Saturday, February 17, 2018

Nikolas Cruz

A few observations, in no particular order, about the Florida school massacre:

i) Guns take lives, guns save lives. News reports are slanted and one-sided because the liberal media gives the former saturation coverage while the latter is underreported. For instance:

ii) I saw a group on Facebook draw invidious comparisons between Japan and the USA. I hesitate to make international comparisons because I know less about other countries, but from what I've read, Japan has its own problems. For instance:

iii) It's instructive that when the story concerns black-on-black crime or jihadist attacks, sociologists rush in to tell us that we need to consider the "root-cause" of violence, which they blame on the "system", racism, colonialism, &c. but when it's a sniper, they blame guns. 

iv) The FBI has been blamed for dropping the ball in this case. It had at least two tips, but did nothing of consequence. However, I'm not sure what the FBI should do in cases like this. I'm not a child psychologist, but aren't many teenagers prone to emotional volatility, overreaction, exaggerated feelings? They usually outgrow it, but isn't that a common phase that many adolescent boys and girls go through? Are we going to start rounding up millions of teenagers who are exhibit wild mood swings, erratic behavior, &c.? Should they be institutionalized and medicated with psychotropic drugs?

I'd turn the question around. I think the issue isn't so much whether the FBI should intervene in cases like this, but what is the raison d'être for the FBI? Does that agency do more harm than good? Is it maker us safer, or is it a threat to civil liberties? When you trade civil liberties for security, you lose both. 

v) BTW, this is a problem with dragnet surveillance. Our so-called law enforcement agencies have too much information, not too little. When they hoover up information on Americans generally, there's an enormous amount of static to sift through. 

vi) There's a curious analogy between advocates of "sensible gun control" and the reaction of atheists to the latest natural disaster. Atheists always act as if when you have a fresh natural disaster that kills hundreds or thousands of people, this should be the tipping-point. When are you going to stop believing in God? What does it take? How much more do you need? But astute Christians already have theodicies for that. A new natural disaster doesn't change anything in that regard. It doesn't add a new kind of evidence we didn't have before. 

By the same token, Americans who support the 2nd Amendment have principled reasons for their position. That takes abuse of the 2nd Amendment into account. That's a necessary tradeoff for living in a free and open society. And that's true for civil liberties in general. Should we repeal the 1st Amendment because it's abused?

There is no tipping-point. We expect access to guns will sometimes have tragic results. But that's just one side of the story. I believe Cambodia has about 2 million piles of skulls with bullet holes in the back of the head because the Khmer Rouge disarmed the populace before committing genocide. Then there's Mao's Cultural Revolution. When the state has all the firepower, what's to deter it? 

vii) One issue is whether we should seek a general motivation for snipers, or consider the snipers individually. 

In some cases, snipers may be motivated by celebrity. They'd rather be infamous than a nobody. Likewise, it gives them a sense of power. The power of life and death. 

In some cases this may reflect backlash against feminism and the "war on boys". 

In some cases a sniper was bullied, and this is revenge. Moreover, a kid who's bullied dreads going to school, and this puts an end to that prospect. It also reverses the power dynamic by putting them in control. 

There's also a vicious cycle where unpopular kids respond to their unpopularity by becoming more morose and withdrawn, which makes them even more shunned, which aggravates their sense of alienation and resentment. 

Cruz's adoptive mother, Lynda Cruz, reportedly had trouble with his behavior in the past. She would occasionally contact the police to give him behavioral advice at their home, Helen Pasciolla, a former neighbor, told The New York Times.

"I think she wanted to scare them a little bit," Pasciolla said. "Nikolas has behavioral problems, I think, but I never thought he would be violent."

Lynda Cruz died in November, according to Fort Lauderdale's Sun Sentinel. Her husband died years earlier of a heart attack; Cruz and his brother were in the care of a family friend at the time of the shooting, people close to the family told the Associated Press.

I expect the unstable domestic situation, lack of contact with his biological parents–especially his real father–may be the source of his rage. 


  1. When the state has all the firepower, what's to deter it?

    The (American) state does have all the (meaningful) firepower, since the U.S. is a nuclear superpower. One cannot defend oneself from incoming nukes using rifles.

    But that's not why I came here... I came here to ask (someone) how on earth a man suffering from chronic psychological issues could get his hands on any kind of firearm whatsoever in the first place (let alone acquire an entire arsenal)... Your laws seem to (theoretically) prohibit this from ever taking place... I don't understand what might have caused this apparent discrepancy between theory and practice in this particular case (and sadly others as well).

  2. Somehow the death counts from tyrannical governments that disarmed their populations never get put into the gun control analysis.