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Unpopular Ideas

Ramblings and Digressions from out of left field, and beyond....

Location: Piedmont of Virginia, United States

All human history, and just about everything else as well, consists of a never-ending struggle against ignorance.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

At the Mercy of Idiots 2 -- Shooting in a Crowded Theater

In my day -- despite the instant suggestion of age I really like that expression -- in my day you were never warned about the folly of firing guns in a crowded theater. The inveighments were always against yelling "Fire!" in such places instead.

The other day yet another young guy did what has become a commonplace thing in American life, except with refinements, if you can call them that. He picked up a whole passel of guns with the most up-to-date features for killing people quickly and in quantity, and he made two trips hauling that gear into the front of a full house movie theater in a Colorado place called Aurora, and he then shot dead and otherwise injured dozens of people not only in that room but also in an adjoining theater by firing through a wall.

This man was pretty methodical about all his slaughter, as if he meant to show how easy it is to do. In fact he was so nonchalant that he didn't even kill himself afterward, as so often happens, nor did he let the police do it for him. He gave himself up peaceably, and now he can sit back and enjoy the rest of the spectacle, which involves the world at large trying to get inside his mind -- though there is obviously no mind there to speak of -- while at the same time that world also looks for ways to avoid this kind of thing in the future, though of course those ways essentially don't exist either.

Maybe Congress will take its mouth off the teats of the Big Money long enough to pass laws at least banning the banana clips, but that is not likely. Otherwise, all can really do for comfort is to fall back on the Laws of Probability, maybe with the added touch of avoiding all crowded places in the first place.

That is possible. It's possible to arrive and to function in such a state of grace even if that wasn't what one was looking for at the time.

Years ago, one of my good friends, now living in Virginia's Northern Neck, went to see a flick of his heroes, Monte Python, in one of those neighborhood movie plexes. He totally enjoyed himself through the whole showing, slapping his knee and guffawing and doing all that kind of stuff, and it wasn't till the movie was over and the lights came up that he realized, to his astonishment, that he had been the only one in there watching the thing.

With people usually being all over the place all the time, I didn't put that much credence in his story, until, just a short while later, for some reason I went to see nothing less than one of the then hugely popular Indiana Jones movies and at that same kind of moviehouse, and the same thing happened, though I was quite well aware of it all along. I was the only patron in there, and a less appreciative one, too -- because of the flick.

But I guess that there are still legions in this country who still believe in total togetherness.

And I'll tell you what other kind of foolishness they also believe.

It is reported that right after the Aurora mass shooting, sales of guns skyrocketed in Colorado, amid stories of all that could've been done to avoid the mayhem if, it was thought, a suitable fraction of the theatergoers had been suitably strapped.

That idea is so easily shot full of holes that it is more laughable than most of the other fancies of the idiots among us.

First of all, what fraction of people is going to attend a movie while carrying a firearm heavy enough to counter a guy who shows up suddenly and stands covered with kevlar in the dark down in front while firing a full-blown assault rifle complete with a "banana" clip or maybe two of those taped together, and after he has already thrown a teargas grenade or two to really set the stage for his work?

When you go to a movie, you usually go in there traveling light, while carrying nothing heavier than a tub of freshly popped and buttered popcorn. You don't like to go in there carrying even a small package or anything else, for fear that you'll forget and leave it in there. Plus you go in there strictly to engage in fantasies and not at all in the most serious kind of gunfire. And if you were to go in there two or three times while suitably armed but nothing happens, very quickly you're going to decide just to take your chances and start attending in the old, light-hearted fashion of childhood once again -- the only way to view a flick in public..

Secondly, the guy standing down there in front has going for him an implement that puts things in his favor even more than his weaponry, and anybody would know this if they played chess. That implement is the all-important one called "the Initiative." The whole thing and its timing is his idea, not yours, and he's been ready for this for weeks, while you have only a few seconds to do anything at all, using up a bunch of those seconds -- if surprise, fright, and panic let you, which is very unlikely -- first to recognize that this is finally happening, and next to recall what you had been imagining you would do, and lastly on digging out from wherever you have secreted it whatever it is that you brought along in hopeful answer and getting that ready, too -- all of it way too late.

Also suitably "equipped" moviegoers are going to sharply decrease the pleasure of the cinema experience without even trying, and you will get a phenomenon much like 9/11 and the subsequent so-called "War on Terror."

The fact is that the moment those World Trade Center buildings came tumbling down as if all along they had been constructed only from badly baked cake dough, that "war" was over. The Al-Quaidists realized that they had won far beyond their wildest dreams, and quite likely the main reason that they haven't mounted any comparable attempts ever since is that they've seen no mileage in even trying, because that act was so impossible to follow, especially after the measures that the Republican administratioons put into place to combat terrorism, which were not only much too far after the fact but also served only to coarsen American life over and above what it already had been and so they furthered the terrorists' cause.

Carrying guns inside moviehouses and similar assemblies would have the same effect, and maybe L.'s experience and my own presaged the emptying out that was likely to happen more years farther down the line.

Guns don't do anything for anybody, except to make cowards of all who would pick them up and point them at others, with or without pulling the triggers.


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