People will use yesterday's massacre as another stick to beat the USA with, but I live within two hours' drive to Dunblane, so I won't be among them. There are massacres of innocent people in Europe, just as there are in the USA, and just as there have been in Canada. The common denominator is not gun laws but men who somehow think that their wish to kill innocent people is more important than anything. More important than life. More important than children's happiness.
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God."
The one good thing about yesterday is that women--teachers--put their bodies between a twenty-year killer and their under-eleven pupils. This is what adult women are supposed to do. Adult women are supposed to protect the very young and the very old. Adult men are supposed to help us and, oh yeah, protect us from men. This could mean from men like themselves. Men who shout "You're not going out dressed like that, young lady" aren't necessarily speaking solely from theoretical contemplation of other men.
I don't know why a twenty-year old boy would shoot his mother with her own guns and then drive to her school to shoot her kindergarten class* and anyone else, woman or child, who got in his way. Jealousy? A sense of entitlement? Anger over his parents' divorce? Entitlement, almost certainly.
I was born in a country with strict gun laws, and I live in a country with strict gun laws, but somehow I cannot blame the guns. (It's too late for the USA to get rid of them now anyway. It is awash with guns, and always has been, and Americans are stuck with them. You might as well try to rid Scotland of alcohol.)
I blame whatever it is that makes a boy or a man think he is justified in killing his neighbour, let alone his own mother, or a child, or several children. Where did he get that idea? Who told him? Was it advertisers constantly appealing to his ego or sex drive, or television constantly appealing to his ego or sex drive, or movies offering up dodgy models for emulation, or video games in which he is the omnipotent slayer of thousands, or music lyrics that encouraged him to feel hard done by and to take out his rage on people around him?
Was it television news showing Palestinians dragging dead Palestinians behind their motorcycles? Was it thousands upon thousands of images of human beings being brutalised in a hundred different ways?
Was it the constant stream of books and shows celebrating the glamour of evil? Vampires, for example, are not exactly hero material.
Was it the culture of easy divorce, of the importance of parents' personal lives at the expense of their children's happiness? Should divorce laws treat married people with kids the same married people without kids? Does anyone pledge to stay together "for the sake of the kids" anymore?
Was it Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins smirking from book jackets, selling thousands upon thousands of their copies of their message that only idiots fear God. There is no God, they claim. Life is short and ultimately meaningless. It doesn't matter what you do, kid, so have a good time. If you make your mark, maybe your name will live on.
Note that I don't name the killer. Please don't name him in the combox. I wish there was some way to prevent him from becoming a hero to other rebels with a cause or clue. Why, oh why, did pop culture ever make a fetish of those people?
Yesterday showed us a failure in civilization. As an aunt of three children under ten I am sickened and terrified that a privileged, educated young man could even think of killing the little children under his mother's care en masse, let alone do it. The only, only thing that keeps me from despairing is the news that women put their bodies between him and children and said "No." Unlike the survivors of their polar opposite, their survivors can hold up their heads at their funerals and say "My loved one lay down her life for another's child."
Update: The news reports have been changing the details daily. Now it seems that the Connecticut killer's mother was not the children's teacher. There are suggestions she once worked as a teacher's aid. And there are declarations that she had no direct links to the school. One lesson we can take home from this is that the media gets a lot of details wrong and when it doesn't know something, it makes it up, and hopes you will forget later.