Well that has a familiar ring to it

The U.S. has become well-rehearsed in its response to mass shootings. An event. The pondering over terrorism vs. generalized craziness. The outpouring of prayers and support. Then the internet outrage. And more internet outrage. More meme pictures about guns and love. More color-your-profile picture trends. Empty scripted responses from pious politicians. A week or two, then back to our regularly scheduled programming.

News flash: this isn’t getting better. It’s not going to get better.

Why?

  1. We focus on single causal factors.

    It’s the guns. No, it’s evil people/crazy people/bad guys with guns. Stop with it. Just stop. Have you people never heard of the fallacy of the excluded middle? The false dilemma?

    Only a hair-splitting fool would claim that guns have nothing to do with a crime in which a gun was used to kill people. Likewise it takes a different kind of fool to claim that guns have everything to do with it. (Fortunately, there aren’t too many of the latter. But of the former…)

    We’re stand no chance of reducing these incidents if we don’t think systemically. (See, I didn’t say stopping these incidents.)

  2. As a species, our default programming seems to make us conflate mythology with truth.

    This is the part that everyone is too polite to do. The simpleton nationalists grab their giant brush and paint every Muslim a terrorist. The liberals claim make the equally ridiculous claim that Islam is the religion of peace. Remember that fallacy of the excluded middle? How about Islam is the religion of both peace and violence?

    The problem isn’t Islam. It’s the conflation of mythology with truth. Remember there was a time when people were dead serious about Zeus up there on Mt. Olympus hurling lightning bolts? It wasn’t a mythology back then. It was the real deal. Now it’s a new “real deal.” It’s a new improved monotheistic flavor of Zeus and his buddies toying with us.

    Most of us are too polite to say it. Here’s the questions we should be asking: “What do you claim?”, “How, exactly do you know that?”, “Do you have any corroborating evidence?”, “On what grounds do your claims create an exception to the general prohibition against harm to others?” We ought to be willing to say: “Gee, that sounds an awful lot like nonsense to me. Perhaps you’d be willing to explain that logically to me.” The Trumpsters go astray by attacking people. People are just instances of a bigger problem.

    Our recorded history is just too short to see a lot of evolution on this front. Maybe in another 10,000 years or so.

  3. Gun ownership is baked into the U.S. Constitution.

    This is a tough nut to crack because the weapons of choice for mass killers are a coddled, protected entity in the U.S. And for some reason, we can’t admit in large enough numbers that like the entire Constitution, the Second Amendment is purposely ambiguous.[1] It’s ambiguous because the authors of the Constitution imagined we would sit down and have reasonable debates and compromise over some foundational principle. But we can’t get beyond “Ban all guns.” and “There should be no restrictions on gun ownership.”

    We worship the Founders like secular heroes. But I’m calling the Second Amendment a bone-head move on their part. No, I’m not for banning guns in the U.S. There’s a giant middle ground here. And no, dear conspiracy theorists, High Priests of the NRA, and other lunatics, Obama’s not coming for your guns.

So let the grief turn to internet outrage. Let the impotent internet outrage turn to nothing. I’ve lost my idealism about any of this. I’m not changing my Facebook picture. I’m not posting any meme pictures of politicians saying stuff about guns or terrorists. It’s all empty.


  1. Perhaps you don't agree that it's ambiguous. Then what does the "a well-regulated militia" have to do with private gun ownership?