This morning, on my Facebook page, there were a number of people calling for just shooting James E. Holmes without a trial, because he was caught with the gun in his hand and there were dozens of witnesses to what he did, so why waste the money?
I also saw some news reports about that idiot Louis Gohmert saying that if other people in the theater had had guns, this wouldn't have been such a tragedy because they could have shot the shooter.
I also want to respond to a conversation I had with my ex's new partner, about the culture of American violence and how we need to get our collective heads out of our collective asses and recognize that this is cultural and structural, not individual, or we're all screwed.
I'll take these issues in the order they were presented, after the fleur-de-Kos.
First, to the eye-for-an-eye, kill-without-a-trial folks:
The only way to respond to this morning's tragedy is by following the law. Those advocating "an eye for an eye" or execution with no trial are advocating vigilantism, also known as lynching, which is what people did to blacks in the 1950s.
It's called due process, folks. We may not like it, but the moment we depart from it, you can put your head between your legs and kiss your rights goodbye. As angry and disgusted as we may be by what happened in that theater, we must remember that the LAW demands due process for all, and hold to that. We either protect the rights of ALL, or we admit that nobody has them.
If you want your rights protected when and if you are accused (and don't kid yourself that you never will be), you must protect the rights of those you hate when they are accused. End of story.
Second, to the "if others had had guns they could have shot the shooter" folks:
I am deeply offended at that yahoo Republican in Texas making this tragedy into a political issue. More to the point, I'm extremely offended at his claim that if other people in the theater had had guns, they could have stopped the shooter.
There are other ways to respond to a gunman in a crowded area. Witness the Unitarian Church's response to the shooter that walked into their church in Knoxville, Tennessee a few years ago. They did not shoot him. They grabbed him, took away his weapons, and detained him without violence until the police arrived.
There are other ways to respond to violence than with more violence.
A friend of mine pointed out that in a dark, chaotic theater, another person with a gun would have just probably hit more innocent people. And I responded, "Thank you, yes. And the people in the Unitarian church, which was well-lit in the middle of a morning church service, might have had a clear shot but still did not respond with violence. We could use more of that kind of response, frankly."
It's time to stop meeting violence with more violence.
Which brings me to item 3: the American culture of violence.
My ex's boyfriend's opinion was that we have to get past the belief that it's all about mental illness or a personal problem. He asked why we question that this happens, when American culture has so desensitized all of us to violence in the first place. He said "Why bother looking for a motive? The point is that he committed the crime - motive is irrelevant. We've created a culture where this happens."
And he's not wrong, folks. This is a cultural issue.
Unfortunately, our nature as human beings demands that we find a motive for actions, which is why "senseless shootings" make us so frightened. More to the point, we demand PERSONAL motive, because we don't want to accept what my ex's boyfriend said - that our culture has desensitized us to violence. The law will also demand a motive, and if he's crazy, the motive will probably be "because the voices told him to," which will pretty much guarantee him a stay in a mental hospital. So although we may want to think motive is irrelevant, it's actually pretty central to the problem at hand.
It's why we keep seeing the MSM talking heads endlessly speculating on why he did it. But notice - nobody is going to bring up "the American Culture Is Violent" as a reason, because that would mean it's not just about this one crazy lone gunman, but about US. And that means we might have to change.
The problem with that is getting past the mental and emotional resistance of those who continue to believe that we're the best country in the world, the best culture ever produced by human beings, and the best everything else. As frustrating as it is, psychological and sociological research has repeatedly shown that you cannot reason someone out of a belief they were not reasoned into, that facts and data that show why a belief is invalid often just serve to reinforce the invalid belief, and that most people don't act or think logically most of the time. It's an uphill climb that makes Sisyphus' job look like a level plain. I've posted about this here before.
It's the American culture of violence that allows a dipshit like Louis Gohmert, (R) Idiotsville, to claim that more violence will somehow solve the problem of violence and to know that the majority of his supporters will agree with him. It's the American culture of violence that moves people to support vigilantism instead of due process. It's very likely the American culture of violence that causes people like James E. Holmes to do what he did - one person on my Facebook page said "I find it interesting that the automatic reaction is that this is diminished mental capacity, instead of a reaction to a system." That's because we can't handle the fact that diminished mental capacity often comes about AS a reaction to a system.
I have studied this American culture for years. I'll be studying it for the rest of my life. But I also know that change has to come from the ground up; it can't be imposed top-down and made to work. So until we, as a culture, are ready to admit our failings as a culture and work to change the culture, we'll continue to see these kinds of tragedies.
And that's sad, folks. That's really sad, that we'd rather continue to cling to our violent ways than to find something that works better.