left. These are the same people who were against a military response after the September 11th 2001 attacks. America was supposed to sit on it’s hands and let the UN or the World Court or some other useless organization of feel-good do-nothings sue Osama bin Laden for wrongful death and for being a grouchy little meanie-head. Above all else, many elements of the Left wanted President Bush to chart a restrained course. In their view America had remain calm and not fly off the handle making rash decisions based on the raw emotions immediately after 9/11.
Yet, after the Sandy Hook shooting, what’s been the nearly-united response from American liberalism?
Which quickly moved to…
Followed shortly thereafter by…
Note that it hasn’t even been two weeks since the Newtown atrocity, and the country has been bombarded by a barrage of preachy moral attacks by liberals. They were picking targets to freeze, personalize and polarize almost as soon as the last shot was fired. This became a self-righteous partisan crusade within hours of the Sandy Hook shooting.
So much for the sane rational measured logical Left.