VIRGINIA TECH NOT JUST ABOUT GUNS
by Steve Love, Wed Apr 18, 2007 at 08:32:40 AM EDT
What I am trying to suggest is that, for the person with the intent to harm others, it is just a matter of the means: a fertilizer bomb, an airplane, a chlorine gas bomb, homemade nerve gas, an assault rifle, or a pair of automatic handgun, that is the issue. I am trying to get us away from talking about the HOW of mass murders and focus on the WHY. What is it that brings a person to do what Tim McVeigh and this guy did? One thing we know: it wasn't the availabilty of guns! The linkage is not guns; it is hatred and the violence hatred justifies.
Were these guys just nutcakes or did they have unwitting accomplishes...maybe people in government or in the marketplace? Did they do something totally off the wall or did they just do in reality what they see done all the time in the media? But more important than that, has their desire to harm others -- to inflict violence on those who had somehow offended them -- been legitimized by our society for either political or monetary purposes?
The question I want us to wrestle with is not gun control but what is responsible speech? We have all kinds of limits on speech: libel, shouting "Fire" in a theater, slander, fraud, incitement to riot, et.al, but someone can suggest that killing a doctor or bombing his clinic is justified under some theory of being "pro-life." We can take the nation to war and justify it because we are weary of negotiating with an adversary. We can talk about the bombing of a city and merchandize it as "shock and awe" and the author of the idea is reelected to office. We can talk about politics as "war by other means" and are lauded as leaders by some political party. We can suggest that a certain president cannot go to a certain state "without a body guard," suggest that there are those in the state willing to assassinate him.
My belief is that if we make the Virginia Tech tragedy only a gun-control issue we will miss the opportunity to talk about speech that incites violence and hatred or that in subtle, or maybe not so subtle, ways legitimizes attacking others because they do not share our opinion on some aspect of society.
The question I am asking is this: Are we a violent society because guns are here OR are the guns and other instruments of violence here because we, as a society, have accepted hatred and violence as acceptable parts of our social environment? And if the latter is the case, is the misuse of our freedom of speech a contributor to that kind of think and, if so, what do we do about that? I am suggesting that what we need in this country is more debate about speech-control...the inculcation of civility, tolerance, gentleness, love and compromise at all levels of society...and less scapegoating guns as somehow the genesis of all that is evil.
After all, the Bible says: "As a man thinks, so is he. "...not whether he is packing heat or not.