May 6, 2007

Psychology on Tap

Tragedy? Or wickedness? is the title of George Weigel's latest column. He asks the question why all the news articles on the 32 deaths April 17th at Virginia Tech are called a Tragedy, when they are more appropriately called Hellish or Wicked - because "Hell has sometimes been explained as the condition in which one is so utterly self-centered that, incapable of relationships or love, one's personality disintegrates into oblivion." The psychological term "Self-centered" describes the state of one's mind, but Hellish describes the state of one's soul, or the soul "of someone who can shoot 32 innocent people in cold blood."
While the absence of good or God can help us understand how evil things can happen in the world, the mystery of iniquity demands that there will be personal expressions of this lack of the Good.


JayG said...

From Kenneth Justin:
Columnist Bob Herbert plays fast, loose with facts:
Letters: The Republican Newspaper, Springfield, 5/6/07

Columnist Bob Herbert really should have done his homework, before commenting on the recent Virginia Tech shootings. ("Feelings of inadequacy fuel killers," The Republican, April 20.)

He states that in the United States each year more than 30,000 Americans are victims of firearms misuse. Readily available statistics from U.S. government agencies refute this claim. According to various reports from 2004-2005, we learn that violent crime (murder, rape, assault, robbery) has decreased 12 years in a row, and is now at a 26-year low.

About 1.75 million people per year in the U.S. use firearms successfully against criminal assault. And murders and robberies are down 43 and 47 percent, respectively. These numbers are really not surprising, since 36 of our 50 states allow and encourage mentally stable, law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons for self-defense. And thanks to various "Refuse to be a Victim" programs and other innovations, in a population of over 300 million, Americans own more than 200 million firearms. I think most reasonable people can see a clear cause-and-effect relationship between greater self-defense awareness and lower crime rates.

There were, based on the above reports, about 10,000 firearms murders and about 1,100 fatal firearms accidents in the U.S. in 2005 - surely a tragic number, but far, far fewer than Herbert's "30,000 yearly." The firearms murders amount to about four-tenths of 1 percent of the total deaths from all causes (about 2,400,000).

And you can be pretty sure that, if an available gun hadn't been the murder weapon, a kitchen knife, a two-by-four or anti-freeze in the beer would have been. The fatal firearms accidents amount to about seven-tenths of 1 percent of all accidental deaths - fewer than lightning strikes, choking, falls and drownings.

I would hope that Herbert would draw a reasonable conclusion from reliable statistics - more gun owners, more guns, more responsibly armed citizens means fewer crimes of violence. And yes, I own guns, have been an NRA member since 1962 and a local rod-and-gun club member since 1966.

Kenneth Justin
Springfield, Mass.

Jerry said...

I heartily agree that 'wickedness' is the right word, not 'tragedy'. I suppose in a culture indisposed toward 'judgmentalism' and where sin does not exist, it makes sense to say that guns are the problem, not the evil intent of the one who pulls the trigger.

I suppose Hitler was a tragic figure as well, mostly just misunderstood or (gasp!) marginalized by people at some point, or something like that. And Margaret Sanger was downright heroic.