"The central doctrine of Christianity, then, is not that God is a bastard. It is, in the words of the late Dominican theologian Herbert McCabe, that if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you."--Terry Eagleton

"...doesn't philosophy amount to the sum of all thinkable and unthinkable errors, ceaselessly repeated?"--Jean-Luc Marion

“The opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."--Bryan Stevenson

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Asking the same questions, getting the same answers

The most fundamental function of government is to provide for public safety in public places.  People who try to put mass shootings "in perspective"  might as well be pointing out more people died of flu or on the highways or from suicide, than died on 9/11.  The point is not how many people die, as if a calculus of death means some deaths are allowed, some are not because the number on one side is too small to matter, the number on the other beyond tolerance.  The number of deaths isn't important; that the deaths are wholly preventable, indeed in a civilized world should not happen, is what is important.

We have entire medical systems devoted to healthcare, to preventing any disease in any one person as much as humanly and systematically possible from leading to death.  Houston has a small separate city called the Texas Medical Center dedicated to that proposition, and they are hardly the only hospitals in Houston, much less in the metropolitan area.  As a society we do as much as is possible to keep people from dying from disease or even suicide; and yet we cannot protect our people, even our guests (too many who died in El Paso were Mexican nationals out for another day of shopping), in public places.  Why?  "2nd Amendment rights."  What does allowing a demonic 21 year old to have a military grade weapon have to do with a well-regulated militia or the security of a free State?  There is more to the language of the 2nd Amendment than "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."  But some people think that's the only part of the language that matters.*

And we continue to sow dragon's teeth and reap the whirlwind not because of violent video games or "mental illness," but because guns are plentiful and cheap and legal.  Who was the last mass shooter who bought his weapon at a gun show or from a gun dealer in a seedy motel room like they always use in the movies?  Every time, they buy a gun legally, own it legally, and use it illegally and lethally.  Then, and only then, do we know that they are a danger to themselves and others.  And every time we are told government can do nothing more than maybe, just maybe, pass a "red flag law" that will allow some family member with means and money to go to court and eventually, if possible, remove the guns from the hands of another family member, at least until the order expires by its terms, unless a new order is issued after another court hearing, and while that may be effective at slowing the rates of gun suicides, it does bugger all for the guy who's "dangerous actions" is playing video games or making lists of people he doesn't like.  Even with a red flag law, we can't punish people for their thoughts, and how many shooters gave strong evidence of their desire to shoot people before the world found out that's just what they wanted to do?  Soon enough that you can hire the lawyer and draw up the papers and serve them on the would-be shooter and get a court date and get a hearing and get an order that someone else (not the judge!) has to execute?  Sure, that's always how it happens, right? In retrospect we always know who the dangerous one was, what the "signs" were.  Prospectively, however, we predict the future as well as we predict next week's weather.**

One mass shooting is one too many.  We have had over 250 in this country since 2019 began.  Some of them we don't care about, so who notices? It's gang members, they deserve to kill each other, or it's drive by shootings and collateral damage and thank GOD! decent people don't live in those dangerous neighborhoods.  But Wal-Marts and night clubs are not dangerous neighborhoods, and yet we let them be because we can't do anything about guns.  We even sacrifice people to them.  I've seen the sci-fi stories about the dystopias where people matter less than the Grand Idea it turns out they are being sacrificed to.  Those aren't fictitious nightmares:  that is modern day America.

What have we done?  Why do we allow this?

*Yes, I am aware of the Heller decision; but that's not what the Heller decision says.

**Word come today that the mother of the El Paso shooter allegedly called police to warn that her son should not have a rifle.  Yet by her story she didn't ask them to take it away, nor give them any reason to believe he was a threat to himself or others.  The police say they have no record of any such call. Even if  Texas had a "red flag" law, would this alleged call have triggered it?


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