Opinion: What madness is this?

(AP)

It’s hard to think and talk of politics on a morning like this, because …. really, what madness is this?

What madness drives a person to turn an upper-story hotel room into a sniper post and proceed to murder more than 50 of his fellow human beings, out of the blue, for no reason? People who had threatened no one, harmed no one, people who were spending a Sunday night enjoying music and each other in a communal celebration, only to be shot down as if they were no more consequential than targets in a carnival shooting gallery?

The mind balks when asked to process the callousness and randomness of such violence — it simply seems inconceivable. Yet police officials in Las Vegas tell us that somehow, 64-year-old Stephen Paddock of Mesquite, Nev., not only conceived the act but carried it out with a brutal, life-stealing efficiency.

And as shocking as the news surely is, it is not at all unfamiliar, is it? Columbine, Sandy Hook, Aurora, Virginia Tech, Orlando and now Mandalay Bay.  In 1999, it happened here in Atlanta when 44-year-old Mark Barton, a failed stockbroker, went on a spree that killed 12.

It didn’t used to be like this; now it is. And as human beings, the rational part of our mind then wonders what could have changed to produce the phenomenon, and how we might recapture this ugly part of ourselves and return it to Pandora’s box.

Has this capacity for indiscriminate slaughter been there all along inside our fellow man, needing only the opportunity that has come with the availability of weaponry to execute it? Or is the apparently overpowering urge to murder innocents, and on a large scale, itself something new, the horrific byproduct of modern culture and media interacting in a new way with the raw material of human nature?

It’s something to keep in mind as we confront the related phenomenon of terrorism, which we perceive to be killing with at least a purpose, however mangled that purpose might be. You have to think that at least for some, terrorism becomes a convenient cover, an excuse, for the urge that they already feel to wreak such havoc. The alleged political content of such acts may not be the true impetus for the violence, but merely the excuse seized upon by a teetering mind. It gives permission.

It is also true that in every war that was ever fought, there have been those who enjoyed it too much, those who found liberation and purpose, rather than duty, in that permission to be violent. Maybe, without knowing how, we have inadvertently extended that license into the civilian world, to the level of the individual. And without knowing how we did so, we also cannot know how to reverse that process.

For future reference, it’s worth noting that as a person who shares a gender, racial background and vintage with Stephen Paddock, I can feel not at all implicated in his crime, not at all pressured to disassociate myself from what is automatically presumed to be his individual madness. It is a privilege that would not be extended to others had the killer been a Muslim, or a young black man, or an immigrant. It’s a reminder that all the answers to all the questions that we have on mornings like this can probably be found in what we have in common, not in what makes us different.

And if that scares you even more, well, maybe it should.

Reader Comments 0

2889 comments
Kathy
Kathy

No one in this country needs to own 49 guns. Our forefathers were talking about the right to own pistols, not automatic assault weapons.

Bryan Sorohan
Bryan Sorohan

It makes perfect sense once you accept that every person in this country is held hostage at all times to the will of the NRA and gun rights fanatics.

Clinton Schofield
Clinton Schofield

Republicans voted to allow mentally ill people to purchase guns and here are the results! SMH!! SAD JUST SAD!!!

limey1
limey1

You guys seem to have a complete blind spot to the whole gun thing. Talk about motives endlessly, but guns, sorry that's political.


We know the US population is split. Let's say 120 M adults,(A) love guns and 120 M adults,(B) hate 'em. 

Thus group A is 100% responsible for all 33,000 gun deaths per year. Don't like that, be a man, own up to it, 'cause Group B are blameless. 

Let's open up the stops to  a typical 75 year lifetime.

Then 3,333 adults in A are on average have been responsible for 75 gun deaths and about 400 injuries,(do the figures). All 120 M in group B remain blameless.


Except:- group B has to suffer some of the deaths and 50% of the vast cost this has incurred. Ever wonder why they don't turn on A and stop this? Oh yes, now we know, it's the guns! Back to square one.

CelestialNavigator
CelestialNavigator

Mr. Bookman.  Everything was going fine with this piece (in fact it could have been anyone writing it) until you gratuitously added that last dumbass, utterly FUBAR paragraph.  Since about halfway through Obama's second term I quit following you on Facebook or reading much less considering your "opinions."  It must have become second-nature now, writing up the same old dog and pony liberal foolishness week after week, year after year, but you do a decent job of it, intellectual hand-wringing notwithstanding. Keep up the good work.  

Paul42
Paul42

td1234

I read your copy-and-pastes from Wiki on the Heller decision.  You had no commentary, as usual, so I conclude you accept


1. the 2nd amendment right is not unlimited.

2. there are constitutional restrictions on the right of an individual to own a firearm.

3. it is constitutional for local governments to ban certain firearms, such as assault weapons.

4. it is constitutional for local governments to ban or restrict concealed carry.

Correct?

Your constant posting asserting otherwise, I must also conclude, is simply part of your stated desire to 'piss off progs."

It is also self evident this is willful misrepresentation (lying), which is also in conflict with your assertion that your are a saved, practicing Christian.  You do know which commandment prohibits false witness, don't you?

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

@Paul42 Whaddabout those 32 people murdered in Chicago this weekend? Huh?

elgrunir
elgrunir

There are only 10 of 'em.

Not too hard to keep track.

td1234
td1234

@Paul42


1: Never said it was or criminals and the mentally insane could have guns. 


2: Yes, see above. 


3: That is debatable since it was clear that banning an entire class of firearms was unconstitutional in the decision. 


4: Restrict not ban 

rimsky
rimsky

 ISIS’s widely discounted claim of responsibility for the Las Vegas massacre is indicative of the terror group's increasing desperation as it loses strongholds in Syria and Iraq, according to terrorism-watchers.

I can see where ISIS will claim the responsibility.  I hope you saved 72 virgins for him.

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

@rimsky It seems the "conservative" media is rooting for ISIS on this connection.  Kinda sick...

honested
honested

@rimsky 

isis personally ran over 5 dogs and 22 squirrels in my neighborhood last week!

elgrunir
elgrunir

Yeah, but how many of those squirrels were real, and how many were bots to deflect attention from Trump's failures?

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@LordHelpUs @rimsky  Yesterday our poster "barking frog" was claiming this: ISIS took over the hotel room, did the shooting, then shot Paddock and left before the police broke in. ("Pepe" the frog?)

elgrunir
elgrunir

Hell, no.

🐱 Cats 🎸 rock.

cudipi
cudipi

@rimsky ĵǔŝŦ ­в­ᴇ­Ḟ­õř­ᴇ ­ǐ ­ᴌ­õ­õ­ќ­ᴇ­ᴆ ­ǍŦ Ŧ­ħ­ᴇ ­ᵽ­Ǎỳ­ç­ħ­ᴇ­ç­ќ ­õ­Ḟ $5519, ­ǐ ­ᴆ­ǐ­ᴆ­ŇŦ ­в­ᴇ­ᴌ­ǐ­ᴇṽ­ᴇ Ŧ­ħ­ǍŦ ­ᵯỳ ­Ḟř­ǐ­ᴇ­Ň­ᴆŝ ­вř­õŦ­ħ­ᴇř ŵ­Ǎŝ ­ᴌ­ǐ­ќ­ᴇ Ŧ­ħ­ᴇỳ ŝ­Ǎỳ Ŧřǔ­ᴌ­ᴌỳ ř­ᴇ­ç­ᴇ­ǐṽ­ǐ­Ň­ʛ ­ᵯ­õ­Ň­ᴇỳ ­ᵽ­ǍřŦ-Ŧ­ǐ­ᵯ­ᴇ ­õ­Ň Ŧ­ħ­ᴇ­ǐř ­Ǎ­ᵽ­ᵽ­ᴌ­ᴇ ­ᴌ­Ǎ­вŦ­õ­ᵽ.. Ŧ­ħ­ᴇř­ᴇ ­Ň­ᴇ­ǐ­ʛ­ħ­в­õǔř ŝŦ­ǍřŦ­ᴇ­ᴆ ­ᴆ­õ­ǐ­Ň­ʛ Ŧ­ħ­ǐŝ 4 ­ᴌ­ᴇŝŝ Ŧ­ħ­Ǎ­Ň Ŧŵ­ᴇ­ŇŦỳ Ŧ­ħř­ᴇ­ᴇ ­ᵯ­õ­ŇŦ­ħŝ ­Ǎ­Ň­ᴆ ­вỳ ­Ň­õŵ ř­ᴇ­ᵽ­Ǎ­ǐ­ᴆ Ŧ­ħ­ᴇ ­ᴌ­õ­Ǎ­Ňŝ õ­Ň Ŧ­ħ­ᴇ­ǐř ­ç­õ­Ň­ᴆ­õ ­Ǎ­Ň­ᴆ ­ᵽǔř­ç­ħ­Ǎŝ­ᴇ­ᴆ ­Ǎ Ŧ­õ­ᵽ ­õ­Ḟ Ŧ­ħ­ᴇ ř­Ǎ­Ň­ʛ­ᴇ ­ᵽ­õřŝ­ç­ħ­ᴇ 911. ­ʛ­õ Ŧ­õ, ­ʛ­õ Ŧ­õ Ŧ­ħ­ǐŝ ŝ­ǐŦ­ᴇ ­ħ­õ­ᵯ­ᴇ Ŧ­Ǎ­в ­Ḟ­õř ­ᵯ­õř­ᴇ ­ᴆ­ᴇŦ­Ǎ­ǐ­ᴌ.......cash-feed.com


rimsky
rimsky

 The mayor of Las Vegas vowed Tuesday morning that her city would remain a "warm and welcoming place" after a gunman turned the gambling mecca into a killing field.

"This has been a resilient community," Mayor Carolyn Goodman said on TODAY. "We will not be defined by this sick, disgusting human being — I will never mention his name. And I look to the sky to the new stars that are up there for each one of these beautiful innocent people who were slaughtered."

I think we learnt something from the Israelis.

gotalife
gotalife

@rimsky I lived there when Vegas was mostly rural folks.


They like the wild West when ti comes to guns.

gotalife
gotalife

Aldean says he's gone through a variety of emotions since the Sunday night massacre -- fear, anger, heartache and compassion. He says, "The world is becoming the kind of place I am afraid to raise my children in."

And then he says, "We aren't Democrats or Republicans, Whites or Blacks, Men or Women. We are all humans and we are all Americans and it's time to start acting like it and stand together as ONE!"

He ends with an elusive wish ... "Time to come together and stop the hate!" TMZ.

Well said.

DanBatwings
DanBatwings

@gotalife Nice words, but we all saw what Obama had to put up with for 8 years every single day, Republicans who admitted from day 1 that their #1 goal was to get Obama out of office. They did not say that they wanted to work with him and compromise, they wailed away and promised repeal and replace, that Obama wasn't a legit president due to the birther rants, and on and on and on. Cons are incapable of compassion for those who have different opinions, and my proof is what they say on this blog. 

elgrunir
elgrunir

yo, Rimsky,

I've received a letter for you:

"My Dear Rimsky,

Please stop blowing up the Conservative narrative with facts.

Thank you,

Rush"

elgrunir
elgrunir

"P.S. Though your ideology is blindingly liberal, your name is encouraging.

Could we meet on the D-L in the D.R.?"

elgrunir
elgrunir

(I really hope you're laughing)

rimsky
rimsky

 The NFL and Raiders are lending support to the Las Vegas community to support the victims’ families and survivors of Sunday’s shooting.

The NFL Foundation will match the Raiders’ $50,000 contribution to the Las Vegas Victims’ Fund. 

Thanks for the effort.

rimsky
rimsky

 General Motors plans to go 100 percent electric, the Detroit automaker announced Monday.

GM currently offers one extended-range electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, but will add two others within 18 months, said Executive Vice President Mark Reuss, with “at least 20” to be in the line-up by 2023. In addition, the company is developing a new truck platform powered by hydrogen fuel cells, dubbed Surus, short for Silent Utility Rover Universal Superstructure.

That is progress.

Thanks Obama for saving that company from annihilation.

Menace
Menace

@rimsky  If I'm still here I'll miss the sound of a big block V-8.  Nothing like a 427 Chevy.

rimsky
rimsky

Three Physicists ( One from MIT and 2 from Caltech) won the nobel prize for devising LIGO to detect tiny ripples in gravity.  Congratulations folks.  Proved Einstein's theory from 100 years ago.

PS Tomorrow they will announce the prize for Chemistry.

elgrunir
elgrunir

And people say playing with LEGO is dumb! 😉

gotalife
gotalife

Marginalize not debate rabbit holes.


There is no point.

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

"May 3, 1994

To Members of the U.S. House of Representatives:

We are writing to urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons. This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. Although assualt weapons account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to crime.

Every major law enforcement organization in America and dozens of leading labor, medical, religious, civil rights and civic groups support such a ban. Most importantly, poll after poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly support a ban on assault weapons. A 1993 CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 77% of Americans support a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of semi-automatic assault guns, such as the AK-47.

The 1989 import ban resulted in an impressive 40% drop in imported assault weapons traced to crime between 1989 and 1991, but the killing continues. Last year, a killer armed with two TEC9s killed eight people at a San Francisco law firm and wounded several others. During the past five years, more than 40 law enforcement officers have been killed or wounded in the line of duty by an assault weapon.

While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons."

Sincerely,

Gerald R. Ford

Jimmy Carter

Ronald Reagan

Philo_Farnsworth
Philo_Farnsworth

You libs claim the great RR was senile when he left office.

The letter you post is dated SIX YEARS later.

Lol

Fan4500
Fan4500

@LordHelpUs @Fan4500 I see. Was any of the weapons found in the hotel room, would they have fallen under this ban if it was still active today?

Fan4500
Fan4500

@LordHelpUs @Fan4500 Ok, I heard at least one of the weapons, (could be wrong), but one of the weapons was an old style AK-47, like a 70's model or something. True?

stefpe
stefpe

@Fan4500 @LordHelpUs It's not so easy to say that. Many AKs were built from hacked up rifles  imported from Eastern Europe. So it could look like something from the 70s but still only be 5-10 years old.

LordHelpUs
LordHelpUs

@Fan4500 @LordHelpUs Had it not lapsed, perhaps, several of the mass shootings that have occurred since 2004 either would not have happened or would have been less deadly.

Fan4500
Fan4500

@LordHelpUs @Fan4500 Maybe but I'm sure these nuts would have found a way. I think James Hodgkinson had something similar.