Mass Killers Hold Culture and Country Hostage
by Jonah Goldberg
Can we please stop holding the country hostage to crazy people?
Every year a tiny number of mentally ill people go on horrific killing sprees. It just happened in
In an entirely human response, we get spun up into a frenzy of finger-pointing. In the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting, many of the country's leading journalists and politicians suggested the former congresswoman was shot because of the "violent" political rhetoric of
In 2012, at a screening of "The Dark Knight Rises" in
After the particularly horrifying mass murder in
In the wake of the recent murder spree in
"How many students watch outsized frat-boy fantasies like "Neighbors" and feel, as [the suspected killer] did, unjustly shut out of college life that should be full of 'sex and fun and pleasure'? How many men, raised on a steady diet of
Hornaday was vilified, drawing the ire of many of the same liberals who thought nothing of blaming the Giffords shooting on
In other words: So what? I don't mean to trivialize these heinous tragedies, but what, exactly, do people propose? Should we police film, politics, novels, video games and every other type of communication and discourse for words and ideas that might set off a statistically microscopic minority of crazy people? What would that effort look like? How many censors would it require? How many hundreds of millions of people would be inconvenienced? Could free speech and artistic expression possibly survive?
Oh, and would it actually, you know, work?
I am not an absolutist on such things. After all, I'm not naming these killers precisely because I think the culture matters, including the news culture. But I am more concerned about the effects of culture on sane people. Regardless, it seems to me like a kind of insanity to think we can hold the entire society hostage to the reactions of insane people.
Why not instead focus on the source of the problem: the very small minority of mentally ill people who pose a danger to
themselves and others. And, yes, guns need to be part of that equation. But blanket efforts to ban guns seem like an analogous
effort to ban dangerous speech or art. About a third of U.S. households own a gun, according to surveys, but the number may
be higher than that. Getting rid of guns will infringe on the rights of tens of millions of sane, law-abiding citizens in
order to tackle a problem posed by dozens of people. And, like it or not, the
One reasonable regulation: doing what we reasonably can to keep guns out of the hands of people who might find
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Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Content Agency
"Mass Killers Hold Culture and Country Hostage "