the insane

We treat these people who go on shooting rampages as completely insane, as though they are impossible to see in “good society”, but we do not make the comparison to soldiers who are required to do a similar thing; to believe without doubt that their mission is “right” as they enter a room, a battlefield, a building, a fortress, filled with people. I don’t think it would come as a surprise to anyone to say that innocent people get killed all the time during war. Somehow, we justify these losses as necessary in the greater effort. But would any one of us “good people” enter a theatre and kill everyone, or an island and kill everyone on the island, even if we believed that by killing everyone we would kill the one person that “deserved to die”? No, we “good people” would not do this, the reason being that killing so-called innocent people is insane and inhumane. Yet we train our soldiers to make these choices about risk assessment and statistics. We train them to justify this killing by the terms of war, we train them to believe in their mission above all else and to dehumanize those who might die inadvertently. They do not view those innocents as they would the people in their very own neighborhood theatre where, with a similar mission, a similarly singular and justified vision, someone else could potentially open fire. What are the differences in these states of “insanity”? Going on a shooting rampage is unjust and terrible and disgusting, but are they really far more “insane” than any other who is required to kill? By attempting to quarantine his state of insanity as separate from “ours” we would like to believe that access to guns is about “who” has access to guns rather than the ease of access to guns we have in the first place. We attempt to show that some gun owners have good intentions and others do not, that some are “insane” and others are “sane” as though there is one clear drawing line. They say: what does it matter if guns are available? This guy would have found means anyway to do what he did because he is that insane. But look at the kind of insanity we expect of our soldiers, who are deemed the most upright, the most heroic, the most upstanding citizens of us all. If they were not trained into insanity they would not be killing themselves afterwards in droves, they would not be suffering such extensive stress and depression. They would believe themselves to be heroic, to be right, to be good and the lines would be clear. But the lines are not clear.


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