The Spectacle Blog

Colorado Shootings: The Return of Personal Responsibility

By on 7.20.12 | 10:03AM

The news out of Colorado this morning is dreadful.

A lone gunman walked into a theater in a North Aurora multiplex around midnight, where the newest Batman movie was being shown. Like the villain in the movie, Bane, the man had on a gas mask. He also had a gun. Opening up on the packed theater he has, as this is written, killed 14 people (updated from 12 by a just-in newscast) and wounded 50 others, according to news reports.

One hates to say this, but we have been here before -- several times. As a kid I remember the horror of Charles Whitman, the University of Texas student who, on August 1, 1966, climbed to the clock tower of the university with a rifle and proceeded, sniper style, to kill 16 of his fellow students on the campus below before being taken out by police. Thirty-two others were wounded.

This followed by 17 days another mass murder, this one committed in Chicago by one Richard Speck. On July 14, 1966, Speck invaded a nurses dormitory wielding a knife, torturing, raping and finally murdering 8 young women in a scene of bloody carnage. Speck was captured and spent the rest of his life in prison, dying 25 years later in 1991.

What is about to happen for today and the next several days is now a well-worn pattern.

The President will speak (in this case, President Obama is now set to speak at 11:20 this morning). The left will seek to make an issue of this, as they did most recently with the shooting by a disturbed loner of then-Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords. There will be the usual shrieking about gun control. There will be mind-numbing discussions of whatever violence is in the Batman movie and isn't our culture all to blame. Some conservative somewhere will be targeted for doing something if this guy has ever watched Fox, belonged to the NRA, listened to talk radio or picked up a book by Ayn Rand. And, of course, the 24-year old man who committed this latest act of horror -- not all that far from the scene of the 1999 Columbine shootings where two high school kids killed 12 of their classmates and a teacher -- will be psychoanalyzed to a fare thee well.

But the fact of the matter is, just as with the mass murders at the University of Texas and in that Chicago nurses dorm in 1966 (when, by the way, liberal Democrat Lyndon Johnson was in the White House) as with the 1999 Columbine murders during the Clinton presidency -- the only person to blame is… the killer. Not the President. Not Romney. Not anybody else anywhere else but the guy who pulled the trigger. (Recall -- after Oklahoma City Bill Clinton sought to blame Rush Limbaugh.)

Doubtless this tragedy will derail the presidential campaign from the news for a bit.

But in fact, in one sense it is entirely relevant.

Whomever this 24-year old triggerman turns out to be, whatever his motive, no matter what he has ever read or listened to or watched on TV or in the movies, he will in fact be the person responsible. 

And in the endless rounds of discussion to be launched, discussing the failure of utopian sentiments and the need to restore personal responsibility should get some focus.

The time to make the doer of the deed responsible is here.

President Obama is caught in a political storm right this minute for trying to say of small business owners that "you didn't build that, somebody else made that happen." That is the anti-capitalist version of the argument the left has tried to make of tragic, murderous moments like the one today. The killer never bears 100% responsibility. Tim McVeigh didn't blow up that federal building in Oklahoma, it was Rush Limbaugh. It was conservatives who shot Gabby Gifford, not the nut who pulled the trigger.

There was no Fox News in 1966, no talk radio, and no one blamed LBJ for Charles Whitman or Richard Speck. The persons to blame then -- and now after all these decades -- were Charles Whitman and Richard Speck.

What is relevant here is that part of what will be the usual blame-game is the issue of personal responsibility. The hard fact that liberalism and its fantasies notwithstanding, there is no such thing as Utopia. (Or Ameritopia, as Mark Levin has well documented in his bestseller.)

Human beings are imperfect by definition, the perfect society therefore by definition unachievable. There is, sadly, nothing that can ever be done to eliminate the possibility that a Charles Whitman or Richard Speck, or a Tim McVeigh of that Oklahoma City bombing infamy, or those two high school kids at Columbine will strike again. Herbert Hoover had nothing to do with the 1929 St. Valentine's Day Massacre. The reason the President of the United States -- this one or any other -- needs all that Secret Service protection is because there are now and always will be nuts out there, from Booth to Oswald and Hinckley.

Make book on it. As life moves on, something like this Colorado tragedy will happen again in some form or fashion.

Why? Because, tragically, the world is filled with imperfection -- and always will be.

And to look at anyone else than the perpetrator on whom to pin responsibility for these shootings is to make the biggest human mistake of all.

Blaming somebody else.

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