In the Name of Tragedy

By now, most of us are aware of the tragedy that went down at a club in Orlando this past weekend.  I will not rehash the details and I will leave the responsibility of knowing the background to the reader.  I am not particularly interested with the tragedy itself – bad things happen to people all the time and one would go insane to give any tragedy more than a modicum of emotion or thought – but I am extremely interested with the response that people have.  It interests me to see that people are getting more emotional and invested for people they’ve never known than those that are close to proximity in life.  It also interests me to see the emotional responses that drive politics and how two different groups of people can have the same emotions but come up with wildly different knee-jerk solutions.  As I’ve said all along, we need to leave our emotions at home when it comes to determining how we are going to live our lives and how we are going to enact policies that effect the lives of others.  People are irrational during times of tragedy, but the damage they can cause may be irrevocable.

People are shedding more tears and extending more love to people that they’ve never known rather than extending the same magnitude of emotion and care toward those with greater proximity.  This baffles me.  Why would one waste emotion, compassion, and care on those that will never know their name?  Why would you disrespect those in your own life by demonstrating that others have immensely more value?  It does not make sense.  The empathic and emotional mind is a diseased one on this front.  Rather than acting in the name of kinship, they act in the name of tragedy.

What is equally baffling is that depending on which side of the political spectrum you lie, the emotional response dictates a different reaction when it comes to policy.  An emotional left is calling for further restriction of legal gun use.  The emotional right is calling for the heads of all of those that shared the murderer’s demographic.  Neither of these stances are particularly rooted in logic, but the emotional mind writhes until something relieves the pressure, and in this case, it is subjugation that answers the call.  That’s right, people are using their emotional feeling state to justify the restriction of the rights of others.  In this sense it is very interesting to see how empathy, group dynamics, and latent antisocial proclivities are intertwined.  I cannot believe in the goodness of man when he commits atrocity as a response to tragedy.

Man is a complex and contradictory creature.  He claims to act morally and ethically, but then when his emotions flare, he reveals his true nature.  He subconsciously wants to appear more emotional than thou in order to jockey for his own status.  He places his energy in the hands of strangers rather than his own chosen kin.  And, all of this is deemed acceptable by a neurotypical mass.  It will be very interesting to see what arrives in the coming days and months; I’m certain that great injustices will be committed, all in the name of tragedy.

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  1. FNP says

    My entire tumblr blog over the last 2 days or so is proof that people who claim to be moral authorities, are in fact less moral than your average psychopath…

  2. Andrew says

    I can’t say much about the politics part of it because people in politics often care more about power than the things they purport to care about. However, I can try to answer your query about why people (neurotypical people anyway) invest emotions in those with whom we are not in close proximity. This is due to the interconnectedness we feel with the rest of the human race (and most other life as well). We know how we would feel if those we are close to were killed or injured and, due to our interconnectedness, it matters to us that others are feeling this way so we extend that empathy or sympathy to those so affected. For most neurotypicals, distance has no bearing on that interconnectedness. Many times people who have gone through such tradgedy say how much the kindness and support of strangers means to them – just to know that others care – and this is especially important to us after something like this as it reaffirms our faith in humanity. We like to know that, although there will always be those we can’t count on and who don’t care, there are many more that we can count on and who do care. This is just part of being pro-social. We help each other and care about each other. When people only care about their own, the world becomes a selfish, cold, and uncaring place – one not suitable or acceptable for most neurotypicals.

    • FNP says

      Pro-social people have this tendency to take an event such as this and use it as proof of why both groups involved are evil.

      • Andrew says

        I try not to call anyone evil. I really do try to understand and is why I’m interacting on this blog.

  3. beneficii says

    Very few people are killed in mass shootings each year compared to the vast number of people killed by other means. Radically changing the law to account for these would unbalance our justice system.

    • Andrew says

      Just got this email and can find no link to it online so I’m including it here:

      The White House, Washington

      Today, Vice President Joe Biden sent this message to people who, in the wake of the tragic attack in Orlando, signed a We the People petition calling on the government to ban AR-15-type assault weapons from civilian ownership. As he says below, “The President and I agree with you. Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines should be banned from civilian ownership.”

      If you agree, sign up to join the conversation on the assault weapons ban.

      Over the past few years, we’ve watched as new horrific shootings have replaced previous ones as the deadliest in our nation’s history.

      We’ve waged campaign after campaign to turn our grief into action — each time thinking maybe, just maybe, this will be the one that breaks through. This will be the one that gets through to Congress, which must ultimately act. We’ve used phrases like Now is the Time. Stop Gun Violence. Enough is Enough.

      Folks, enough has been enough for a long time.

      You know that. On Monday, in the wake of this latest, deadliest, mass shooting, you started this petition. You worked together, calling on your government to ban AR-15-type weapons from civilian ownership. In the days following, we have seen members of the United States Senate take and hold the floor, refusing to back down, refusing to concede that we might need to wait for an even bigger national tragedy to finally make some changes.

      To the creator and signers of this petition, I want to say this as plainly and clearly as possible: The President and I agree with you. Assault weapons and high-capacity magazines should be banned from civilian ownership.

      When a lone gunman walked into a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, he carried a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 — a variation of the AR-15 rifle — modified to hold as many as 100 bullets. He used it to kill 12 people and injure 70.

      And when a lone gunman walked into a classroom at Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon, he carried a version of the AR-15. He used it — and several handguns — to kill 10 of his fellow students and injure nine.

      And when a lone gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, he carried a Bushmaster XM 15 — another version of the AR-15 — and multiple high-capacity magazines. He used it to kill 20 innocent children and six educators with 154 bullets in five minutes.

      A single person killed that many people in just a few minutes. Not in a war zone. Here in America — in a classroom.

      These weapons have been used to commit horrific acts. They’ve been called “the perfect killing machines.” They fire bullets at incredible speed that rip through bodies and cause devastating carnage, and can accommodate high-capacity magazines that allow them to effectively shoot up to 45 rounds per minute. We’ve seen their tragic results play out in our death tolls and in the thousands left wounded, struggling to recover.

      As we learned this week from the family of the gun’s inventor, he himself did not intend that this gun be used by civilians, only by our soldiers in combat — giving them an advantage over the AK-47. He didn’t own one himself. Here is what his family said:

      “We think he would have been horrified and sickened as anyone, if not more, by these events.”

      Right now, these weapons are on the shelves in gun shops around the country, completely legal for civilians to purchase. They can be purchased in a matter of mere minutes. That should not be so.

      Here’s a start: We should renew the assault weapons ban that Congress passed in 1994 — but which expired ten years later. That ban, which covered 19 specific assault-style weapons, was included in a comprehensive crime bill that folded together three pieces of legislation. I remember it well. I was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee at the time. I wrote much of the bill and led it through Congress — with the help of many others, especially Senator Feinstein on the assault weapons ban. I argued strongly in favor of banning these weapons. What’s more, 46 House Republicans voted for that ban in 1994. Forty-six.

      So what happened to that bill? To use a somewhat wonkish legislative term, it was “sunsetted.” That means that this bill came with an expiration date: Ten years after its passage, it would need to be renewed. Under President Bush and a Republican Congress, the bill lapsed. And it hasn’t been renewed since.

      But renewing the ban on assault weapons isn’t the only thing Congress should do to help prevent the tragedy of gun violence around the country.

      It could require that every buyer go through a background check before getting a gun — to make sure dangerous weapons don’t end up in the hands of criminals or other people who have long been prohibited from possessing them. It could prevent people who are suspected of having terrorist ties and can’t get on a plane from buying weapons of war — that’s just common sense. It could ensure that domestic abusers can’t go to the store to buy a gun — filling the kinds of gaps in the law that leave too many innocent victims dead. It could end the freeze on gun violence research, so our public health experts can collect data and facts that would inform strategies to deal with this epidemic. And it could give law enforcement officials the tools and resources the President requested in his budget proposal — so they can take dangerous criminals off the street and enforce our gun laws. Our Administration has done what it can. So have many cities, counties, and states.

      Now it’s up to Congress to do its job.

      They’ll have a good opportunity this Monday, when the Senate is set to vote on a number of different gun safety measures — votes that came about after that 15-hour filibuster, during which a series of Democratic senators refused to cede the floor. The measures they will vote on would address the fact that anyone on a terrorist watch list can still legally purchase guns and explosives. They will address the current background check requirements for prospective gun buyers.

      Ahead of those votes, we’d like to invite you to join a call on Monday at 1:00 pm ET for We the People signers with Valerie Jarrett on how we can continue to come together as citizens around this issue. Let us know you’ll be joining right here — and ask any questions you’ve got, or issues you’d like to hear raised on the call.

      I encourage you to pay attention to Monday’s votes. Make yourselves aware. Use your voice. Make yourselves impossible to ignore.

      Because you’re not alone in recognizing the need to act — to take steps, consistent with the Second Amendment — that will keep our children and communities safe. Here’s who else agrees with you: The Department of Justice. Dozens of United States Senators. Faith leaders, law enforcement officials, and responsible businesses. Public health experts. And the vast majority of the American people, including the vast majority of gun owners in the country.

      If taking commonsense steps to reduce gun violence had the potential to save even one life, it would be worth doing. But it has the potential to save far more than that.

      You know that. And that is why you spoke up. That matters. But the fact is that we have three separate but equal branches of a government for a reason.

      And so, to speak directly to those members of Congress who, in the wake of this most recent, most horrific killing of our citizens, might be considering stepping up and getting this done once and for all, I’d like to remind you that this will not stop on its own. It will not stop. In the three and a half years since Newtown, there have been at least 1,002 mass shootings in this country. At least 1,135 people killed, and 3,953 wounded. That includes 49 killed and 53 wounded in Orlando.

      You know in your heart that this is the right thing to do. You know that by stepping up, your action has the potential to create a domino effect. Have the courage to do it.

      We have done it before. We can do it again.

      Finish this.

      Vice President Joseph Biden
      The White House

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      Please do not reply to this email. Contact the White House

      The White House • 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Washington, DC 20500 • 202-456-1111

      • Andrew says

        P.S. In case it looks like there was no way to reply, the lines asking for a reply were blue in the original and could be tapped on.

  4. Sam says

    As a psychopath who lives ten minutes from Orlando and visits on a near-daily basis, I’d like to add that the reaction here was more confusing than it was helpful to anyone. For at least two weeks following the incident, everyone to whom I spoke insisted on trying to insert themselves into the situation. They would brag about knowing someone who knows someone who was in the nightclub or works at the hospital, or pretend that their general proximity to the nightclub that day was of some import. Clearly, they were trying to elicit some empathetic response; be it pity or concern or shock was irrelevant. They wanted to be involved. That’s why so many went to donate blood that day and so many more stood at the edge of the police tape trying to get as close as they could. Those same people turn around and say that they wish things like the that never happened. That baffles me. Why would you want to be part of something you don’t want to exist?

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