Tuesday, April 17, 2007


By Ivan G. Goldman

Periodic slaughters by our well-equipped lone gunmen have become so common that everybody knows what to do and say afterward -- survivors, journalists, relatives, politicians, the people who set up those same sad, makeshift shrines to the dead. We're engulfed by rage, grief, sadness, then we go back to our lives to wait for the next psycho.

So we were well-rehearsed for the tragedy that landed on Virginia Tech yesterday. We know all about those fearful, twisted beings who in this country have access to semi-automatic weapons. Organized, fearful, twisted beings in the National Rifle Association pay politicians to make sure they have that access.

People kill people, yes, but they kill them much more easily when they own such weapons. We're the only industrialized democracy on Earth that protects the rights of lunatics to buy them. They don’t have to prove sanity or even rudimentary knowledge of gun safety.

Meanwhile, the day took its usual toll of killed and maimed U.S. troops in Iraq. The counts always lag, but there we suffer an average of three American deaths a day, plus many more maimed -- all this in behalf of a pointless exercise that weakens us, has stolen our moral standing, makes our enemies stronger, and has unleashed mindless homicidal fury against an entire nation.

America's big tent unfortunately makes room for the mad policies of an administration that panders to a twisted few who wrongfully claim the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights specifically protects the gun rights of homicidal maniacs. It simultaneously pursues a war on the fly, restating its aims as it continues playing its deadly, ad libbed charade. Those of us who see flaws in these policies -- and we are the majority -- proceed with our melancholy, curious acceptance.

Bush-o-ramusses tell themselves their Iraq doings are a necessary cost of business, but that's only so they don't have to face the truth of their sick, irrational longings. We get less oil out of Iraq than we did before the war. If we were to rebuild and properly protect its oil infrastructure, an accounting of the true cost would be in the thousands per barrel. Meanwhile we're a nation without a conservation policy. People still purchase 7,000-pound SUVs. Madness.

Virginia Tech and Iraq are all part of the same bloody tapestry of a nation that lets fanatics sit atop the political system – fanatics attached to a world view that finds Virginia Tech and Iraq unremarkable and necessary.

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