Saturday, December 15, 2012


On Sandy Hook

My response to all the soulful outrage and calls for change in the wake of Sandy Hook-like incidents is to urge the recognition that our American exceptionalism -- our embodiment of what Seymour Martin Lipset termed "liberty, egalitarianism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire capitalism" -- produces both our historic greatness as well as our particular, sometimes horrifying, flaws. Among those flaws are alarming levels of violent crime and incarceration, as well as occasional but all-too-common mass murders. While I agree with common-sense proposals like banning civilian ownership of assault rifles and doing much, much better by the mentally ill, gun ownership is an intrinsic element -- both a producer and a product -- of the American way of life. National self-incrimination -- see James Fallows here -- misses the point that you can't make us like Canada, Norway and Britain in regard to violence without making us into Canada, Norway or Britain. Simply put, and maybe it's callous to say right now, but I'd rather live here with mass murder than in those places without it.


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