Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Thoughts on Tucson's Tragedy

The tragedy in Tucson is somewhat personal to me, since I have relatives there and have visited there multiple times. Here are some thoughts.

1. Various people are suggesting that we need new laws to help prevent this sort of thing. While we may need changes to laws, now is not the time to have a balanced view of what's needed. As Marvin Olasky pointed out a couple of weeks ago, people my age can't remember a single law that was passed as a result of President Kennedy's assassination. We should not assume that every tragedy requires new laws.

2. Someone suggested making it illegal to have a firearm within 1000 feet of government officials, from the President down to Congressmen. I don't think those officials are any more important than many other people, such as heart surgeons, godly pastors, and mothers of young children. We don't need a special group of laws for every group of people.

3. Lots of people think government is either the source of all of our problems or the solution to all of our problems. Both groups are wrong. If we didn't make an idol out of politics, Congressmen wouldn't seem so important. Their work is valuable, but as a society we over-value it, since we over-value our political positions. Our idolatry of politics is a major part of what makes being a Congressman dangerous.

4. The young man who did the shooting appears to have been both crazy and evil. If we pretend that he was only one or only the other, we won't deal wisely with similar people in the future.

5. It's extremely hard to determine which people are spectacularly dangerous.
--I had a neighbor who was depressed, suicidal and erratic. Once he accidentally left live bullets strewn across the welcome mat outside his apartment. I managed to persuade him that he wasn't a safe person to have a gun, and he and I took it to the police station and left it there, but so far as I know, he never did bodily harm to anyone.
--I had another neighbor who was polite, soft-spoken, and always under control. He tried to set his house on fire with his wife and child inside.
--I knew a lady through Sunday School who seemed a bit odd, but harmless. She went to prison for beating her child to death.
--I spoke once to a fellow who seemed ordinary. Not long after, he was arrested and charged with murder.

6. There's plenty of blame to go around. We can point it all out, but the ultimate blame rests with the person who did the killing. We could blame any or all of the following:
--The booksellers or librarians who enabled him to read a couple of his favorite books, Mein Kampf and Das Kapital.
--The people who made and sold the gun and the ammunition.
--The politicians and political commentators who created a climate of hatred.
--The people who pushed for policies that keep people like him out of mental hospitals (though there's a lot to like about keeping them out of those hospitals).
--The people who promoted Satanism and other false religions. (He reportedly had an altar with candles and a skull, which I think was artificial.)
--The sellers of the illegal drugs that he'd used.
--The sellers of violent video games. I don't know whether he used those.
--The people who knew him and didn't warn authorities.
--Anyone who knew him and didn't share the gospel with him.
--The Founding Fathers, who created a democratic form of government, which is subject to such abuses.
--Those who didn't pray for him, or for their judges and Congressmen and neighbors.

Yes, there's plenty of blame to go around. May we repent of our own sin and pray for the families (including the suspect's family). May we also not put any more blame on any group than it deserves. One person pulled the trigger.


Gary said...

Very well-balanced thoughts. I concur.

If there is such a thing as demonic oppression, then he had it. How could anyone look at his youtube videos and think otherwise?

Personally, I do believe that demonic oppression can and does happen today. But at the very least, the guy was both evil and crazy. Very sad story.

Jim Swindle said...

Thanks, Gary, for reading and for commenting. I'm surprised that nobody else commented, but I think people heard so much about the issue that they were/are sick of hearing about it.