13 January 2016
America under the gun
The blood shed in Penn Township PA last Monday forms a Rorschach blot that people will interpret according to their bias, but there is no good interpretation to make of it. Here's what happened: a state police constable came to an apartment to carry out an eviction order against the tenant. The tenant decided to defend his rights, such as they were, by pointing a rifle at the constable. Naturally, the constable defended himself by drawing and firing his handgun. The good news, depending on your perspective, is that he only hit the tenant in the arm. The bad news, from any perspective is that the bullet passed through the tenant and killed his 12 year old daughter, who was standing behind him. For what it's worth to you, the tenant and his daughter are white. Make of this what you will. You can say that the tenant got his daughter killed by turning the eviction into an armed showdown, perhaps without considering the risk to the girl. You can blame the constable for knowing no other way out of the situation than to shoot, perhaps without realizing that other people were at risk. Follow the comment thread on the linked story and you'll see some skepticism toward the official story. We can debate or quibble about personal responsibility, but who can really dispute that guns killed that girl? But that's life -- or death -- in the National Rifle Association's utopia. A man defended his rights as he saw them, and as he saw fit, and now his daughter is dead. A good guy with a gun, if only by virtue of his badge, stopped a bad guy with a gun, at least in the eyes of the law, and the girl is still dead. In a civilized country an eviction doesn't end with someone dead, even if the tenant resists. What actually happened is just another of the tragedies we'll apparently have to accept as the price of some people's idea of freedom.