Saturday, April 21, 2007

Musing on Virgina Tech

The Virginia Tech tragedy has been in the forefront of the news for the past week. What is truly sad and depressing about this is the sense of déjà vu. Eight years after Columbine, five years after 9/11, and decades after the shootings at Austin we have learned nothing. As Taylor Marsh pointed out in her radio program, VT was totally unprepared for this incident. This happened after five years of the Bush administration screaming “terror, terror, terror, look out for the Jhadies, look out, be very, very afraid!” So in this case Bush is wrong 9/11 did not change everything, it failed to inspire a security plan at VT.

Sadder still is the spin of the 2nd amendment blow-hards and NRA types on this awful event. The meme goes like this, “if only other students with concealed carry weapons were there, then the shooter would have been cut down before he killed so many”

This is wrong on so many levels, and clearly shows the bankruptcy of conservative thought.
First off Universities are not supposed to be armed camps. Professors and Administrators really should not have the requirement of packing heat as part of their jobs. Is it really that hard to get students to turn their term papers on time? Are you telling me that besides being an expert in Aristotelian logic, professors need to qualify with an Uzi? So instead of sniping at each other with words, the Professors can now snipe at each other with Kalashnikovs? This is supposed to be an improvement?

Even more insane is the idea of arming the students. Believe it or else some pundits have argued that this incident proves that banning concealed carry firearms on campus is bad idea, that we need more students armed to the teeth like Mr. Hui. The NRA types made this point before with the Columbine massacre too. Exactly were do the NRA types propose to place the cut off point, 6th grade? KinderCare? Yes! Once we have toddlers running around with Glocks, the world will be a much better place! 

College is a challenge for both students and staff. The young adults there are away from home for their first time, they are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, and they have to deal with a myriad of other issues. The NRA and other Conservative now want to add guns to this mix, as alcohol fueled frat parties don’t cause enough problems.

At the core though is the great political debate between Conservatives and Liberals. The debate is about the Commons and Individuals. Cons want to privatize everything, even public safety. Theirs is a wild west, rugged individual outlook. They forget that in the real Wild West, it was federal control that finally brought order to the frontier. Cons believe in the Hobbesian world were people are basically evil, and government sole purpose is to control our bestial impulses. Other than protecting private property, they see no other role for the state. Liberals on the other hand see people as basically good, and government as way to improve the lot of masses. This was the founding idea that Washington, Jefferson, Madison and others had for our republic, the we of “We the people.” The founders rejected the idea of an elitist government, ruled by a strong autocrat. They set up a Democratic Republic instead. They believed in the commons, they believed in government’s ability to set up a more perfect union. This is the major difference be Conservatives and liberals. Conservatism sees government as a closed fist, ready to strike; liberalism sees government as an open hand, ready to help.

So it is no surprise that the Cons, especially Cons of the Ayn Rand “objectivist” stripe,would argue for individuals to arm up. For them there is no commons, only striving individuals. For them there is only raw power, and may the best man / woman win. Now there are a couple of countries were every adult male is armed, and government stays out of the affairs of individuals; but for some reason the Cons are not moving to their ideological paradises of Iraq and Afghanistan.
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