ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Saturday, April 21, 2007

We Need More Guideposts

Wretchard @ The Belmont Club has this excellent post regarding the inhumanity which we are witnessing in Iraq and the domestic terror that is Virginia Tech & Houston.

He comments with the following
[some edits by me]:

What makes men kill each other over tomatoes and cucumbers? What makes people kill each other at all? In the last few hours a gunman at the Houston space center took fellow employees hostage, then killed one before killing himself. Over the past few days the US has experienced an epidemic of threats on schools by Cho wannabees, each swearing to break some kind of sick record for psychosis. The spike in these incidents is interesting because they resemble the outcome of a controlled experiment. The numbers of guns out there has not varied much in the last week, but the media coverage of such deranged acts has. The one factor has been held constant while the other has been varied. And the results are strongly suggestive of what my childhood confessors used to emphasize: that bad thoughts have consequences.

As a child I was taught one could "sin through thought, word and deed". Somewhere in the intervening years society seems to have forgotten about the "sins" of thought and word largely because it refused to believe in taboos. There were, the school chaplains used to say, dark doors beyond which it was dangerous for the mind to go. There were thoughts you could not think -- unless you were strong enough to wrestle with what you would find beyond the portal.

Pedophilia, bestiality, extreme cruelty, monstrous behavior -- these are no longer ideas which we dare not entertain or cast out of our minds should they fleet through our consciousness out of the fear of "sin". No. Pedophilia has itself become a cause for enlightened people. The North American Man-Boy Love Association argues children must have sex with adults "before eight or it's too late". Instead we have cast out the idea of sin itself and made the conception of sin as sin our only societal taboo.

But maybe we can "sin through thought and word" after all. Perhaps the school chaplains were right; or at least correct in giving warning about what lay beyond the portal or the "Confirm before you click" warnings on websites. Personally I have gone back to confessing to evil thoughts during Lent; they are sins once again; I am wary anew of the dangers of standing before demons. There may be some beyond my strength.

Malevolence lives in the mind much more than it does in [inanimate] things. Recently the quarter-century crime statistics of two towns, one in Georgia and the other in Illinois were compared. One had forbidden the ownership of guns and the other had made their possession mandatory. The results as you may or may not have guessed, are that crimes in Guntown had dropped while crimes, especially violent crimes in the Gunfree-zone had soared. Like the Virginia Tech incident, people will debate the meaning of these statistics. But like the Virginia Tech case it ought to raise the question of whether, in regulating things, we are regulating the wrong object.

It may just be possible that [blood lust], the exhortation to cruelty, the legitimization of barbarous violence eventually corrodes and then corrupts completely. The Middle East Times tells us that the Christian evangelists who were recently killed by suspected Islamists in Turkey were savagely tortured. [Not only with] knives, but with the idea to drive it.
[...]
What made these men torture those evangelists? It was more than the knives in their hands. If one didn't know better, it would be possible to imagine the conflict among terrorists in Anbar as a scene from the squabbling imps of hell. In the end, nothing protects us so much as our sensibilities. A healthy culture instills in its members guideposts, as orderly societies put up highway signs, not in order to block the roads, but to guide us in our freedom.

On commenter then chimes in with this news - that a 12 year old jihadist in Afghanistan recently used a knife to behead a suspected sympathizer of America.

We could use more guideposts throughout the world...

Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler