April 19, 2007

The Psychology of Overreaction

There's a reason I call this blog Randomblings. It's mainly because I want to ramble on and get all of the short thoughts out of my head and onto paper (heh) without having to bother putting them together to form a complete argument or stated thoughts. Today will be one of those days.

What is it that drives people to overreact to their environment? Let's start with the VA Tech shooting this week. A crazed mass-murderer went on a rampage and killed, what, 33 people, and wounded a score more. He planned the rampage, as evidenced by the note he left, the bomb threats he called in, the fact that he purchased two weapons at separate times. This man was crazy. I feel horrible for the victims, really, truly horrible. But that's the entirety of my reaction. I'm not about to put the blame for this incident on the shoulders of anyone else. Others, however, are blaming the campus police, the university, the teachers, the mental health community, society (video games - Dr. Phil), immigration policy [thanks, Bill O'Reilly] and Virginia state gun laws.

The flaw here is that people look at these statistical outliers and start to react with their preconceived agendas. People who don't like guns blame gun laws. People who don't like immigrants blame immigrants. People who don't like rent-a-cops blame the campus police. We need to focus, people, and blame the crazy son-of-a-bitch that shot 50-odd people.

So many thoughts run through my head. I don't know how many of you already know, but I would call myself a Libertarian. One of the first thing I think about when people start talking about more restrictive gun laws to help prevent this is the oft-misquoted phrase "Those who would sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither." I looked up the quote, it's actually "Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.", and researchers believe that the quote belonged to Benjamin Franklin, although it goes unattributed in the original publication (info on Wikiquote btw). No matter who said it, there is a lot of wisdom in this little quote. The erosion of our rights is more dangerous to American society in the long run than individual accounts such as what happened at VA Tech.

As far as rights erosion goes, gun rights have long been hotly debated, but free speech probably less so, especially when we're talking about the opinionated speech of our fellow man when it does not use federally funded airwaves. Well, the day after the shooting, a student was arrested in Colorado for stating out loud that he was empathetic toward the VA Tech killer. He was arrested for saying that some things about his environment made him angry enough to kill people........ARRESTED......AND CHARGED WITH A CRIME......FOR OPENING HIS MOUTH.

I guess the police would rather that he close his mouth and just stew on his thoughts for a while. God forbid that he discuss his feelings openly with students and teachers. No, they might be shocked to know that he was angry. It is better for him to keep his feelings to himself until he snaps.....


God (if you believe in him) created us with the ability to speak. We have vocal chords, brains to think with, air in our lungs. To legislate our ability to speak when the speech itself does not deprive our fellow man of life, liberty or the ability to pursue their own happiness, should be a crime because that legislation itself would be depriving each one of us of our liberty.

I could write more, but I don't have the time right now....I'll rant more later.

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