Sunday, April 22, 2007

Mark Steyn on the Virginia Tech Shootings

Steyn's piece, "Let's Be Realistic About Reality" is brilliant, as usual.

I think we have a problem in our culture not with "realistic weapons" but with being realistic about reality. After all, we already "fear guns," at least in the hands of NRA members. Otherwise, why would we ban them from so many areas of life? Virginia Tech, remember, was a "gun-free zone," formally and proudly designated as such by the college administration. Yet the killer kept his guns and ammo on the campus. It was a "gun-free zone" except for those belonging to the guy who wanted to kill everybody. Had the Second Amendment not been in effect repealed by VT, someone might have been able to do as two students did five years ago at the Appalachian Law School: When a would-be mass murderer showed up, they rushed for their vehicles, grabbed their guns and pinned him down until the cops arrived.

But you can't do that at Virginia Tech. Instead, the administration has created a "Gun-Free School Zone." Or, to be more accurate, they've created a sign that says "Gun-Free School Zone." And, like a loopy medieval sultan, they thought that simply declaring it to be so would make it so. The "gun-free zone" turned out to be a fraud -- not just because there were at least two guns on the campus last Monday, but in the more important sense that the college was promoting to its students a profoundly deluded view of the world.

I live in northern New England, which has a very low crime rate, in part because it has a high rate of gun ownership. We do have the occasional murder, however. A few years back, a couple of alienated loser teens from a small Vermont town decided they were going to kill somebody, steal his ATM cards, and go to Australia. So they went to a remote house in the woods a couple of towns away, knocked on the door, and said their car had broken down. The guy thought their story smelled funny so he picked up his Glock and told 'em to get lost. So they concocted a better story, and pretended to be students doing an environmental survey. Unfortunately, the next old coot in the woods was sick of environmentalists and chased 'em away. Eventually they figured they could spend months knocking on doors in rural Vermont and New Hampshire and seeing nothing for their pains but cranky guys in plaid leveling both barrels through the screen door. So even these idiots worked it out: Where's the nearest place around here where you're most likely to encounter gullible defenseless types who have foresworn all means of resistance? Answer: Dartmouth College. So they drove over the Connecticut River, rang the doorbell, and brutally murdered a couple of well-meaning liberal professors. Two depraved misfits of crushing stupidity (to judge from their diaries) had nevertheless identified precisely the easiest murder victims in the twin-state area. To promote vulnerability as a moral virtue is not merely foolish. Like the new Yale props department policy, it signals to everyone that you're not in the real world.

Note that the name of this blog is the Post-Postmodernist. Back when I was a postmodernist, I found it annoying to even have to explain to the unenlightened how "truth," "facts," and "reality" were delusional constructs, shared hallucinations and fictions we all make linguistic pacts with each other (and within ourselves) to believe in. And so on. And then those planes flew into those buildings, and it made me re-evaluate things a bit, to say the least.

My sensei from PoMo indoctrination camp was incredulous when I explained that I had decided to "take a leap of faith and start believing in reality again." A three-year email argument ensued, with our friendship ending eventually, yet another 9/11 casualty.

I used to think he was the smartest man I had ever met, but suddenly he seemed the most foolish. Steyn's point above -- and you really should read the whole thing -- is that academia does not live in "the real world." Of course they don't. And know for sure that they will still be smirking at you for believing in such a thing... even as buildings and students fall around them.


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