Saturday, February 14, 2015

Murder by any other name


Je suis Charlie . . . it came so readily to the fore, after some crazed gunmen assassinated cartoonists at Charlie Hebdo, and at a Jewish business in Paris. Islamic terrorists are identified as the perpetrators. 
So, now, when a crazed gunman assassinates three beautiful, young students in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, we are left with . . . oh it was a dispute over parking spaces.
Hmmm . . . really?? He assassinated three young students because he was pissed about their parking habits???
Why does that explanation ring hollow?
And he was, we are told, an anti-theist, which as I best understand it, is a militant step beyond just being an atheist.  Wiki speaks to the definition thusly, “The Oxford English Dictionary defines antitheist as "One opposed to belief in the existence of a god". The earliest citation given for this meaning dates from 1833. An antitheist may oppose belief in the existence of any god or gods, and not merely one in particular. Antitheism has been adopted as a label by those who regard theism as dangerous or destructive. Christopher Hitchens offers an example of this approach in Letters to a Young Contrarian (2001), in which he writes: "I'm not even an atheist so much as I am an antitheist; I not only maintain that all religions are versions of the same untruth, but I hold that the influence of churches, and the effect of religious belief, is positively harmful.
So, some degree of militancy is involved here.  And, as a result, the media has begun insisting that “atheists” share a role in this despicable killing.
Seems to me that atheists are not the issue here. Atheists simply avow that there is no God. They do not, as a rule, set out to purge the world violently of religious believers.  Mostly, from what I observe, atheists use ridicule and other forms of argument to set themselves apart. Guns seem rarely (never?) a means to their end.
Now, anti-theists could, I suppose, be a different kettle of fish, since they appear to hold antagonistic views, which could arguably turn violent.
But I have begun thinking of this awful killing spree as maybe one more example of what I now choose to call, “NRA-Terrorism”.  The NRA seems vaguely crazed on this issue of gun control (of which we have  nearly none). They seem terrified that someone is coming for their guns, despite all evidence to the contrary.
The shooter, in this case, seems to be a troubled person, who was heavily armed, to the point, I think, of obsession.  Perhaps, he began believing that guns were his solution of first resort to any dispute.  If he was a heavily armed person, who was actively opposed to religion of any sort, and he was being annoyed by his neighbors, some of whom were of the Islamic persuasion, how better to resolve his anger than by selecting the folks most obviously religious, because of their dress code.  That those people were non-violent, peaceful folks just trying to get an education so as to better their lives, was obviously irrelevant to this thoughtless, dangerous, angry man. Did NRA have anything to do with this killing? Well, maybe . . . maybe not . . . perhaps as much as Islam had to do with the Charlie Hebdo killings.
Just a thought.
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