Plausible distractor: gun control, contemporary culture, and school shootings

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Many or most, if not all, of my readers will be aware that there was a mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, February 14, 2018, which resulted in 17 deaths and wounded 14 others. I shall not here identify the perpetrator, who appears to be a deeply disturbed and sinister young male – I certainly will not dignify him with the title “man.”

It has not taken long for the left-wing media – following Rahm Emanuel’s infamous dictum “never let a good crisis go to waste” – to politicize this latest tragedy, and use it as the latest argument in favor of stripping Americans of our God-given and Constitutionally-guaranteed right to defend ourselves. The irony in that will not be lost on those who have not succumbed to leftist ideological indoctrination.

Fortunately, not everyone has, and a good friend of mine posted the above on Facebook. I shared it, with a few added points which I reproduce here:

  1. Automatic weapons were available to civilians for a brief period following the First World War, and prior to the National Firearms Act of 1934, after which they were and are NOT available to anyone who is not the holder of a Class III Firearms License – which is very hard to get, and requires extensive background checks and monitoring (and expense). When they WERE available, use of them in crime was limited to gangsters, which in those days meant organized crime families (which is why they were limited). So “automatic weapons” or “assault weapons” are a non-issue: as regards the civilian population, they do not exist.
  2. And lest you say, “b-b-b-but large-capacity magazines and semi-automatic rifles…!” let me remind you that the Texas Tower shooting, the first “mass shooting” by modern standards, which occurred in 1966, was committed largely with bolt-action and pump-action firearms.
  3. Let me remind you further that mass shooters are highly motivated individuals, who are unlikely to be deterred by such minor details as lack of availability of their preferred (or any) firearms. The Oklahoma City bomber did not need guns to kill 168 people and injure 680 more. The 9/11 hijackers did not need guns to kill nearly 3,000 people and terrorize a nation, scarring its psyche in ways that still linger. Terrorists in various locations, including New York City last year, have not needed guns to kill large numbers of people by ramming them with vehicles. Someone who is sufficiently determined to cause a massacre will find a way of doing so. And while banning guns may make them think a little harder for a little longer, it’s not going to prevent it; it is going to make things more difficult for law-abiding citizens who want to defend themselves and their families, or use firearms for sporting purposes.
  4. And that “18 school shootings in 45 days” meme that’s making the rounds? That includes eight incidents with no injuries or fatalities, two attempted suicides, one shot fired during the course of a fight, and two others that resulted in a single student being slightly wounded. And that is according to records found at “Everytown for Gun Safety,” Michael Bloomburg’s anti-gun advocacy group, which uses a very lenient (one could argue, highly misleading) standard: “any time a firearm discharges a live round inside a school building or on a school campus or grounds,” it counts as a school shooting, regardless of whether or not the shooting results in injury or death. While any and all of these are regrettable, placing them in the same category as what happened in Florida is disingenuous, to put it mildly.

It is very easy to place the blame for tragic incidents like the recent Florida shooting on firearms. But – although the military is working on autonomous (AI) weapons (a concerning development, but tangential to this) – no firearm currently available to civilians is capable of engaging a target on its own. It requires a human being to make that decision and act on it.

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The 1931 girls’ rifle team outside Huntington High School, Huntington, New York.

In the 1950s and 60s, it was commonplace for students to bring firearms to school, for hunting purposes, often leaving them plainly visible in gun-racks in their pickups on the parking lot, or sometimes keeping them in their lockers. Yet there were no school shootings. During the same period (and for decades prior), high-school shooting teams were common. Again, no school shootings. Teenaged students even carried firearms on public buses and trolleys, on their way from their homes (or schools!) to the outskirts of town to hunt. Again, no shootings resulted.

The issue is not a gun issue. That’s an obvious but a misleading target – a “plausible distractor,” in testing terms. The issue is a societal and cultural issue, and a moral issue. It is a whole lot easier to say “ban guns” than it is to wrestle seriously with where we, as a culture, might have been going wrong – might be continuing to go wrong. And there is no single answer to that question, either; it is almost certainly a multiplicity of wrong steps, in a variety of areas.

These include, but are not limited to, the failures of parenting Sandy mentions, plus breakdown of stable family units in general, the rise of media and recreational opportunities (including music, videos or other visual media, the video gaming Sandy mentioned, etc.) that glorify amoral or immoral violence while minimizing its consequences, the breakdown of traditional religious observances and the moral guidelines religion has traditionally provided (see Washington’s Farewell Address), and the breakdown of cultural cohesion – and the stability that provides – in a variety of ways. There are probably many others that I have missed.

And until we seriously and constructively address these issues, the problem will continue. Banning or limiting (any more than they are already limited, which is severely) firearms will not solve it, it will only make things more difficult for law-abiding citizens, and chip further away at our freedom.

P.S. I have seen a number of worthwhile comments come across my newsfeed today. Here is one:

“We have to understand that even if we secure every school to were a mouse couldn’t get entry with a pea-shooter, it’s a band-aid. What then: shopping malls, fast-food restaurants, hospitals? We have a much more fundamental, philosophical and spiritual problem. When was the last time the great works of western philosophy and ethics were taught in our schools? When did we last focus our children on the big questions of the human condition, questions addressed by the great thinkers of Western Civilization? Could it be back in the last days when we had no mass school shootings? Do we really believe we could turn our back on the great projects of Western Civilization and not loose a hold on civil society itself?”

Indeed. To tear a plant up from its roots and not expect it to whither is the height of insanity. And of course, the diminution and marginalization of traditional religious faith – particularly the Judeo-Christian religious tradition – and the moral standards which come from it has played a major role in stripping our society of its moral compass.

And then there was this comment, from a Washington sheriff, interviewed today:

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Here is the video clip, in which he reinforces a lot of what I’ve said, above – only a lot more succinctly:

We have viewed abandoning traditional social and cultural norms, traditional moral values, traditional religious faith, traditional child-rearing practices, and much more, as being “progressive,” and trumpeted this abandonment as great advances in the human experience. But as C.S. Lewis presciently put it,

“We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man. There is nothing progressive about being pig-headed and refusing to admit a mistake. And I think if you look at the present state of the world it’s pretty plain that humanity has been making some big mistakes. We’re on the wrong road. And if that is so we must go back. Going back is the quickest way on.”

C.S. Lewis, The Case for Christianity

Amen.

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Psychologist on the Breakdown of Discourse: ‘I’m a Liberal Professor and My Liberal Students Scare Me’ | Intellectual Takeout

“People born after 1980 are much more likely to be in a state of moral dependency,” he said. “If somebody has done something to me, I won’t deal with it myself. I will get an adult authority, a bureaucratic authority, a diversity a department, something to punish the person who did this to me.”

Source: Psychologist on the Breakdown of Discourse: ‘I’m a Liberal Professor and My Liberal Students Scare Me’ | Intellectual Takeout

“American campuses are now overwhelmingly made up of students born after 1980, many of whom are incapable resolving conflict on their own.

“The result?

“A process Haidt calls erasure, in which universities and educators strip away anything that could possibly be construed as unsettling or offensive. Eventually, ideological conformity (on campuses that implies progressivism) replaces original thought.

“’This makes it impossible to teach. This makes it impossible to have an intellectual community,’ he said. ‘I’m a liberal Professor and my liberal students scare me.’”

I saw the beginnings of this in the late ’80s and, especially, mid-’90s, in my own undergraduate and graduate institutions – the latter in particular. The speed and intensity at which the process has proceeded is indeed frightening. The result is a dumbing-down of students and graduates of our mainstream academic institutions – both in terms of knowledge itself, and the process of learning. And the implications of that are indeed frightening.

I will never forget one of my favorite undergrad professors, a man both liberal and progressive, assert that the primary purpose of a college education is to develop a “good crap detector.” Students today do not, by and large, have good crap detectors. They have ideologies, and fear and hatred for anything outside of them. This is not the way you get productive and intelligent public discourse! It is also not the way you develop intelligent and productive citizens, post-academia.

Just one of many reasons I fear for our future.

Universities’ war against truth | Spectator Life

Having beliefs and expressing them is no longer tolerated and the contagion is spreading

Source: Universities’ war against truth | Spectator Life

“However, as soon as inclusiveness itself is questioned, freedom is cast aside. Students seem to be as prepared as they ever were to demand that ‘no platform’ be given to people who speak or think in the wrong way. Speaking or thinking in the wrong way does not mean disagreeing with the beliefs of the students — for they have no beliefs. It means thinking as though there really is something to think — as though there really is a truth that we are trying to reach, and that it is right, having reached it, to speak with certainty. What we might have taken to be open-mindedness turns out to be no-mindedness: the absence of beliefs, and a negative reaction to all those who have them. The greatest sin is a refusal to end each sentence with a question mark.”

Sadly, there is a great deal of truth to this.

Ooops, did I use the word “truth”…? Or assert a definitive belief? Shame on me! I meant, “there might be, like, something to this…?”

Muslim Cadet Refuses To Remove Hijab – Military College Responds

Muslims have no respect for American culture or history, and they have no intention to assimilate… A Muslim student, who is about to attend a historic military academy in South Carolina, is attempting to force the school to allow her to wear a hijab. The school refused her request and told her she is not above the rules. 

Source: Muslim Cadet Refuses To Remove Hijab, Military College Wipes Smug Grin Off Her Face

The school is The Citadel, and I salute them! As this article points out,

The military college, the Citadel, has a long history and has operated as a school for 175 years. It has not allowed an exception to the dress code once in its entire history.

The academy’s president announced the decision earlier this week explaining that, “The standardization of cadets in apparel, overall appearance, actions, and privileges is essential to the learning goals and objectives of the college.”

“This process reflects an initial relinquishing of self, during which cadets learn the value of teamwork to function as a single unit,” the president said, justifying the almost two-century long guideline.

[I would here note that “guideline” is imprecise, indeed incorrect: it is not a guideline, it is a requirement for all Cadets. Period.]

The Citadel allows for religious accommodation so long as it does not undermine the objectives of the school such as morale, health and safety, or good order. Breaking unit cohesion for a head scarf is not acceptable.

The Muslim student is not accepting the school’s decision in good spirit. Instead, she is suing the school with the support of the terror-funded Council of American-Islamic Relations. She says the lawsuit will go through unless the school allows her to attend in a hijab.

The Muslim-led attack on our historic institutions is being launched in an attempt to undermine our history. Muslims have convinced short-sided liberals to abandon their principles in the name of protecting the supposedly oppressed.

The Muslims are not fighting for equality, as the school policy treats people of all faiths equally. Instead, they demand special privileges for only themselves.

We see this time and again! Look at Moslem insistence on halal-only meats in school cafeterias, attempts to prevent people from walking dogs in neighborhoods where Moslems live and to get women to cover up on the beach, even a Change.org petition, a few years ago, attempting to ban Oktoberfest in Munich, of all things!

This is a part of the process known as creeping Sharia, where Muslims are able to trick a country into adopting Sharia law one principle at a time.

Indeed it is. The pattern, seen over and over again at many times and places, is for Moslems to appear accommodating and peaceful until they perceive themselves to be in a sufficient position of strength to make their real demands known (see taqiyya and dawa). This needs to be recognized, and it needs to be stopped.

Again, I salute The Citadel for taking this action! God grant they stick to their guns. And if it comes to a law suit, I hope and pray that it is settled in favor of the school. This is yet another front in the war against the West!

Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today | The Federalist Papers

This is sad. ~ The Federalist Papers

Source: Middle School Reading Lists 100 Years Ago vs. Today | The Federalist Papers

I agree with The Federalist Papers. Here are some quotes from the post:

One of the striking features of the Edina list is how recent the titles are. Many of the selections were published in the 21st century. In fact, only four of the selections are more than 20 years old. In comparison, over half of the titles on the first list were at least 20 years old in 1908, with many of them averaging between 50 to 100 years old.

Older is not necessarily better, but the books on the first list suggest that schools of the past were more likely to give their students time-tested, classic literature, rather than books whose popularity may happen to be a passing fad…

A second striking difference between the two book lists are the themes they explore. The first is full of historical references and settings which stretch from ancient Greece (Tanglewood Tales) to the Middle Ages (Harold, Last of Saxon Kings) to the founding of America (Courtship of Miles Standish). Through highly recognized authors such as Longfellow, Stevenson, Kipling, and Dickens, these titles introduce children to a vast array of themes crucial to understanding the foundations upon which America and western civilization were built…

It’s good for children to understand the world in which they live, but as with any area in life, you can have too much of a good thing. A continual focus on modern literature narrows the lens through which children can view and interpret the world. Would it not be better to broaden their horizons and expose them to a balance of both old and new literature?

Click through the link and read on for more.

Two thoughts brought to mind by the above:

and this:

Indeed.

5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

Here are five steps to help you raise your own little Viking, Scandinavian-style, through outdoor play.

Source: 5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

Sweden has gotten a bit of a bad rap (not entirely without justification) recently, in some quarters, for bringing a butt-load (*) of misery on itself by its misguided and excessively lenient immigration policies. Or perhaps one should say, by adopting, rather than resisting, ones foisted on it by the EU, and doing so with rather more enthusiasm than was wise…

(* … a medieval reference to a large wine-cask, not a derriere)

But there are some things that Sweden has done, and is continuing to do, very well, and this is one of them! As this article points out,

“In Sweden, 80% of children between the ages of one to five years, attend Swedish daycare which promotes play, napping and eating meals outdoors. There are also some preschools that have no physical building as all of their learning occurs outdoors—in nature’s classroom…

“Outdoor play offers not only physical benefits like increased balance, endurance, and hand-eye coordination but has also shown to improve cognitive and social/emotional development. When outdoors, children are more likely to invent games and understand why rules are necessary — something that does not happen when playing a pre-programmed game on a tablet or the computer.”

Follow the link to discover the “five steps to help you raise your own little Viking through outdoor play“!

Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus – WSJ

Academic intolerance is the product of ideological aggression, not a psychological disorder.

Source: Those ‘Snowflakes’ Have Chilling Effects Even Beyond the Campus – WSJ

I have commented previously that when you have students rioting to prevent a gay Jewish man from speaking on campus, one is forced to question exactly who are the “Nazis” and the “fascists” (and clearly I am not the only one who feels that way).

But it is not just Milo Yiannopoulos, whose flamboyant attitude and provocative, often controversial, lifestyle make him (not without justification) a lightning rod for criticism. But any and all conservative commentators are meeting increased agitation and resistance if they dare to step onto today’s college and university campuses.

And even some who are not, themselves, conservative at all: one thinks, for example, of Professor Allison Stanger of Middlebury College in Vermont, who ended up in the emergency room after protests against controversial American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray – invited to campus for a presentation Professor Stanger had agreed to moderate, out of her belief in fairness and the free exchange of ideas – turned violent.

But while this incident was sufficiently troubling to cause even some left-leaning academics to examine both their own assumptions and the actions of some of their fellow-travelers, it was not unique. Unfortunately, exposure to ideas with which one may not agree – once a staple of higher education – is being actively protested and suppressed in all too many colleges and universities: at least, if those ideas come from the conservative end of the political spectrum.

This essay, by one victim of such aggression – Heather MacDonald – addresses the popular view that this is simply a psychological disorder, a symptom of an excessively-coddled upbringing:

“Campus intolerance is at root not a psychological phenomenon but an ideological one. At its center is a worldview that sees Western culture as endemically racist and sexist. The overriding goal of the educational establishment is to teach young people within the ever-growing list of official victim classifications to view themselves as existentially oppressed. One outcome of that teaching is the forceful silencing of contrarian speech…

“Many observers dismiss such ignorant tantrums as a phase that will end once the ‘snowflakes’ encounter the real world. But the graduates of the academic victimology complex are remaking the world in their image. The assumption of inevitable discrimination against women and minorities plagues every nonacademic institution today, resulting in hiring and promotion based on sex and race at the expense of merit…

“Faculty and campus administrators must start defending the Enlightenment legacy of reason and civil debate. But even if dissenting thought were welcome on college campuses, the ideology of victimhood would still wreak havoc on American society and civil harmony. The silencing of speech is a massive problem, but it is a symptom of an even more profound distortion of reality.”

To which I can only respond, indeed.