Saturday, February 17, 2018

Parkland High School: Another Mass Shooting. Another Series of Excuses

Another mass shooting. More innocent lives taken, This time is was ordinary school kids. Young men and women, boys and girls really, just starting their lives. Again, it's the ole story about people "suspected" this or that individual was up to something, or that there were warning signs and yet no body acted. In this case, it seems that his classmates all knew. So did many of his teachers and apparently the neighbors too; Oh, and the police apparently were familiar with this kid but failed to do a follow up. That's the beauty of hindsight. It's always so crystal clear, yet it's the here and now that we always seem to have trouble with.

Of course, there are always the chatterboxes on TV or the radio with their "fill-in-the-blank" analysis (there's nothing like "instant expertise". Just add crisis--real or imitation--- and stir the pot vigorously). Naturally, you have those wanting to blame the weapon, as if it's the incarnation of evil and possesses the hapless soul of whoever touches it. If only we ban all guns, all the carnage will all magically disappear, like the knife attacks in China, machete attacks in the UK, or the recent rash of attacks using trucks and vans in France and Germany, and the countless bombings! I suppose a fork, or hammer, or rock, or pointy stick will do the job just as well don't you?

Mass shootings have become almost the norm, going back to Columbine High School, which is considered the "standard" by those who study such things, including would-be shooters themselves. More recently we had the mass shooting in Las Vegas, of which we still know nothing (I guess officials are still having trouble coming up with a believable narrative given the number of times they've changed their story). Now we have a new mass murderer. This time the suspect in question, Nikolas Cruz, who was allegedly on some sort of behavior modification drugs (as were the others we're told), had been expelled and sought out revenge for the dastardly deed! I guess he couldn't put on his big boy pants and toughed it out huh?

So Cruz plotted his revenge down to the nth degree, from his choice of weapon, an AR-15 semi-automation rifle, which because of its designed, is often misidentified as an "assault rifle"; presumably for sensationalism effect, to his means of transport (an Uber driver), to the appropriate time his cold and cowardly rampage would start. The thing, again, that I find so interesting is how unsurprised everyone was when the shooter was identified.

When I was in school, way back in the 1960's and 1970's, some thought the world was spinning apart. America was a divided nation. There was the Civil Rights Movement along with the Watts and Harlem riots among others, the Vietnam War and with it, the anti-war protests. There were the sit-ins and campus occupations, "love-ins", and mass concerts. There was the Chicago Police Riot and the murders at Kent State. There was the "La Causa" and the United Farm Workers led by Cesar Chavez.

With all this came church fire bombings (and several deaths), the attacks on the "Freedom Riders" (and the murders of three young activists by the KKK in the deep South), the assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr, and Malcolm X. We had international and domestic terrorist groups. Some were mainly political, like the PLO, Black September, the Baader-Meinhof Group (aka the Red Army Faction), the Weathermen, the American Indian Movement, and the SLA. Some were politically and racially driven like the Black Panthers, the KKK and Neo-Nazis. A few were more socially oriented like the Feminist (or "Women's Lib") Movement, Gay Pride, or the senior's activist group, the "Gray Panthers".

Despite all of this, I don't recall any mass shootings (with the possible exception of Kent State, and that was by the Ohio National Guard). I recall seeing a lot of posturing by groups brandishing rifles and pistols. There were millions of recently returned veterans; many of whom feeling rejected and angry. Some of these returning veterans were suffering from some form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Shock Disorder). All were highly trained to fight and kill, and yet there were no public mass shootings. Of course, there were a number of pretty brutal beatings by various police departments as a result of some protest, but no mass shootings, and certainly none involving school children. Why is that you think?

Personally, I think there are a number of reasons, but the most important of which was discipline, be it in school or at home. First off, when you went to school, you were expected to learn. That meant doing what the teachers asked you to do. It also meant respecting your teachers, not ignoring them; not giving them any lip; not threatening them and absolutely not trying to start a fight with them. At the same time, it also meant respecting the students and certainly not teachers having sex with them. That's the wrong kind of education!

In addition, students respected each other enough not to disrupt class. If you didn't want to learn, fine. Just don't try to drag others down with you. When you failed to do as asked you were sent to the principal's office. Usually this was bad news because it often meant that your parents were notified (more on that in a moment). At other times, it meant a whoop on your behind by the gym teacher with their custom made paddle, and that generally got your attention (and it also meant that your parents were definitely going to be notified).

In most cases, nothing the school could do was as bad as having to face your parents when you got home. The punishment was often more psychological and involved things like being grounded (which meant no going outside) and/or no friends over, no TV or phone access. Sometimes, it meant sentencing you to your room, etc. In some cases it meant some form of corporal punishment (there were, sadly, also instances of rather brutal beatings by a few which would be worthy of jail time today). Worse of all, I think, for many individuals it was the disappointed expressions by their parents. Of course, there was those who simply didn't care which seems to be near epidemic these days.

Nevertheless, respect for others was expected from and by everyone, and along with that came discipline. I am not talking about lockstep conformity, but order and following school guidelines for behavior. Because everyone showed others respect, and there was discipline in the classroom, there were rarely fights in school or on campus. There was no need for metal detectors. No one was bringing guns. Kids weren't trying to cut off the hands of other students in shop class. No one was attacking the teachers or running amuck, and yet guns and other weapons were readily available (and with far less legal restrictions).

Since those days, discipline has gone out of the schools. Attacking a fellow student or teacher may mean getting expelled, which is simply an early vacation. Disrupting class means that everyone will be just as likely to fail the test as you are. In fact, education has been repeatedly dumbed down across the board to accommodate these students. I suppose someone figured out that if the material was to far over the head of some student, they'd get frustrated and decide to act out and keep anyone from learning, so just dumb it down. Just as gangs run the prisons, petty thugs and Dillinger wannabes try to run the schools. At least, that's sure how it appears to me!

At home, parents have largely all but stopped parenting. They've ceded control of their children to the State. Meanwhile, there is little or no respect for anyone; not to teachers, to parents, to authorities, or to the public in general. There are no consequences for their actions. Many grow up with a sense of entitlement; that somehow the world owes them just for breathing. Instead of discipline, there is simply medication to control their behavior, and when they get older, medication turns into drugs---be it prescription or street.

To make matters worse, most of these kids walk or sit around with their face in a "Smartphone" or on a laptop. They live increasingly in a digital world; one which includes very violent games that desensitizes players to scenes of carnage and death (and worse, believe there is a reset button which brings "people" back to if nothing ever happened). These children (and adults) lose or never develop social skills and the ability to interact with other individuals. They don't know history. They don't know ethics or civics. They don't understand how to rationally discuss topics, especially with those who may disagree with them.

So what do they do? How do they react? They panic. They act out with violence. They try to disrupt what's going on around them because they can't cope with different opinions. They at school, at an event...or on streets and highways (then they get upset because people don't stop and coddle their "outrage"). They demand no "free speech" or open forums (seriously). Is it any wonder some of these same individuals become violent? It's what they've been conditioned by society to do.

As for the argument about guns and the Second Amendment, I've heard people argue that the Founders didn't intend for ordinary citizens to have guns, except for hunting and self protection in the wilds. Now that we've become "civilized", and can buy our food at the local supermarket, who needs guns? As for self protection, we have the police. We have pepper spray. We have whistles. Besides, perhaps they just need money or whatever for their drug or booze addiction. Perhaps they had a crappy childhood. Maybe their religion tells them it's ok and we're suppose to go accept it. If we just give them whatever they want, then maybe they won't murder us or brutalize us...too badly. Yeah, right.

You and I have a inherent right to protect ourselves, our possessions, and the lives of others if threatened with serious harm. We do not have a duty to forfeit any of these, even at the risk of terminating the bad guy's life. That is, of course, my own opinion, but I won't hesitate for a fraction of a second. If, on the other hand, you're fine with whatever happens, be it being robbed of your money, your possessions, your life or that of your family and/or friends, that's your call.
If you are a woman and you're ok with being raped and/or beaten to a pulp, that's also your call...but don't start whining about it or demanding that others do the same thing just to make yourself feel better about your decision. As the old saying goes, "if guns are criminalized, only criminals will have guns" is absolutely true. Don't be naive enough to expect the bad guys to turn in their guns. They will always have what they want and what they need. If you're unarmed, then so much the better for them.

Also, our Founding Fathers understood that government---all government---was not to be trusted. Given human nature, power tends to corrupt no matter how good the intentions. As Lord Acton once said, "power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". It was the absence of guns which made the despots of modern Europe, Africa, Latin America, and Asia possible. Just like in distant past, it often was the absence of adequate weapons which made tyrants possible. Our Founding Fathers wanted us to have the ability not just to hunt, or defend ourselves from the lowlifes of the world, but most of all, from government (perhaps the lowest of the lowlifes).

Some may argue that we have the police and/or military for that. Well yeah...and who do you think they work for? The government. Very few (in the beginning) will stand with the people in the event of a revolt or revolution, and while each take an oath to uphold the Constitution, also included in that oath is a duty to follow the orders given to them. It won't be easy for many to decide which of the two they should follow. America, as most of you all should already know, is not the country it was intended to be. We're an Oligarchy; a plutocracy with an ever growing police state mentality. The notion of a democratic Constitutional Republic is long gone. It's just not reality not matter how badly we want to believe. Americans may find that the day to restore the intent of the Founders is closer than they think.

On a personal note, I can understand the need to curtail full auto weapons (which an AR-15 is not) without a special permit (and even then, they must be keep at a secure site such as a police station or armory), as well as restricting body armor (not to many bears or moose shoot back), full auto conversion kits and "bump stocks", armor piercing shells, again, without certain restrictions and permits. As it now stands, new guns must be registered. This includes a background check for any criminal or mental health issues. However, as we've seen, too often the system fails at this stage and those who shouldn't have a gun get one.

Until a full record check can be completed, no weapon should ever leave the store. The same goes with pre-owned rifles and pistols. This may hurt used gun dealers but it would add another layer of safety. Perhaps dealers of used guns can work out arrangements with local gun store owners to store the item with them until the background check is completed (alternatively, with the local armory or police since they're doing part of the background check anyway). However, undermining our 2nd Amendment is the wrong thing to do, and may lead down a path we don't want to tread. Even without guns, people will find other lethal means to do harm. Meanwhile, let's start restoring some discipline back into the schools and respect back into society.

Parkland high school shooting: At least 17 killed, suspect in custody, Florida sheriff says

Knife-wielding attackers kills 29, injure 130 at China train station

Another Machete Attack in the UK

Attack in Paris

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