Monday, January 10, 2011

Concern Troll Is Confused

Tragedy in Arizona:

I'm not sure why it is so necessary that we identify a culprit in all of this. What good does it do us to know that he is, say, a paranoid schizophrenic? It may matter in his sentencing, of course. But it's far from clear that this knowledge would let us do what we want, which is to prevent this sort of thing from happening again. We are not going to prophylactically [!] lock people up, and there is no "seems a little, well, off" list to which we can add people we don't want to have guns. Even extended magazine bans wouldn't have done much good, as he was carrying lots of spares. As I understand it, he was essentially stopped because one of his spare magazines malfunctioned, something which may be more likely to happen on larger capacity magazines. Anyone who practices a little can swap magazines faster than others can notice and decide to tackle them.
Nothing to see here, nothing to be done, no way to have prevented it. Move along folks. Officer McArdle needs you to clear the area.
In a way, it's like it didn't actually happen, he was too crazy to have been stopped, but not crazy enough to violate his sacred second amendment right to possess the capacity to murder 6 people and seriously injure another 12. In no way does this suggest Arizona's gun laws are too lax, it's not even worth considering. Why are we even talking about it?
Blame is a way of simulating control: if we can just identify who was at fault, we can stop it. The problem is, when we can't identify any very plausible target, we too readily go after implausible ones: Freemasons poisoning the wells, or Federal Reserve bankers plotting to monetize the national debt. At worst, this tendency is dangerous, corrosive; at best, it leads us to make unproductive policy choices.
Yes, we might end up falling for crazy conspiracy theories like allowing the mentally ill to possess the means to murder others is a bad thing that should be addressed, or that using violent rhetoric against political adversaries can create a climate in which crazy people act out violently against their political adversaries.
A terrible thing happened. We live in a universe in which terrible things happen. That's no one's fault--or maybe, everyone's fault. Either way, I don't see much in the way of solutions coming out of this--only terrible, terrible sadness.
There's no human agency involved here, no context, nothing to be learned, no reason to examine. Might as well have been a meteor that fell into the crowd, for all we can learn or do about it, and I don't see any of you lefties blaming NASA, despite the fact that her husband and brother in law are both astronauts.
Many of the people who rushed to blame this on their political opponents made themselves look like first class jerks, an impression that was not improved when we got more information, and they doubled down rather than simply admit that they had perhaps jumped to conclusions.
Noting the context and asking whether it is proper for national figures to use violent rhetoric and imagery is the real mistake here, especially because it lowers Megan's opinion of you. Palin didn't pull the trigger, and Loughner probably wasn't directly influenced by her. That makes everything ok, the end, lalalalalalaMegancan'theaaaaaaryooooouuuuuu, you jerk.

1 comment:

UncertaintyVicePrincipal said...

"That's no one's fault--or maybe, everyone's fault."

That sounds like Megan's usual margin of error using a calculator.

"The answer is either zero, or three hundred million. Give or take."

So basically, European countries have minuscule gun death rates compared to ours, but it's not because they regulate guns, because if you do that, people just find ways around it like the magazines she mentions and so on. So they really DON'T have lower rates in Europe, they couldn't, because regulation doesn't work, so it must be that whoever tallied it all up has a calculator like Megan's, she assumes.