America’s gun laws are so utterly daft as not to deserve anything other than derision.
However, a Dirty Harry culture does not change the fact that a gun is a neutral, inanimate object and does no more that those who misuse it wish.
It’s easy to blame the guns-to-go insanity for the outrage, much easier than asking, or answering, the real question: what kind of society can become so indifferent, so cold, so self-centred, so barbaric (remind yourself of the photo of the four huge security men carrying a corpse from the scene as if were no more that a Smithfield hindquarter); so utterly lacking in the humane compulsions that safeguard a civilisation as to create, and then effectively ignore, a broken and dangerous human like Cho Seung-Hui?
It is much easier, and safer, to blame guns rather than suggest that the west’s social evolution of the last half century has not been a complete success.
The old saw was “there is no respect for authority anymore”.
That is no longer true; there is no respect for anything, much less authority; no respect for the environment; no respect for our children; no respect for our older people tied to a nursing home chair and, most frightening of all, no respect for self.
There’s no idea of what respect really is, no effort made to teach what respect really is. In the pursuit of conformity and acceptance, constraint of even the most limited kind has gone the way of limbo — an idea once in vogue but now ridiculed and abandoned, just like a one-hit pop celebrity slobbering on some pathetic game show.
Even the use of the word ‘constraint’ provokes derision. Cho Seung-Hui and millions more in America, and tens of thousands in Ireland, watch DVDs so violent as to make a Caligula cower; so inhuman as to inspire a Fred and Rosemary West, yet we run from the duty of controlling them lest we be accused of censorship.
We abandon our infants to the tender mercies of creches for up to 50 hours a week — the kind of behaviour that would attract the attention of animal protection authorities were it imposed on a spaniel.
Is there a sadder sight, or a more profoundly worrying one, than a normally perceptive parent who insists that placing a child for most of their waking hours in a battery farm full of strangers has nothing but a positive effect?
Would it be too much to say the sum total of women’s liberation in Ireland is that most families have an extra bedroom and a bigger mortgage to service? We might like to think there’ll never be an Irish Cho Seung-Hui, but as Wexford’s tragedy has already shown we are well on the way.
And how likely is it that any of these things will be discussed meaningfully in our imminent pageant?
Seán de Paor