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Thoughts on the Arizona shooting

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Gero Posted: Sun, Jan 9 2011 6:45 PM

The shooting at U.S. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords’ meeting with her constituents is currently dominating the news. My reaction: yawn. I consider the story of how the Nazis were concerned about a dog that was a “paw-raising parody of Germany's Fuehrer” more interesting, but I should explain my reasoning because my disinterest is not solely due to apathy.

The current Wikipedia article about this seems poorly named: the 2011 Tucson shooting. There are probably going to be other shootings in Tucson this year unless Tucson is a very low crime area. Regardless, my reasoning:

Many people are killed each day, but the second a Congressperson is killed, the U.S. news media gives persistent coverage. The reactions to it are typical and predictable: sadness, condemnation, anger, and other negative emotions. This violence is unacceptable is the popular message, but the U.S. government has killed how many innocents in its wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and possibly elsewhere in the past few years? I do not know the answer because the U.S. news media is too busy keeping accurate body counts of U.S. military personnel, but not foreigners. Depending on the country one is born in, one’s life has more value according to news coverage? Can that be openly admitted? Nope. Why is a congressperson’s life considered more valuable than the constituents who, if killed, would likely get much less news coverage? Isn’t the politically correct view that congresspersons are servants, not masters, thus they should not be revered more than the people they represent?

What is the motive for this shooting? Smart people will wait until an investigation occurs, but others lack patience. Patience has ceased to be a virtue (if it ever was a widespread virtue). The current suspect is political language: it’s too harsh, violent, and bad.

Most political rhetoric is about who should use violence against whom. Force everyone to pay X% of their income in taxes or else. Tax this group to benefit that group. Force this person to buy health insurance. Force consumers to pay higher prices because of tariffs established to help domestic producers. Force low skilled workers to struggle more due to a higher minimum wage. Prosecute Bernie Madoff for doing what only the Social Security Administration is allowed to do: run a Ponzi scheme. Clearly, violence is politically acceptable, but on the condition the government does it.

However, I believe there is more than that. I speculate many people do not want to see the violence, although they advocate it. If Bob wants to take Steve’s money, Bob could do so more easily by using an intermediary than by doing so himself. By robbing Steve directly, Bob could see Steve’s anger. Suddenly, a human face on the special interest group with almost no political clout: the taxpayers. However, Bob could be severely beaten by Steven, so best to use an intermediary.

The Bush administration restricted dissemination of photos of U.S. coffins during the Iraq war. It was an attempt to avoid negative media coverage. People can cheer for war, but seeing the causalities could dampen the enthusiasm. To see a human face on the suffering could cause people to weight the costs of war instead of the regularly repeated benefits. Best to prevent that calculation by hiding the costs of war. Best to hide political violence by using an intermediary. Best to hide the political violence by not reporting its occurrence every day.

Now that the violence so routinely advocated has occurred in the open, there is outrage. Pardon my unpardonable lack of tears.

Did this shooter convince you of his ideology which may be the reason for this shooting? I doubt so. Education, discussion, debate – those should have been the first steps to changing people’s views, not gunning people down. Even if the shooter had all the justification in the world for killing each person, the long-term result is to reinforce government power because public perception will only see innocent victims. Without a clear and compelling reasoning for the shooter’s actions, the public can easily assume he was insane.

The only suspect, Jared Lee Loughner, is currently remaining silent. The Associated Press reported Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik says Sunday that there is no evidence that anybody besides 22-year-old suspect Jared Loughner (LAWF'-ner) was involved. Authorities earlier cleared a suspected accomplice, a cab driver, of involvement.

I know many libertarians do not care about the U.S. constitution: they did not consent to it, it is viewed as sacred text (not a human creation), and it comes no where close to justifying the existence of the U.S. government. However, one can use it to defend oneself if one is prosecuted. The right to remain silent is excellently explained and defended in the 2-part lecture Don’t Talk to Cops (Part 1, Part 2). I urge you all to watch it. It will be more educational than the ongoing coverage of this news story.

By the way, were not most of the people who were shot unarmed? Couldn’t the people have better defended themselves if they were not sitting ducks? I am happy that murder and illegal use of a weapon will become crimes, so this will never happen again. I am so glad that insightful political pundits believe removing the means to accomplish violence (the weaponry) is enough to stop the motive from finding another way. This has clearly worked in the ongoing Mexican drug war where drug cartels have extreme difficulty finding any weapons to fight against the Mexican military which has been beating them since December 2006 and completely protecting Mexican civilians. Wow. Thank goodness the right lesson has been learned. I mean, who could justify thousands of civilian deaths due to a flawed government policy? The person who advocated that policy, wow, I can only imagine how much they would be hated. The punishment would probably be death. But we all know the 30-year long war on drugs has not cost 1 innocent life or destroyed countries, families, or in any way caused physical harm. If thousands of people were killed due to drug cartels being empowered by flawed government policies, that would be 24/7 news, with one pundit after another calling for the foolish politicians to be assassinated just like the Big Bad Terrorist Julian Assange.

Back to the reason for the shooting. What about insanity? Was the suspect insane? Libertarian Sheldon Richmann rejected the insanity defense when applied to John Hinckley, Jr. who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan:

Could he [John Hinckley, Jr.] have chosen otherwise? To answer no, one would have to believe that Hinckley had no choice but to purchase a gun, book a flight, board an airplane to Washington, ascertain the whereabouts of President Reagan on March 30, 1981, wait for him to exit the Washington Hilton, and pull the trigger several times. Are we to believe that an illness made him do all this?

Thomas Szasz, the foremost psychiatrist-critic of psychiatry, has been a relentless critic of the insanity defense and verdict for 50 years. He writes, “Regardless of whether a person is deemed sane or insane, a person has reasons, not causes, for his actions. If we reject the actor’s reasons as absurd, crazy, or meaningless, then we consider and call him mentally ill. That, however, hardly constitutes proof that his alleged condition caused him to commit the forbidden act.”

The unsubstantiated claim that the insane suffer from a brain disease cannot salvage the insanity defense. “A brain disease may, indeed be a cause,” Szasz writes. “But a cause of what? Typically, of a functional deficit, such as weakness, blindness, paralysis. No brain disease causes complex, coordinated behaviors, such as the crimes committed by John W. Hinckley, Jr.”

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On the media coverage: this is a country of men and not law (just as all others are today).

On the general event:  Live by the sword, and you just might die by it.  The shooting of a congressman is far less tragic than almost every other shooting that occurs across the world.

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>>The shooting of a congressman is far less tragic than almost every other shooting that occurs across the world.

or even mere yards away?

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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Kim Jong-Il claims his missiles can reach Australia.  I'm afraid.

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I meant that the Arizona shooting didn't just involve a shooter and a congresswoman.

Where there is no property there is no justice; a proposition as certain as any demonstration in Euclid

Fools! not to see that what they madly desire would be a calamity to them as no hands but their own could bring

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Unpopular aside: Deaths of service members are relevant as well. A hell of a lot of them just got duped at an early age into believing that they actually are protecting people. You get your share of vicious assholes and sick bastards but the service isn't characterized by that shit. Mostly its just a sad waste of people on both sides.

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That's what happens when you have guns in society.
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  • That's what happens when you have guns in society.

Back in my day, internet trolls used to put some effort into thier posts!  Kids today have no idea what dagnubbit whippersnappin farfignewton....

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I'm not trolling, it's the truth. If there were no guns, none of those people in Arizona would have been shot.

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ricarpe replied on Mon, Jan 10 2011 11:00 AM

And if there were no automobiles, no one would have been killed by a drunk driver.

"All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree." -James Madison

"If government were efficient, it would cease to exist."

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The advantages of public transportation over private automobile ownership would be another topic altogether, you should probably start your own thread for that.

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otto replied on Mon, Jan 10 2011 11:34 AM

If there are no people, nobody will get shot.

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But there are more people than guns, so guns is easier.

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But there are more people than guns, so guns is easier.

We should get rid of knives too. And, in fact, everything that could ever be made into a weapon. Let's create a styrofoam world!

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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Vagina Jones:
If there were no guns, none of those people in Arizona would have been shot.

What, then?  Would they have been bombed?  Even if no guns was the ideal, how can a society rid itself of guns without turning firearm production and distribution into an underground enterprise and keeping them mainly in the hands of criminals?

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Brian Anderson:
But there are more people than guns, so guns is easier.

We should get rid of knives too. And, in fact, everything that could ever be made into a weapon. Let's create a styrofoam world!

 

Brian, you're being a dick to Vagina.

 
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There's no point in talking about removing guns in "society". Gun's have been invented- people know how to make them. That's just a reality of the world to deal with.  Besides- without guns physical strength is what rules the day when it comes to violence. The gun is the equalizer that can help even an old man. 

 

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By the way, troll, what do you think will happen when guns are gone? People will stop hurting each other?

Brian, you're being a dick to Vagina.

yes

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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By the way, troll, what do you think will happen when guns are gone? People will stop hurting each other?

 

People will stop shooting people, for sure. No accident that the US has such a high homicide rate compared to other countries.

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^Amongst U.S. states.  Obviously there are other factors, but this shows pretty obviously that guns=/= crime.  6 deaths is a tragedy, but people really only care about it so much because it happened all at once and a U.S. Representative was involved.  On a larger scale, guns are not the problem.

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lol again what's the point of a conversation like "Guns shouldn't be here!". They are. Its too late to do anything about it! 

 

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People will stop shooting people, for sure.

Just like, if you get rid of knives, people would stop stabbing others with knives...? You can't get rid of guns.

No accident that the US has such a high homicide rate compared to other countries.

Even if that were true, we don't exactly have a free market for guns. Pretend you plan to rob a bank. Are you more likely to do it knowing that there are strict gun laws or that everyone around you potentially has a weapon?

Do some research of your own before you look like an idiot again elsewhere.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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violent-crime

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Vagina Jones:
No accident that the US has such a high homicide rate compared to other countries.

 

We kind of had this thing called here "slavery" here that we didn't resolve very well.  It was kind of awkward when that ended without any actual slave/master conflict resolution and there was violence and tension for a long time after.  And when they finally, for the most part, figured out how to make it work out . . . LBJ (and other Presidents) decided to step in and make it even more awkward by saying these ex-slaves couldn't make it on their own so the federal government needed to help them out with public housing, public welfare, and "affirmative action."  This created a poverty trap and, therefore, a much higher crime rate amongst these communities.  Yes, if you look here: http://www.disastercenter.com/crime/uscrime.htm, you will see that it was the LBJ era when crime in the U.S. began to get out of control.

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"The advantages of public transportation over private automobile ownership would be another topic altogether, you should probably start your own thread for that."

Is that why San Francisco's public transportation system experiences a major accident every week? We should outlaw pedestrians, that way no pedestrians would be hit by street cars.

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Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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scineram replied on Tue, Jan 11 2011 4:31 AM

Or the advantages of private automobile ownership over public transport.

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jay replied on Tue, Jan 11 2011 7:46 AM

To be fair to the troll (ugh), the only real utility of a gun is for firepower. Other things that kill people (cars, trains, knives, cinder blocks) are used that outside of their designed utility. I don't think the "well, x kills people too so should we outlaw those?" is too strong of an argument in this case. Then again, a troll is impervious to any form of reasoning, so who knows?

"The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated, but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience." -C.S. Lewis
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JAlanKatz replied on Fri, Jan 14 2011 7:58 PM

You know, it's one thing to talk about a society where there are no guns.  It's another entirely to talk about a society where guns have been banned.  In that society, the government still has them, and in addition, the black markets still carry them.  (If the ban were real successful, then we'd have police officers, Serpico-like, selling guns on the black market.)  The latter is clearly not preferable to our present society, but I understand the draw of the former, if it could be realized.  I still think, though, that even this is inferior to a society with guns widely available.  Why?  Because I dislike rape, and I've noticed that men tend to be larger and stronger than women.  

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JAlanKatz replied on Fri, Jan 14 2011 8:02 PM

No, it's not an accident.  It has to do with the fact that throughout American history, we've glorified violence in various ways.  We as a country have an odd history - our founding war was fought between two upper-class European groups over Indian lands.  Our culture is violent.  Other countries tend to have a lower homicide rate than we do.  On the other hand, if you fix the country, we see that banning guns tends to raise the homicide rates, not lower them.

I'd dispute the claim that people will stop shooting people, for sure.  I'm far more worried about being shot by a police officer than a fellow citizen.  Even my fear of fellow citizens would increase once they could tell, by glancing at me and seeing a good citizen, that I'm unarmed.

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We as a country have an odd history - our founding war was fought between two upper-class European groups over Indian lands.

1. I'm pretty sure the Founding Fathers were quite poor. And I'm not quite sure why their "social class" or whatever matters anyway.

2. The land didn't belong to the Indians, or anyone else for that matter. The Indians had a right to be there as much as the revolutionaries did.

3. The goverments of Great Britain and Europeans slaughtered the Indians for land. The Founding Fathers were fighting for sovereignty, not land.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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There must have been a lot of indians to have settled the entire future 13 colonies!!

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"If we just eliminate all the guns, we eliminate violence"

is just like

"If we just eliminate all alcohol, we eliminate drunk driving and other alcohol related woes"

As if that was a possible end, or any beneficial in trying.

Freedom has always been the only route to progress.

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Valject replied on Fri, Jan 14 2011 11:20 PM

Great point.  Incidentally, I am an excellent knife-fighter.  I daresay very few people would have the advantage that I have if I decide to live as a bandit, or just go around senselessly killing people.  All the easier because guns don't exist.

 

But that's just me being sarcastic.  To be absolutely clear, my point is this:  If there were no guns, a person who is planning on killing someone will employ a method other than guns.  Outlaw knives.  They will use sticks.  Outlaw sticks.  They will use their hands.  Outlaw physical contact.  Then only the outlaws will have physical contact.

 

Well, at least that puts the romance back into the notion of banditry...

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Great point.  Incidentally, I am an excellent knife-fighter.

Quick question: did you use DVDs or manuals or anything for knife-fighting techniques, or did someone train you? I've always been interested in that stuff. There's a few short things in The Anarchist Cookbook, but nothing too significant.

To be absolutely clear, my point is this:  If there were no guns, a person who is planning on killing someone will employ a method other than guns.  Outlaw knives.  They will use sticks.  Outlaw sticks.  They will use their hands.  Outlaw physical contact.  Then only the outlaws will have physical contact.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'd much rather get shot in the head than stabbed in the head.

"Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin to slit throats." - H.L. Mencken.

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For me, the real question is why are we focusing on Jared Loughner mental health? Why is it a focus at all?  

Read until you have something to write...Write until you have nothing to write...when you have nothing to write, read...read until you have something to write...Jeremiah 

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JAlanKatz replied on Sat, Jan 15 2011 9:40 AM

1.  Why does the social class of people who wrote the founding documents matter?  Um, because it influences what they would want to write into law?  The colonies were initially settled by charter - grants of land from the King.  This is a semi-feudal system, with a few having tremendous landholdings, not because of some Lockean initial appropriation, but because the King granted them a certain area (with the original inhabitants as slaves.)  Later, the large landholders had a dispute with the Parliament about what to do with western lands - they wanted to claim it further, but Parliament refused to provide sufficient "protection" from the initial inhabitants, but also wanted them to pay for the war that had been fought (successfully in clearing the French, unsuccessfully as far as the Indians) to claim that area.  The landholders balked, and we got a war.  They stacked the Continental Congress with semi-feudal landholders, and made sure that laws reflected their privileged status.  Think of it as a conflict between two rival gangs over who gets to do things to the inhabitants - indentured servants, poor whites, blacks, and Indians.  

2.  You're familiar with Locke and initial appropriation?  Unless you're of the sort who denies land can be owned (Georgist, geoist, or whatever) why would you make this claim?

3.  The founders all supported the British in the Seven Years War.  Clearly they weren't offended by British treatment of the Indians.  In fact, they were very angry about the proclamation of 1763.

The founders, though, are not homogeneous.  Once the revolutionary ideas began floating around, different folks came into the mix.  Hamilton was through and through a defender of monied interests and banks, but Jefferson was a mixed case, and Paine a different case altogether.  Notice which founders get documentary tv shows nowadays.

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krazy kaju replied on Sat, Jan 15 2011 10:09 AM

Brian Anderson:
Quick question: did you use DVDs or manuals or anything for knife-fighting techniques, or did someone train you? I've always been interested in that stuff. There's a few short things in The Anarchist Cookbook, but nothing too significant.

Nobody has ever used DVDs or "manuals" to learn how to play soccer, football, baseball, etc. Unless you've put in hours of very specific practice, i.e. unless you've had thousands of balls-to-the-wall training sessions with partners yielding rubber knives with similar weight/length/feel to other knives, you cannot call yourself a good knife-fighter.

I'm always very skeptical about these people who claim to be great knife fighters or that they're able to disarm someone yielding a knife or gun relatively easily for precisely this reason. Many karatekas, aikidokas, and so forth perform their cute little katas and then they think they know something about actual fighting.

In order to get good at a specific skill, you need hours of specific practice. You can study judo books for hours a day for ten years straight and the moment you step on the mat with a white belt that has been training for two months, you'll get your ass whooped. You'll get thrown around like a rag doll. The same applies to boxing, Brazilian jiu-jitsu, wrestling, MMA, etc.... And of course, there are the people who study books and/or DVDs and then call friends over to "practice." These people often ruin their potential martial arts/combat sports careers by not having someone qualified oversee them. Because they have no experience in what they're practicing, they miss out on key opportunities to have their skills corrected... For example, in grappling arts, beginners often have a problem with distributing their weight correctly or keeping good posture. In striking arts, beginners have trouble with proper footwork, keeping their hands high enough, keeping their elbows close to their body, throwing their bodyweight behind their punches, etc. These beginners who practice without supervision then ingrain these erroneous skills into their practice, and it can literally take thousands of hours to "unteach" them these things. Fortunately, most people like this don't practice much at home, so the damage can't be too great, I imagine.

Similarly, would you trust someone who has never fired a gun, but read a lot about how to shoot a gun, to teach you proper firing technique? I'll be the first to admit that I don't know shit about firearms. But I can tell you that if somebody has never practiced firing a gun, if they've never felt the "feel" of a gun shooting, this is what's likely to happen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7GyYrJMd4s

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krazy kaju replied on Sat, Jan 15 2011 10:17 AM

JAlanKatz:
You know, it's one thing to talk about a society where there are no guns.  It's another entirely to talk about a society where guns have been banned.  In that society, the government still has them, and in addition, the black markets still carry them.  (If the ban were real successful, then we'd have police officers, Serpico-like, selling guns on the black market.)  The latter is clearly not preferable to our present society, but I understand the draw of the former, if it could be realized.  I still think, though, that even this is inferior to a society with guns widely available.  Why?  Because I dislike rape, and I've noticed that men tend to be larger and stronger than women.

Excellent points. One thing I like to mention to gun prohibitionists is that the alcohol prohibition failed, and the drug prohibition is failing now. It's fairly easy to come by pot, ecstasy, heroin, etc. if you just research a little and tap into the correct social networks. Some illegal drugs you can even buy online, e.g. steroids. Banning guns would simply leave guns in the hands of criminals. It would also give them another source of profit with which they could fund their other, more sinister, activities (e.g. gang warfare, turf wars, and other activities which are extremely disrupting to the community as a whole).

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Valject replied on Sat, Jan 15 2011 12:57 PM

"Quick question: did you use DVDs or manuals or anything for knife-fighting techniques, or did someone train you? I've always been interested in that stuff. There's a few short things in The Anarchist Cookbook, but nothing too significant."

 

While I don't personally use any books or manuals (except for an excellent knife-throwing guide I found at a yard sale in Florida), as long as you are familiar with the basics of any kind of fighting, you can learn to fight with a stick or a knife quite easily, provided you put the time into practice.  There are probably a lot more written works on sword fighting than knife fighting, but the basics are the same.  Developing strong arms, wrists, and fingers, learning to cut strongly in eight directions, holding the blade up or down, towards or away from the wrist, and learning to jab and make quick, arching cuts.  All those things that are completely useless in any real life situation, but good exercise nonetheless.

I've never read the Anarchist Cookbook, so I have no comment on what it says about knives.  But if you want to be able to fight with a knife, skip the step of spending time looking for instructions on how to.  Pick up a knife you like, pick a direction, and start swinging your arm.  Every time you swing, imagine swinging at something and see if it really feels right to cut that way.  And, very importantly, never try to block another knife with your knife, unless you are doing so in a panicked, throwing up your arms to save your life kind of way.

And please don't kill people with knives.  It's undignified.

 

I also recommend learning to fight with your elbows if you want to practice with knives.  Elbows complement close-range weapons nicely.  Now, this is all for fun, mind.  If you're interested in self defense, get a gun.  If you can't, then you just have to figure out what works best for you to be able to walk away from a bad situation with your life.  Or run away, for that matter.  There is no better self-defense than being somewhere else.  My preferred method is to talk my enemies into hating each other so much that they forget about me.  Relatively easy when your enemies have no basic grasp of logic.  Kind of like the EU, a band of brothers with nothing good to say about each other...

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