Yes, the Connecticut Shootings Were a Bad Thing

The man who did the shootings was evil. Evil can rear its head anywhere, even in a tony suburb: one shocked resident was quoted as saying "I thought I lived in the safest place on Earth!"

And that's the problem with a lot of the reaction I see: too many people think evil is something that exists, perhaps, in far away lands, amongst people with incomprehensible customs and practices, but that ought never to touch me, because I live in a respectable neighborhood in a respectable town in a respectable country! They are like the hobbits in The Lord of the Rings: they think they can ignore those goings on in far-away lands, because the Shire is nice and respectable.

While the shootings in Newtown were certainly awful, don't they pale in comparison to the slaughter of 800,000 people in Rwanda in a period of a few months? But during the Rwandan genocide, I never recall being approached by neighbors with tears in their eyes, asking me if I had heard what happened. I don't recall anyone I know immediately advocating for better machete-control laws. Evil is happening in some far-away land to extremely foreign people: well, that's no business of ours, is it?

And, lest you think I am too far removed from Newtown to really be concerned: My sister, two of my nephews, my cousin's widow, and two of their children live (lived?) in Newton, and my cousin's kids went to that the school where the shootings took place: I think my cousin's children are OK (because they weren't in kindergarten), but I don't know that for a fact.

So, no, I am not callous about what happened today. It is just that I already realized that evil can arise anywhere, and we cannot buy immunity from it with gigantic defense budgets and strict zoning laws. That evil should rear its head close to me and mine is sad, but not shocking: I already understood we live in a fallen world.


  1. I hope your family is ok.

    I am likewise always amazed at people who need Mordor or vampires to imagine evil. Did they sleep through history class, or the news?

  2. The impulse behind the reaction is better than I think you give credit for though Gene. It's a concern not just with danger but with moral rot and evil amongst ourselves. It's like the Salem witch hunt, which we still semi obsess over. The main fact there though was how quickly and firmly they stopped and were rejected. (One of the judges eve publicly repented.) it's driven in large part by conscience in other words.


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