The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

An attempt to put it in perspective

The events of January 8th have prompted a number of blogs, pundits, and editorial boards to make statements about the tone of discourse in this country. It would seem, based on these, that the tone and the level of anger and animosity has reached critical levels. Maybe so. I think it is quite a bit less than during the events leading up to the Civil War. Even less than what I saw in the 1960's over Civil Rights and the Vietnam War.

We won't reduce the tensions by repressing the anger, I don't believe. That would just feed the "beast" and create more outbursts such as what happened on that day. Besides, I believe the anger of citizens, collectively, is what drives changes in policies and that is mostly for the better. People vote out politicians with whom they are angry, people protest against policies which they see as "unfair" or "unjust", and people vote for "change" out of anger and frustration with the status quo.

We've had these violent outbursts like this one in Tucson before, many of them. A McDonald's in San Ysidro, California, back in 1984 was the scene of a horrific massacre. Charles Whitman back in 1966 killed 16 people and wounded 32 others from a tower at the University of Texas. There have been numerous others throughout history, some with political overtones (think Harper's Ferry or Shays Rebellion) but most not.

These are not unique to the U.S., we have only to look at Rwanda some years ago (1994). Or to the insanity of the Islamic terrorists of today, or to the radical terrorists of the 60's and 70's with the skyjackings and embassy attacks. Madmen can be anywhere. Every society has had these things in their histories.

It is only natural for the rest of us to want to find some thread of rationality behind these acts. Some cause we can determine so that we might prevent them in the future. I don't see any way we could do that. We cannot remove all guns from society and prevent them that way. Two incidents in China back in April of 2010 prove this. Two separate incidents of knife wielding madmen within a couple of days. No guns but many killed and injured. Even a regimented society like China cannot prevent these things.

Human beings are simply capable of great and irrational violence. That won't change because of gun control laws or a toning down of the type of political discourse in this (or any) country.

We cannot change society into some peaceful and idyllic paradise. Not with laws, not with repression, not with an increase in freedom. All we can do is try to protect ourselves, try not to be complacent and try not to become too paranoid.

In looking for a history of massacres or acts of major violence in the US, I came across this page:

He's probably harmless.

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