Why liberals call mass murders “senseless”

Worth reading in the aftermath of the Dark Knight massacre is my April 2007 essay on the Virginia Tech massacre and society’s habit of describing such crimes as “senseless.” Here are excerpts of the article:

In the coverage and commentary on the Virginia Tech massacre I see no signs that America has learned the lesson it needs to learn if such events are to be prevented in the future. Thus President Bush and many others call the crime “senseless.” But there was nothing senseless about it. A young man, deeply alienated and isolated and filled with hatred, was descending ever deeper into demonism and openly revealing his homicidal imaginings and impulses to the people around him. This is a well-known phenomenon. Something very similar happened just a few years ago at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. The pattern is understood. There was nothing senseless about the killer’s behavior. It was entirely intelligible.

The horror crying out to be explained here is not the killer’s motives and actions, but society’s failure to stop him even though he had clearly and repeatedly manifested his sick and murderous thoughts. People don’t want to try to explain society’s failure to stop him, because that would require criticizing the ruling beliefs of society that precluded his being stopped: the belief that there is nothing higher than the self and its desires; the belief that everyone should be free to express himself; the belief that we should not judge people; the belief that institutions have no legitimate authority in themselves but exist only to serve the needs of individuals….

We call Cho’s act “senseless” because we don’t want to acknowledge that evil exists, and that society has a duty to take forceful action to prevent it. To see these truths would require that we give up our nonjudgmental belief system; so we choose not to see them. Instead we talk about the “senselessness” of the crime, thus giving ourselves a complete pass from thinking either about the reality of evil or about our liberal beliefs that make it impossible for us to oppose evil. The maintenance of the liberal order requires that people not think.

After my essay there was an enlightening readers’ discussion which showed that under our present system, there is no sure way to stop known psychopaths from buying guns.

- end of initial entry -

Gintas writes:

That was an A+ post. It was probably about then that I added “senseless” to the list of key words that indicated I was dealing with someone who was unable or unwilling to figure out and deal with what was going on.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 24, 2012 11:30 AM | Send

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