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Minas Tirith Forums » The Prancing Pony Archive » Slightly Different (but related) Question for Americans (Page 1)
Author Topic: Slightly Different (but related) Question for Americans
Cernunnos
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One of the NRA's perennial arguments is: 'Guns don't kill people, people do'. I think this oversimplifies the issue, but it does have a kernel of truth, and especially with regard to the US. Tho' Virginia Tech incidents are not unknown elsewhere in the western world, they really are rare compared to the number in the States (of course, they are rare anywhere, but there is a real difference in scale of occurences). In other countries embittered loners sometimes kill other people; but mostly, they kill themselves. In America, more than elsewhere, embittered loners seem to think they have some kind of grotesque 'right' to take out their frustrations on complete strangers. There's seems to be a genuine cultural difference here, and I would be fascinated to hear your opinions as to the possible cause(s).

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Whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered.

From: Perth, Scotland | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
The Swordmaster
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Hmm, that's a very interesting question, and one I would be interested in hearing other people's theories on.

I have to admit that here in the UK we don't have that kind of mass killing by loners/mentally troubled people, but that's not to say it never happens. It has, but not as regularly.

I think it really must be a cultural thing, but I'm not sure what it would stem from. It may be a generalisation to say that American's tend to be a little more egotistical than others, and it has been said and could be used as an argument, but as I say that would be a generalisation and I don't like to use them.

However, I have seen a blame culture in the US, that has spread here to the UK to a degree. But it is not something that I would say is an American thing, but rather a modern thing, people seem to feel more and more that nothing is thier fault, that there is always someone else to blame.

In some of the video footage that they have shown over here of the man involved in the recent shooting, he says something at one point about 'you' having a million chances to stop him, and that 'you' have blood on 'your' hands. He clearly blames everyone else for his problems, and therefore in his mind this atrocity must have been justified.

So perhaps that is the case, that the blame culture is currently more prevailent in the US, and as it spreads more (it is a growing problem here) we will see more of these kinds of things elsewhere.

Just my two pence.

From: Paphos, Cyprus!!! | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Inc'
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That's quite interesting indeed.
The only thing I can say is that in France I remember only one case, (over the past few years) of some guy who shot several politicians (in 2002) before killing himself. But he was mentally deficient, or something like that.
I can't remember any other case of (for instance) a student who kills a lot of schoolmates and teachers before committing suicide. There has been several cases of students attacking their teacher, but having only a knife or something to do it, they weren't able to commit a real massacre.
I don't think anyone can conclude anything from this, or that horrible events like the Virginia Tech one happen only in America, of course not. I'm just stating some facts.

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Hamfast Gamgee
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I do remember that occasion a few years ago when those two sisters were shot dead on New year's eve in Birmingham. You also quite often here about individual gun shootings in the news in various places. Also knife killings. All very depressing really.

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From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor pi
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This question makes me think of something I occasionally ponder: that is, the rights of the individual versus the good of the community. There has historically been a strong culture of the individual, for example, in America; and historically there has been a culture of the community, for example, in Japan. Any thoughts?

[ 04-19-2007, 07:23 PM: Message edited by: pi ]

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From: Virgo Supercluster, 40º N 75º W | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Arisimi
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quote:
One of the NRA's perennial arguments is: 'Guns don't kill people, people do'. I think this oversimplifies the issue, but it does have a kernel of truth
Not only is there the VA Tech tragedy (and Columbine) and all the other school shootings, but there is the recent shooting here in TN where Mary Winkler shot her husband who was a preacher. Yesterday she was convited of manslaughter and will be given something like 2 to 6 years.
She claims that the shotgun went off "by accident", but tests showed that the gun was in perfect working condition so there was no malfunction.....so in her case (and to "prove" the NRA's slogan) the gun didn't kill him, she did!

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No, I will not make out with you!
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Captain of Gondor
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Well, since the Virginia Tech shooting, supposibly there has been four copycats of that killing. I don't know if this is true or not, but, really, he was trying to get attention, and the media turned him into a star or something by playing his violence videos time after time again.
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Roll of Honor Wandering Tuor
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Roll of Honor Lillianna
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quote:
However, I have seen a blame culture in the US, that has spread here to the UK to a degree. But it is not something that I would say is an American thing, but rather a modern thing, people seem to feel more and more that nothing is thier fault, that there is always someone else to blame.
I think you make a valid point. That's why we have so many ridiculous law suits, but I think that's more of a "how can I get money" thing than really feeling like it's someone else's fault....
But we do have the blame thing. It's always someone else's responsibility, however, I'd like to thing that's more of a human trait than a culturally bound thing. Certainly, though, places like Japan have more of the community focus because that's just been their culture for so long. That might be waning with the younger generation, but not all for the bad....
For example, in Japan Psychology was largely undervalued because of that same community mentality ("don't bother other people with my problems") and that has led to some pretty dramatic instances (such as the gang violence going on in Elementary and Junior High schools). However, now.....due to modernization and more exposure to other country's methods, Psychology is experiencing huge growth. A lot of my Japanese friends at my university were Psychology majors, planning to go back to Japan and work there. So, I think in some aspects the changing of their cultural mindset is for the better. []

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Roll of Honor Wandering Tuor
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Cernunnos – I've wondered this myself, and I don't know the answer, and I'm not sure that there is one. I recall reading an article which suggested that Americans tends to honor self-reliance and "unilateralism" more than Europeans and Japanese (for example), and that this causes our country to produce the stereotyped "embittered loner" more frequently. Maybe there's something to that, though to me it sounds too simplistic and pop psychology-like to be true.

Possibly off-topic, but I just read this, and it's relevant at least to American vs. European attitudes relating to this tragedy: over at National Review, John Derbyshire wondered why the VT students were so wimpy as not to rush the shooter (after all, he didn't have an automatic; "he had two handguns for goodness' sake — one of them reportedly a (mere) 22", Derbyshire noted). His National Review colleague Michael Ledeen took up this theme:
quote:
I think Derb is right to raise the self-reliance theme and the Europeanization or nannyization (?) of American behavior.
So I guess the killer was too American and the victims, too European. [] Or something.
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Cernunnos
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So this Derbyshire person thinks 'letting yourself' get shot (when unarmed, when attacked out of the blue, when seeking for ways to escape, when maybe helping others escape!) is 'wimpy' does he?

Obviously he would never be too frozen with shock to react. He would know exactly what to do if some nutcase appeared out of nowhere and started murdering everyone around him with rapid fire by two hand-guns.

I fear Mr Derbyshire's knowledge of:

i) human psychology
ii) what handguns can do

leaves much to be desired.

What a complete and total a**hole!

[ 04-20-2007, 05:03 PM: Message edited by: Cernunnos ]

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Roll of Honor Gna
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Cernunnos wrote

quote:
What a complete and total a**hole!
But wait, there's more! []

Bowyer

Leeden

And this cr*p from Microcephalic Michelle Malkin's website:

quote:
My column this week:
There's no polite way or time to say it: American college and universities have become coddle industries. Big Nanny administrators oversee speech codes, segregrated dorms, politically correct academic departments, and designated "safe spaces" to protect students selectively from hurtful (conservative) opinions—while allowing mob rule for approved leftist positions (textbook case: Columbia University's anti-Minuteman Project protesters).
Instead of teaching students to defend their beliefs, American educators shield them from vigorous intellectual debate. Instead of encouraging autonomy, our higher institutions of learning stoke passivity and conflict-avoidance....

And as the erosion of intellectual self-defense goes, so goes the erosion of physical self-defense. Enough is enough, indeed. Enough of intellectual disarmament. Enough of physical disarmament. You want a safer campus? It begins with renewing a culture of self-defense—mind, spirit, and body. It begins with two words: Fight back.

EDIT: Ooops, almost forgot to link Debbie Schlussel's bizarre ALL CAPS paranoid ideation, which Sadly, No! appropriately calls the "Debbie Schlussel Meltdown Carnival". []

[]

I think Mark Steyn at the National Review has also weighed in with his accusations of VT student cowardice, but this stuff is making me really nauseous, and I'd like to be able to eat dinner later tonight. []

[ 04-20-2007, 06:12 PM: Message edited by: Gna ]

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Roll of Honor EowynatHeart
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quote:
John Derbyshire wondered why the VT students were so wimpy as not to rush the shooter (after all, he didn't have an automatic; "he had two handguns for goodness' sake — one of them reportedly a (mere) 22", Derbyshire noted).
That coward son of * ***** [] who does he think he is?
How would he like it if I broke into his house, locked his door so he couldn't get out and brought my "mere .22" upside his head? Bet he would cry like a baby. (sorry in advance, I just think that was so wrong)

Honestly, I think the system just failed. The shooter had a history of mental illness, he had been committed once and that did not show up on his record when he went to purchase the gun. The faculity had some guess as to his mental unstability but their hands were tied. Because he had not made a direct threat to anyone. I think, like someone posted earlier, that maybe the rights of one should be sacraficed to save others.

I don't know the answer to the question. Would it had happened if we had tougher gun control laws *shrugs*? I don't know. If he was that determined to get a gun, he would have found a way. Is it cultural? It's not been that long ago since I was in high school and I just can't see that happening. Young people are just so different from when I was 16-23 years old. I see it all the time and I shake my head and think, why or how could they do such things. Maybe I'm just being naive.

VT being only about 2 hours away, has hit close to home. I know several that attended there and they are just shocked and heart sick about it. Coach Rider came into the restaurant tonight with his VT hat on (grandfather of Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys) whose grandson (Jason's brother) attented and played football for VT.

I just know we need to do something to make our schools safe and secure once again.

VT has updated their website if you wonder about who the innocent were. Those families could use our prayers and blessings.
Virginia Tech

[ 04-20-2007, 07:08 PM: Message edited by: EowynatHeart ]

From: Wait! The map was upside down!!!!! | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Imbëar
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quote:
It begins with renewing a culture of self-defense — mind, spirit, and body. It begins with two words: Fight back.
I [] Michelle Malkin!


Imbëar

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Talan
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quote:
John Derbyshire wondered why the VT students were so wimpy as not to rush the shooter (after all, he didn't have an automatic; "he had two handguns for goodness' sake — one of them reportedly a (mere) 22", Derbyshire noted).
So everybody's supposed to be a superhero? They're college students. As a college student, I've naturally become comfortable with the idea that the UT campus is a safe environment--after all, VT, like UT, is a very large campus full of people. It's natural to feel safer among such a huge crowd.

So how do you react when somebody bursts into the room and starts shooting during your 9am class? You don't have time to think about it...not even time to comprehend it. These are not war veterans or policemen. When you are confronted in a split second with something like that...especially in an environment that you're used to being a place of safety...you just don't know how you'll react. I've thought about what I'd do many times. I'd like to think that I'd fight back. I'd like to think that I'd hold my hefty backpack in front of my heart and charge the attacker with my knife (I always have a Swiss Army Knife with me, mostly for utility purposes, but I guess I could use it for self-defense as well).


But I don't know I'd do that. I have never had my life threatened. Maybe I would cower against a wall and die. Let's face it, none of us are quite as brave as we like to think we are...at least if we haven't endured the fear of death, which very few people in today's western world have.

Now, a .22 is a weapon that will not usually kill on the first strike, unless you hit in the right place. But the guy had a 9mm handgun. That's a law enforcement weapon. Getting shot with a .22, while it likely won't kill you immediately, will cause more pain than most people are capable of enduring (at least when struck with the fear and confusion of the situation). A .22 is easily blocked by the ribcage, and except at extremely close range (gun to head) is unlikely to penetrate the skull. But the fact is, unless you've got an incredible amount of adrenaline (and blind rage) going, you're going to recoil once hit, and it's unlikely you can really fight back.

None of this is really the point, though. During World War II, 18 (sometimes 16) year olds became adults in a baptism of horrific fire. But in today's world, college students, despite their age, are still kids. I'm 23, and I've still got growing up to do. What kind of sick bastard actually expects... expects... these kids to throw themselves at their attacker? How many of the kids who fought in World War II were paralyzed with fear in their first combat experience, and died because of it?

What this ignorant jerk is asking of these kids is not common decency. It's heroism. And you can't blame people for not being heroes. There is no cowardice in the face of such sudden, brutal madness. The only cowardly acts are those of the madman himself. I was picked on in school. Constantly. But if I had the luxury of time to choose, I'd still prefer to die trying to defend the people who picked on me in middle school against sick ****s like Cho, rather than being the one who pulled the trigger.

Sorry, this is just a rant. I won't have time to really post properly until I'm done with my recital. But I do think it had to be said. How dare anybody question the courage of a bunch of scared college students who in one moment were in a situation of complacent safety, and in the next moment were confronted with death itself?

From: Austin, TX. Home of awesome. | Registered: Aug 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor EowynatHeart
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I am going to be sooooooo bashed for this [] just don't leave a mark.

I believe when we stopped spanking our children and gave them opinions, when we took prayer and the teaching of the Bible out of schools (which teaches; thou shall not kill and love thy neighbor as thyselves), when we started giving ourselves and our children our every want and desire, when we stopped taking responsibility for our actions upon ourselves, when we became so intolerant of each other, when we started caring more about an owl in some tree in the middle nowhere and stopped caring about unborn children and having a hole drilled in their heads and their brains sucked out, when we became a nation of political correctness, when we started giving hard core criminals more rights than law biding citizens, when it became ok to indulge ourselves with every known perversion that can be imagined............that is why we have to ask questions like WHY or HOW. We're lost.

From: Wait! The map was upside down!!!!! | Registered: Mar 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Joe Stupid KingofBelfalas
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Bashed? You should be rewarded. I Completely and wholeheartedly agree with you EOH. When we stopped disciplining our children, they had a sense of invulnerability.

One of the victims Liviu Librescu survived the holocaust, and he barred the door with his lifeless body for about 4 minutes took thrre bullets to the chest and one to the head. If a 76ish, year old man can do that, heshould be given the medal of honor(or highest civilian honor).

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Hamfast Gamgee
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Nice bit of political satire WT!

[ 04-21-2007, 03:16 AM: Message edited by: Hamfast Gamgee ]

From: Bagshot Row, Hobbiton, The Shire! | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Roll of Honor Adulithien
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Not here to bash... you know I like you. []

But I do have quite a few questions! I know you're a smart lady and you can do better than buzzwords and simple rhetoric. I've seen you do it. So:

quote:
when we stopped spanking our children and gave them opinions
Is your opinion bad or good, then? Is that an unfair question because you're "a grown-up"? Are children not entitled to human respect? I have a lot more respect for them than most people, because they're not expected simultanteously to learn/grow/develop while being passive/subservient/non-independent. Tough combination to live up to! And if they're not entitled to that, at what age do they become worthy? And are you really implying that opinions cause shootings? [] Maybe I'm just dumb, but could you connect those dots a bit more?

quote:
which teaches; thou shall not kill and love thy neighbor as thyselves
This is very ideal, I'm sure you know. This country has been dominantly Christian for quite some time and I am not sure that's ever had an effect on the crime rate. Also has little to do with chemical imbalance. It sounds nice, but how effective would it really be? If everyone actually listened, it would be great. [] Listening is the problem, don't you think-- not so much an absence of teaching?

Honestly, I think the most Christian/generally humane thing that could've been done to prevent this situation is reaching out to the guy. He'd been isolated and bullied for a while. I can only imagine what may have happened if anyone had tried talking to him, oh, I dunno... a couple years ago. (He was a bit fargone by the time this happened, it seems.) I know teachers tried, but by all accounts, none of his peers did really. One should assume he wasn't born twisted, right? Babies are supposed to be innocent and all... you'd think that somewhere in his past, there was a time where someone could've actively brought him into the human circle... and before he seemed dangerous. I really think narcissism and superiority complex (maybe with a healthy dose of xenophobia) played a pretty nasty part in this, and plays a pretty nasty part in some things almost anywhere you find large groups of young people. But that's a whole separate discussion.

quote:
when we started giving ourselves and our children our every want and desire, when we stopped taking responsibility for our actions upon ourselves
Agreed. Entitlement and blame shifting are huge issues that effect tons of things. []

quote:
when we became so intolerant of each other
When did that start, anyway? [] I can't imagine there was ever a time when humans fully tolerated one another.

quote:
when we started caring more about an owl in some tree in the middle nowhere
So being good stewards of the Earth like your Good Book says is bad? I'm confused! [] And what does that have to do with gun violence, anyway? Or political correctness for that matter-- do you see those having an effect? Could you flesh this out a bit more for me, please? I'm particularly interested to hear what political correctness has to do with this.

quote:
when we started giving hard core criminals more rights than law biding citizens
This is news to me. Last I checked, they can't vote or have weapons in many cases, among other things. They don't have any special rights we don't have, the only difference is that most regular people don't always exercise those rights because they're not always incarcerated or at the mercy of the justice system. I will never understand where this gripe comes from. Is it because lawyers sometimes make a case out of Constitutional law and societal cruellty instead of focusing solely on the client? Really, where did this misconception come from?

And I hope you won't take my comments about reaching out to be some let's-just-hold-hands kind of crap. I'm pretty serious about it-- almost any political leaning of mine boils down to fostering community or issues stemming from the lack thereof.

Wasn't it you saying that kids seem different these days? I really think (and I've noticed it even within my lifetime) that one of the major things that has changed fundamentally is that people don't necessarily connect as much anymore. There's the Internet and cell phones and any number of technical devices that do a decent job of substituting for actual interaction. And now that basically every house in the country has a TV, you can substitue mindlessly watching something from the same couch as another person for actual interaction!

So in that way, it seems like technology, urban development, super-specialized interest groups, cultural barriers and all sorts of things contribute to making people feel more divided from one another. There's something else I can't put my finger on... I mean, technology is not INHERENTLY divisive and disunifying, it's something about what we do with it... sorry, this is where my thoughts melt into a mist of development. But I am serious that I think lack of unity, compassion, connection (or whatever you want to call it) between people has a huge influence on this event and many other phenomena.

[ 04-21-2007, 04:12 AM: Message edited by: Adulithien ]

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Roll of Honor Freya
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Nice post Addie. Pretty much what I would have written.

*hopes EaH doesn't think she's smashing her. Likes her too much for that* []

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Roll of Honor Adulithien
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Me, too. []
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Inc'
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Indeed, very interesting post, Adulithien. And I think I understand EaH's feeling.

I'd just like to add that the increase of technology and of technological progress in our society and our world in general causes an enormous increase of information as well. I mean that we're able now to know very precisely what happens almost everywhere on Earth, which was not true a few decades ago, and even less a few centuries ago.

And, because of all this information, we can have the feeling that there's much more violence now that in the past, but I think that may be only partly true. It's just that we now are aware of every crime, every murder that takes place, and that the weapon that are used are more frightening. Media constantly remind us that, there's no way you can escape it, and people seem now to live in constant fear. I think we should still be concerned, but that we don't want to become paranoid.

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Roll of Honor Gna
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Several of the accounts I read indicated that some of Cho's peers did try to reach out to him. And as Talan pointed out, many people are bullied and teased and socially isolated in school...yet they don't become mass murderers. I'm surprised that no one has mentioned the UT Tower shootings, which occurred in the mid-1960s, well before the advent of the major social changes that EaH blames for recent shootings.

Charles Whitman methodically shot 50 innocent students and faculty in a planned, rationally executed attack, and afterwards, people tried to explain actions that perhaps have no explanation. He had a brain tumor, he had amphetamine psychosis, he was trained to be a killer by the Marines, he was spanked by an overbearing father, etc. None of these "explanations" holds water. None of Cho's ramblings and justifications make sense either...there is no mention that he had to hold any sort of job to be able to afford university, and certainly an English major who wrote at a junior high school level (read Cho's plays if you doubt this) would not have garnered any scholarships. He had the cash to buy a $500 Glock and loads of ammunition at frikkin' Walmart, for Eru's sake. So why all the ranting about rich kids, when by most standards, Cho was fairly privileged himself? His actions made no sense, just as Whitman's made no sense, and those of Timothy McVeigh (12 years ago April 19...an anniversary that was conveniently ignored by the MSM. 168 innocent people slaughtered by a self-righteous piece of s***) made no sense. We have to hope that such angry psychopaths are 1 in 100 million freaks.

I think the most egregious entitlement and cowardice come from those who expect other men and women to risk their lives in an indefensible war in Iraq, while they themselves stay safely in the US- rattling sabers, playing with handguns, photographing themselves brandishing weapons, and all the while complaining about paying taxes (much of which go to support the aforementioned war in Iraq).

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The wisest thing I've read about this tragedy:

http://www.opinionjournal.com/columnists/pnoonan/

She should run for president.

e: Back to Cern's thread-starter,
quote:
In America, more than elsewhere, embittered loners seem to think they have some kind of grotesque 'right' to take out their frustrations on complete strangers.
One should also note that they like to violently act against "unarmed and defenseless" strangers. I believe it's part of the pathology -- people like Cho, the Columbine shooters, etc. relish the power that they wield over helpless people. It's how they strike back against being "victims" over whatever perceived threat.

[ 04-21-2007, 06:35 PM: Message edited by: Silmahtar ]

From: Vinya-Tárilos | Registered: Aug 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Minas Tirith Forums » The Prancing Pony Archive » Slightly Different (but related) Question for Americans (Page 1)
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