04 August 2009

Amoklauf in Pennsylvania (updated)

This time it was an aerobics class, a room with up to 40 women in it. Three are dead, as is the gunman, and more are wounded, so the death toll may rise. The site and choice of targets are suggestive, but it is far too soon to speculate meaningfully about the man's motive, except that he had an obvious compulsion to take out as many women as he could before the time came, apparently, to end his own life. Yet another brave American lived out his fatal fantasy of gunplay, and yet more will contribute their usual asinine post-mortems to the effect that someone armed could have defended herself and the other women. I'm sure, though, that on some level the gunman thought he was acting in self-defense, too -- maybe even when he shot himself.

Our free states were certainly more secure by virtue of this guy having a gun, weren't they?

Update: the killer has been identified as the alleged author of a web diary that reveals nine months of contemplation and planning for the attack, including a visit to the fitness center earlier this year that ended when he "chickened out." The diary seems to expose the shooter as an extreme social misfit who blamed women in general for his inability to connect with any of them. Guns presumably gave him the power to punish women for denying him his due. It occurs to me that that a presumed right to punish may be inextricably linked with the right to self-defense most gun enthusiasts claim, that it might not suffice for many of them simply to escape an attacker unless they can also punish the enemy for the affront on one's personal space. This may just be another way of saying that the gun owner provisionally appoints himself judge, jury and executioner under the self-designated emergency conditions of self-defense. What worries people about widespread gun ownership is the constant threat that someone will decide for reasons of his own that others have wronged him and have to be punished. Guns themselves can never be purely defensive instruments, so self-defense may not justify gun ownership as obviously as gun owners claim. Incidents like last night's amoklauf are the opposite side of the same coin.

7 comments:

Crhymethinc said...

And, of course, nothing will change. I am beginning to think the only way to prompt change from the government is for someone to go amoklauf in the senate and/or congress. Once those idiots have to start fearing for their own lives, they will finally rescind the second amendment.

hobbyfan said...

One of the wounded is the shooter's ex-girlfriend. I do not dig the idea of these jerks going in, shooting up a place for no reason, then whacking themselves to avoid going to jail or the nearest sanitarium, whichever is most appropriate for these dweebs.

Samuel Wilson said...

Crhymethinc: You realize, of course, that a sufficient number of state legislatures would have to be likewise terrorized before an amendment repealing the Second could be ratified.

Hobby: You offer another argument against guns -- they enable amoklaufers to get away with their crimes without having to reckon with society.

hobbyfan said...

I read further on this. This doofus hadn't had a date in 25 years. I mean, with the advances in technology, couldn't he have tried e-harmony.com or something? There's your idiot of the week, Sammy. No debate necessary.

Crhymethinc said...

Whatever it takes.

Hobby: I don't believe in asylums for people who take this sort of action. I don't believe in jail either. They are like rabid dogs. There is no cure. There is no rehabilitation. And the taxpayers shouldn't be burdened with having to pay for their existence. They should be dragged out into the street and publicly executed.

It occurs to me that, perhaps the death penalty seems to some not to be a deterrent is perhaps because it is no longer carried out publicly. I think if state-sponsored executions were done publicly, and televised on the evening news, it would be a more effective deterrent.

hobbyfan said...

Crhyme: Three words: Are you kidding?

Samuel Wilson said...

I wouldn't rule out the necessity of doing something like that, although the problem remains with the amoklaufers of catching them alive. But these characters claim some satisfaction from choosing the manner of their death, and ideally there should be a way to deny them the cool demise they fantasize about. In other cases, you'd like to see the "Angels With Dirty Faces" scenario take effect, in which the deterrent comes from people seeing the badass criminal turn into a whimpering coward in his final moments.