The Connecticut massacre, where 26 people, 20 of them children, were murdered by a deranged gunman, produced all sorts of responses. Predictably, most of them were wrong – and in the case of Obama downright worrying.
The president wept openly on television, talked about everybody’s broken heart, shed tears for ‘beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old… [who] had their entire lives ahead of them — birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own…’ Obama then promised that he and Michelle would hug their own children especially tight that evening and tell them how much they love them.
Modern people, Americans in particular, can’t distinguish sentiment from sentimentality and dignified restraint from effusive vulgarity, so Obama knew he was on a winner there. Americans expect their politicians to respond to tragedies with cloyingly lachrymose displays.
Obama was upset – any normal person would be under the circumstances. But if I still lived in America, I’d be deeply worried about the country’s commander-in-chief reacting to adversity in the style of a melodramatic soap opera for the culturally challenged. How would he react to a real national emergency, say to a nuclear device going off in Manhattan?
Not that the sincerity of Obama’s feelings is beyond question. Today’s politicians have cauterised the part of their brain that produces human emotions. Conversely, the part responsible for politicking is hypertrophied. Obama or any other Western leader would put his children up for adoption in Somalia if that would guarantee better opinion polls.
So by parading his well-rehearsed grief Obama was probably scoring political points. One such point relates to gun control, an issue close to every leftie heart. The ‘beautiful little kids’ are thus being used as pawns on a power-play chessboard. No doubt such cynicism is objectionable, but it’s still preferable to a nation’s leader going to pieces for real.
Blaming guns for gun crime is a typical fallacy, but it’s more than that. In America guns are a watershed separating socialists (liberals, in the American misnomer) from conservatives. As they do in everything else, the lefties rely on sheer demagoguery and fiddling of facts to make their point.
No doubt in this instance they’ll blame the horrific slaughter on Connecticut’s permissive gun laws, rather than on the appalling failure of everyone involved to spot Lanza’s mental illness. True enough, what with easy availability of pistols and rifles, Connecticut annually has 22.46 gun assaults per 100,000 population.
Neighbouring Massachusetts, on the other hand, has some of the tightest gun controls in the world, with anyone found in possession of a pistol receiving a mandatory one-year sentence. One would expect the statistics of gun assaults there to be much lower than in Connecticut. In fact, at 30.8 per 100,000, they’re a third higher.
The National Rifle Association is right in saying that guns don’t kill people. It’s people who do that. In this instance the focus should be on the murderer, not on the availability of weapons.
By all accounts Adam Lanza was a strange lad. An honour pupil at school, he was widely regarded as extremely intelligent. Yet Lanza was an obvious sociopath, avoiding all social contact with his classmates, never having any friends and discouraging all attempts by both children and adults to strike a conversation.
Asocial loners are by no means rare in America, and in fact much of the country’s folklore glorifies the taciturn hero who says little but does much. Yet not uttering a word throughout one’s school years and even refusing to be photographed for the school yearbook is unusual even in New England.
Apparently Lanza was deeply affected by his parents’ divorce three years ago, but his mother, a school teacher, looked after him well. Yet both she and everyone else who knew Lanza described him as borderline certifiable.
Why then did he never receive any professional attention? My guess it’s because so many other Americans do.
In the USA, especially on both coasts, it’s considered infra dig not to spend large sums on shrinks, be that counsellors, analysts or psychiatrists. Everyone is encouraged to seek professional help because no one is encouraged to think of himself as normal.
In the land that invented psychobabble and where Freud is still taken seriously, Americans don’t have lousy moods – they’re depressed. They aren’t sad – they’re dejected. They aren’t obsessively neat – they’re anally retentive.
Americans are never inferior, but they all suffer from inferiority complexes. And as to oedipal complexes, these are talked about so much that one gets the impression every other youngster is desperate to screw his Mum, kill his Dad and gouge his own eyes out. Such urges are supposed to create an unbridgeable generation gap.
I used to mock this sort of thing by introducing myself to young Americans by saying, ‘Hi, I’m Alex Boot and I hate my parents. Don’t you?’ After some initial consternation at such lack of inhibitions, the typical answer was, ‘Gee man, funny you should say that. So happens I do…’
A single tree would catch everyone’s attention in a desert, but no one would notice it in a thicket. Similarly, in a country where everyone is supposed to be psychologically abnormal and proud of it, real illness, such as the one Adam Lanza so clearly suffered from, is likely to be overlooked.
Lanza may have been odd, but he was never violent; he was far from being normal, but hey, isn’t everyone? In a culture where everyone is supposed to be suffering from some personality disorder, a real, murderous psychopath may well go undetected until it’s too late.
Changing this or any other cultural perversion is possible, but it’s hard. Much easier is to cry crocodile tears (Bogorad’s syndrome in psychobabble) and mouth bien pensant platitudes about gun control. When President Obama or his fellow socialist Mayor Bloomberg talk about ‘immediate and meaningful action’, this is the kind of action they mean.