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Opinion

Opinion

Opinion: Just asking: Is America crazy?

September 19, 2013

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Is America crazy?

Twelve people killed at a secure naval installation virtually on the front porch of the federal government, eight others hurt, the shooter shot to death, and it’s just another manic Monday, another day in the life of a nation under the gun. So yes, maybe it’s time we acknowledged that gorilla in the back seat, time we asked the painfully obvious.

Is America crazy?

You know, don’t you, that Muslims watched this unfold with a prayer on their lips: “Don’t let him be a Muslim. Don’t let him be a Muslim. Please don’t let him be a Muslim.” Because they know — the last 12 years have forcefully taught them — how the actions of a lone madman can be used to tar an entire cause, religion or people.

In the end, almost as if in refutation of our ready-made narratives and practiced outrage, the shooter turns out to be a black Buddhist from Texas. It is a uniquely American amalgam that defies our love of easy, simplistic categories.

As we are thus deprived of ready-made cultural blame, the story will likely fall now into a well-worn groove. Someone will disinter Wayne LaPierre of the NRA from whatever crypt they keep him in between tragedies and he will say what he always does about how this could have been avoided if only more people in this secure military facility had been armed. And we will have the argument we always have about a constitutional amendment written in an era when muskets were state of the art and citizen militias guarded the frontier. And politicians will say the things they always say and nothing will change.

Is America crazy?

Infoplease.com, the online version of the old Information Please almanac, maintains a list of school shootings and mass shootings internationally since 1996. Peruse it and one thing leaps out. Though such tragedies have touched places as far-flung as Carmen de Patagones, Argentina, and Erfurt, Germany, the list is absolutely dominated by American towns: Tucson, Memphis, Cold Spring, Red Lake, Tacoma, Jacksonville, Aurora, Oakland, Newtown. No other country even comes close.

In 1968, when Robert Kennedy became the victim of the fifth political assassination in five years, the historian Arthur Schlesinger famously asked a question: “What sort of people are we, we Americans? Today, we are the most frightening people on this planet.”

Forty-five years later, we may or may not still be the most frightening. But we are surely among the most frightened.

Indeed, for all our historical courage, we are in many ways a terrified people. Scared of the face at the window, the rattle at the door, the Other who wants to take our stuff. Scared of the overthrow of one of the most stable governments on earth.

So we arm ourselves to the tune of a reported 300 million guns in a nation of 316 million souls — no other country has more guns per capita. Americans, you see, don’t just like and use guns. We worship guns, mythologize guns, fetishize guns. Cannot conceive of ourselves without guns.

Thus, the idea of restricting access to them threatens something fundamental. Apparently, we’d rather endure these tragedies that repeat themselves that repeat themselves that repeat themselves as if on some diabolical loop, than explore reasonable solutions.

Is that a quantifiable malady, a treatable disorder?

Is America crazy?

Last week, the Des Moines Register reported that the state of Iowa issues gun carry permits to blind people. And people began debating this on grounds of constitutionality and equal access as if the very idea were not absurd on its face.

Is America crazy?

Look at those people fleeing the Navy Yard, look at the Senate on lockdown, look at the blind man packing. Ask yourself:

Does that look like sanity to you?

— Leonard Pitts Jr.is a columnist for the Miami Herald.

Comments

hipper_than_hip 1 year, 3 months ago

The Aurora shooter, the Phoenix shooter, the Sandy Hook shooter, and the Navy Yard shooter were all on heavy duty psychiatric drugs.

Not everyone is crazy, but there are documented links to violence/mania/suicide and these psych drugs: http://www.cchrint.org/psychiatric-drugs/drug_warnings_on_violence/

kawrivercrow 1 year, 3 months ago

What meds were each of the above-mentioned shooters taking?

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Not crazy, turned off and tuned out. You only die once in life.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Sure would be a good time to look at the violent side effects of psychiatric drugs.

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 3 months ago

Yes, especially since patients are sometimes on more than Just one drug. Studies are needed on side effects and interactions with other drugs. There have been too many instances that were later traced back to this possibility. But always after the fact and sometimes with Tragic results.

Thomas Bryce 1 year, 3 months ago

I don't think America is crazy. I Do think there are some Crazy People In America. Some of them Break Laws and some of them Write the Laws. Some of them are Homeless and some of them are CEOs. Yes, America does have some Wild and Crazy People as citizens but No, I don't think America itself, Is Crazy.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Haldol, Abilify, Thorazine, Ris-peradol, Trazadone, Paxil, - lots. Any body ever see the constant recalls from the FDA? In the news? All the time?

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

To say psychiatric medications to the exclusion of all other medications is a fallacy. Chantix and Prednisone are two mind-messing chemicals once introduced into and involved with the blood/brain. They just don't look past the money this stuff .

gphawk89 1 year, 3 months ago

Or, could we possibly consider that these shooters were already violent/crazy and that's why they were taking psych drugs (or NOT taking them when they should have been)?

I'll bet a higher percent of patients admitted to a Level 1 Trauma center die than those patients that visit their primary doc in an outpatient setting. Does that mean the trauma center is causing those patients to die? That a trauma center is dangerous?

Chickens vs. eggs. Quit blaming the drugs. The guy was crazy.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Since violence occurs every single day and night without any end whatsoever, I go away from, not into, the inductive reasoning and an assumed diagnosis.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

On the one other hand, doesn't training people to be killers make them killers first?

Bryan Moore 1 year, 3 months ago

Two things. One the "blaming the drug" thing sounds an awful lot like "blaming the gun" thing to me. People all over the country own and use guns with no incidents ever but a few who do commit terrible crimes. Millions take anti-depressant drugs every day without incident but a few who do commit terrible crimes. Is it the problem the gun, the drug or the person? Second isn't it kind of a chicken and egg thing? Did he get drugs because he was troubled enough to hurt someone or did he hurt people because the drugs he got because he was troubled? I guess we'll never know. One thing we do know is that there is no simple answer. To me it is some unknown and variable combination of access to weapons, mental state, religion, politics, opportunity, economy, family pressures, morals, education, birth order, parental attention, moon phases, cosmic alignment, and just having a really bad $#%&ing day. Now if anyone can pick out the next shooter out of the millions of citizens using those criteria I have a Karnack the Great turban and robe for you.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

I'll wager that 99.9% of the patients in mental institutions to die there are NOT there for having shot anyone or causing any manner of death to another.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Can anybody tell me where tardive dyskensia originates? Or why it is permanently disabling?

Maggie Morrissey 1 year, 3 months ago

They either cannot afford the medications or they refuse to take them because of the dazed feeling the medications give them. They don't want to be sedated, live in a fog. I worked in the mental health field for years and most of the problems begin when they decide on their own to stop. They are on serious medication and an immediate/cold turkey stop is VERY dangerous.

Liberty275 1 year, 3 months ago

Some people suffer from mental disorders and you cannot take away American citizen's 2nd amendment rights. That's how it works. If you think that is insane, I really don't care.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

I think some prescribers take a "how high can you fly" mentality with these drugs, but it is a great deal better than it ever was. Which is to say, some forward movement is being made in the treatment of people afflicted and more EEGs could be performed to determine what anything has to do with the brain.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Liberty - Anyone with a diagnosis of mental illness is outright denied Second Amendment rights. It is the law of this land that the mentally ill have no right to protect or defend theirself.

Liberty275 1 year, 3 months ago

A doctor cannot deprive a US citizen of his rights. Only due process can do that.

repaste 1 year, 3 months ago

Typhoid Mary? Sexual predators sentenced to 3 years but locked up for life? The idea that a Dr. Can not say someone is to ill to own a gun is ludicrous. Reason has to prevail somewhere , somehow. How's the saying, "your right to swing a bat ends at my nose"?

Liberty275 1 year, 3 months ago

Doctors do not have the authority to revoke constitutional rights.

"nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law"

Seriously, how can you not understand that?

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Technically, what that means is the sane can go on killing rampages. Just the sane. Nobody else here but us crazy people.

tomatogrower 1 year, 3 months ago

You know, I'm over 60, and in the sixties, seventies and eighties, I knew very few people who owned guns, except those who were hunters, and that's all they used the guns for. Now lots of people own guns, and they keep buying more. And they aren't hunting guns. What has changed? In reality, crime rates have dropped. There are a lot of crime shows on TV, but those are either fictional, or sensationalist faux reality shows. Is it a fad?

50YearResident 1 year, 3 months ago

Crime is down because the people now have guns. Gun purchases by citizens has lowered the crime rate. Criminals are doing less crime because of the fear of armed citizens. Does that make sense to you?

voevoda 1 year, 3 months ago

What is the evidence that increased gun ownership is responsible for the decline in crime? It's not enough show that gun ownership went up and crime went down, because that doesn't prove that the two are connected. (For example, the number of satellites orbiting the earth increased in the same period, but I doubt that that factor is related either to increased gun ownership or decreased crime.) Also, there is good evidence that many countries that have low levels of gun ownership and high skill qualifications for those who do own guns also have low levels of crime.

In terms of the results of gun ownership, we also need to take into account accidental deaths and injuries that have occurred because of guns that were not properly used or properly secured from persons (such as children) who were not authorized to use them. Does the decline in the number of crimes--even if it is a result of increased gun ownership, a point that is unproven to the best of my knowledge--offset the increase in the number of accidental injuries and deaths?

50YearResident 1 year, 3 months ago

How many accidental injuries and deaths have you heard about? We are talking about the United States only. Other countries use intimidation with more severe penalties for crimes committed than the US to control crimes.

Armored_One 1 year, 3 months ago

Try any drive-by shooting in the last 25 years when a child, not involved in any shape, form, or fashion has been killed by a stray bullet.

voevoda 1 year, 3 months ago

Lots of accidental injuries and deaths, 50YearResident. Lots. And lots of suicides, too. And I don't think that Switzerland and Finland and Canada (just to name three) control crime with intimidation and more severe penalties for crimes.

Seth Peterson 1 year, 3 months ago

No, mostly because it's very very untrue.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

I'm trying to imagine people who can't afford their medicines buying assault rifles. I can't imagine.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

I have never needed a gun. But a lesser person would have used one many times.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Resident - shooting unarmed citizens is up. What is the drop in crime?

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Resident - somebody who doesn't have my pain thresh hold ... lesser person.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Resident - Lawrence ks has always had a low crime rate. But if an uptick in gun ownership somehow played a role then what happened to bring about this really neglible reduction in statistics? Are these new guns propped up in living room windows in order to garner the fear effect? I don't mean to disrect but if a lot of little guns are all it takes than what did the LPD buy that military-grade goon gun for?

Carol Bowen 1 year, 3 months ago

Years ago, we took care of people who were mentally Ill. The state hospitals we closed were like college campuses. We closed them to "mainstream". The argument was that they would do better on the outside with outpatient services. Then we cut outpatient services. I could see that one coming. Cutting costs was probably the motivation all along. Now, our mentally ill fend for themselves mostly on the street, and the few remaining state hospitals are dangerously understaffed. We should be rethinking our treatment of people who are mentally disabled. And, yes, we probably need universal background checks before buying a weapon. We are suffering the consequences of the changes we made.

jack22 1 year, 3 months ago

State hospitals were like college campuses, really? That sounds really nice, where do I sign up?

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

I am pro-Second Amendment, the way it was originally written. Perhaps the founding fathers should have guarded this one against amendment. Should have. Could have. Didn't. I have to go. I hope I played nice with everybody.

jack22 1 year, 3 months ago

America is indeed crazy. Besides allowing too many people to own firearms, we have a very violent culture. Just look at how our society is reflected in the movies we make. In our movies and on TV, mass violence is accepted and depictions of love or sex in many cases is censored with an R or X rating. I don't see things getting any better until we improve our education system, provide better health care and mental health access for everyone, and we put some limits on who can legally own a firearm.

asixbury 1 year, 3 months ago

Better education, access to affordable healthcare and the basic necessities of life are what have been shown in history all over the world to bring down the crime rate. Not guns. This guy should never have had access to guns in the first place, due to his mental illness and violent past. People should be allowed to own guns, but it does need regulated to keep a whack-o like him and the Aurora (and Newtown) gunmen from obtaining them. Background checks no matter where you purchased the guns make logical sense. If you’re not a criminal, what do you have against it? The NRA has way too much power and control over their mindless robots.

avarom 1 year, 3 months ago

They systems are crazy......making people crazier than a looney bird, except for Tweet.

IndusRiver 1 year, 3 months ago

Liberty - you're absolutely wrong. I am not allowed to report anything I've been through. End of story.

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