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April 19, 2007


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Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition...

As a foreign observer, I cannot help but wonder at the combination of religious fervour and easy access to deadly weapons. I noticed that some students who, when interviewed, stated that they would have willingly "shot [Cho] to stop him from shooting others". I thought, "but shooting people is the problem, not the solution".

What would you have the students do? Stand by and do nothing even if they had a weapon because "shooting people is the problem"?

I am going to take what is probably an unpopular position, but what is the difference between killing 32 people and killing 1 person? Is killing 1 person less insane? Is this sensational because more people can imagine killing one person?

I don't care if this person claims kinship with Voltaire. And it makes no difference if I or anyone else claims that religious zealotry is contagious. Killing has always been both normal and intolerable.

Religious belief has as much to do with violent behavior as ergotism does; seems to me to be mental shorthand to paint all manias with the same brush.

But really, where's the line? Moral relativism has a nasty way of becoming apologetics.

Oh, sure- and I suppose if someone had assassinated Adolf Hitler and prevented the Holocaust that would have been equally bad too!Give me a break!

Hello Bob.

What would you have the students do? Stand by and do nothing even if they had a weapon because "shooting people is the problem"?*

No, I wouldn't have the student's stand by and do nothing and I didn't imply that at all.

The ideal that only violence can stop violence was destroyed by Ghandi's satyagraha movement. The problem is that people worldwide get very little education on how to live non-violently.

There is a zen koan:

A disciple is invited to a tea ceremony by the master. When the student enters the room, he sees that there is a big stick by the master's side as the master pours the tea. Just as he's about to take the offered drink the master says "if you drink, I will hit you with the stick. But if you don't drink, I will hit you with the stick".

What does the disciple do?

The disciple should immediately strike the master with the stick and say, "There is no 'me' to drink or not drink the tea and no 'you' to hit me with the stick, you fool."

It is all well and good to sit around and philosophize about violence over a cup of coffee, but when it comes your way you have to deal with it. If I have a weapon and Cho is running around shooting everyone, I'm probably gonna get him before he kills more people.

It's quite true that mentally or emotionally disturbed people often turn to religion -- perhaps as a form of self-medication. For instance: Can anyone doubt the author of Leviticus was troubled? The notion that God considers eating shellfish and wearing garments of two fibers abominations -- that is more like a symptom of psychosis than a genuine spiritual insight. Cho is not the first disturbed person to turn to religion, and he will not be the last.

*It is all well and good to sit around and philosophize about violence over a cup of coffee, but when it comes your way you have to deal with it.*

I know. I am a refugee from violence. I had to flee my home back in 1999 and I lost everything I had or owned because of it. I dealt with it by running away because it's an effective, life preserving tactic. And yes I know it wouldn't be everybody's choice, but from my perspective I have survived to tell the tale.

*If I have a weapon and Cho is running around shooting everyone, I'm probably gonna get him before he kills more people.*

Should I stand and cheer?

But it is still only philosphizing as you indicate by the word *probably*: if I am not in that situation, and neither are you, then we are just chatting over coffee together. So why is your philosophy superior to another's?

I agree, there's a time to run. I also had to abandon a home.

By "probably" I meant I'm going to shoot Cho if he doesn't get me first. No philosophy about it. Just survival, whether somebody cheers or not.

Before enlightenment: chop wood, carry water.
After enlightenment: chop wood, carry water
Before enlightenment: stop the madman
After enlightenment: stop the madman

Brian, some great points in this article. Thanks!

And guess what, by Wednesday, FoxNews at least twice referred to Cho's "Anti-Christian" rants. What anti-Christian rants?

It's too bad that Cho didn't go on his rampage at the FoxNews Propaganda Headquarters, instead of at Virginia Tech!

Where do you go to get unbiased news? Is there such a place? Is it even possible? What is so bad about Fox that you would jokingly suggest that it would have been better for Cho to go berserk there?

Tucson Bob,

You asked: "Where do you go to get unbiased news?"

Answer, without a doubt:





FoxNews is just ideological propaganda, not news. Does CNN have any so-called "far left" equivalent to O'Reilly or Hannity or Malkin?

Fair & balanced? No spin? My ass!

So you think there is a line. That's a start for me. We can look forward now and say that "If there was an assassination in the past, there can be an assassination today." So Cho may have killed another mass murderer, who would have killed 33 people. If so, then this rampage is worthwhile?

What really interests me is the idea that there is a value attached to the lives that can be multiplied: by factors of age, geography, volume, race, etc.

I don't understand how that valuation is made, and it looks like you may be able to help explain.

Todd: Wolf Blitzer

Tao: Thanks, I'll check 'em out.

No matter how good/bad intentioned the news agency or the listener, the mind reports and interprets news according to the colorations of its own conditioning. Events and especially words are tricky. An example would be Helen's take on my use of the word 'probably' in one of my comments above in this thread. No fault of hers, she just heard what I said in the light of her own mindset. But in just this way, conflicts and even wars are started just on the basis of misunderstood nuance.

No wonder politicians say nothing substantive. They run the risk of a ruined career or campaign based on one misunderstanding, e.g. Kerry screws up a bad joke...good bye. Imus attempts to make ironic use of a distasteful phrase...see ya. Dan Quayle misspells potato...bye bye. Howard Dean gets a little excited...adios muchacho. I'm sure all of you can think of even better examples.

Well said to all who pointed out the idiocy in blaming Islam. No one in this country will blame Christianity for anything except, perhaps, Richard Dawkins. But he's British. (Oh, and maybe Sam Harris)

christians and muslims are two of a kind.... both want to convert the whole world, and both hate and wish to destroy others who refuse to convert and go along with their religious agenda. both muslims and christians are self-righteous pigs. thinkof all the troube and death they have caused over the centuries. the world would be a much better place without any of them.

I really don't understand much of your reasoning in either of your two posts;unless your a paranoid schizophrenic or my comprehension is the problem I would suggest trying to be more lucid.

Many years ago, living in NY, I cancelled the delivery of the daily paper because the first twenty pages had one story more horrible than the next: murder, war, rape, etc. The usual litany. I found something out about myself: I am not able to bring more compassion to more suffering. There really is no algebra for this - my participation with the world is complete.

People kill each other, for religious reasons or through chemical imbalance. I do understand that, but I cannot embrace it simply because it is so. I am with Mortimer Adler on this: applying different moral measurements to different situations just breaks down to sloppy thinking. (Which is different than applying analysis to pathology.)

But your remark reminds me that there are people who have a scale of valuation for suffering. Which is not relativism, but gradation. That's foriegn to me, and I am open to discussing it.

I like the statement, "my participation with the world is complete."

I'm guessing that statement reveals a beginning understanding of a reality of the Greater Reality.

Evil actions and evil people are a small part of the reality of the Greater Reality.

Well...as a reference to Edward...
"Evil actions and evil people are a small part of the reality of the Greater Reality."

I don't think that there is actually good or evil. It is a matter of knowledge or ignorance. Mankind will be stuck where we are at right now.....with the violence....hatred...comparing...warring....religious dogmas...fanaticism...etc..., until we learn to stand on our own two feet. The problem in my opinion is that some people look to religion or the belief of a superior being(whatever their tastes)as a guide or as an ideal with wich to compare their present world view to what they would like the world to be. Any actions taken towards this with that religious or self-righteous world view is bound to fail and hurt people. Actually....it often kills people. We have to stop looking for answers 'out there' and realize that it's up to us to make a difference. Mankind needs to grow up and take some responsibility for not only it's actions, but self worth.

Marcelo, I agree right up to the blame part.

The judgeements move from the religious, "I am bad," to the strictly moral, "I am wrong," and then to the graduated-conscious formulation that says, "I am ignorant."

In all cases, there is something wrong with me, and I have to take responsibility. In the participatory "mankind" that you indicate, no one of us knows the correct responsibility.

Such a formulation indicates lack, and this is the world: there is no lack.

*Before enlightenment: stop the madman
After enlightenment: stop the madman*

Bob, I wasn't saying the madman shouldn't be stopped: we are disagreeing on the HOW of stopping him.

You would shoot him: I would ban weapons. An ounce of prevention is, after all, worth a pound of cure.

You will have to ban not only guns, but also swords, fighting knives, machetes, baseball bats, sledgehammers, carbon monoxide, crowbars, kitchen knives, drugs, nail guns, poisons, flamable liquids, pipes, dynamite, chemicals, rocks, sticks, cars, hands, fists, elbows and knees. You might as well ban insanity while you're at it.

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