Tom Junod, in a post for The Politics Blog at Esquire magazine, reveals the national perspective that has been gleaned from the Sandy Hook shooting:
In the days following the massacre in Newtown, CT, there was a genuine sense of moral panic in the United States — the sense that we had lost the ability to protect our children from evil. At the same time, there were stirrings of a moral confidence verging on triumphalism, a sense that the relativism said to beset modern America might at last give way to clarity. At Sandy Hook Elementary, evil had done us the favor of staring us in the face. We could no longer deny either its existence or its nature. We could resist it only by embracing the idea of it. We could even define it without provoking the usual partisan disagreements:
What is evil? Evil is what murders children.
I mean for the sentiment of this quote to stand on its own. I won’t make the argument here, but you might be able to tell what corollary extrapolation Junod is heading toward, and it’s a tough case to make – or not.
Either way, this feels a lot like the favor evil did us on September 11th, 2001, a day on which it also stared us in the face, before disintegrating through our fingers like so much dry sand and dispersing across the globe… The doctrines of domestic policy that are proceeding from the Sandy Hook shooting seem as likewise ill-advised as the doctrines of foreign policy that proceeded from 9/11, and may be just as poorly supported.
From The Week‘s Matt K. Lewis, in an informative column regarding the gun control debate. On the problem with reactive gun control legislation:
Liberals who think [gun control] would prevent the next Sandy Hook are likely kidding themselves, and conservatives who fear it will dramatically curtail their rights — at least in the short term — are being overwrought.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand why there’s a revived national debate taking place. When there is a serious problem, the natural tendency is to do something — anything! — to fix it. We like action.
The problem is that for most people, the efficacy of the action is of little importance, so long as one cares enough to take some action. Even if the action has unintended negative consequences, stasis is rarely rewarded.
We may have a legislative system designed for gridlock, but our human urge is for decisive action. The notion that we should tolerate the horrible atrocities committed in Connecticut seems unconscionable. Whether true or not, we convince ourselves that we have some control over the future. And in this case, since the person who deserves the blame is dead, we must now assign new blame.
The ante has been upped on Godwin’s Law, to a current – and disturbing – level.
For those of you who don’t know, Godwin’s Law was first proposed by Mike Godwin in 1990, and states, “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.” The longer a discussion goes on, the more likely it is that someone will compare something to Hitler or the Nazis, in order to cast whatever the person doesn’t like in an evil light. Godwin’s law is a corollary to and modification of the term Reductio ad Hitlerum, coined by Leo Strauss in 1951. Latin for “reduction to” and quasi-Latin for “Hitler,” Reductio ad Hitlerum is a logical fallacy referring to the attempt to refute an opponent’s view by comparing that view to one held by Adolf Hitler. The idea being, simply by exposing a view as one held by Hitler or as being similar to his ideas, the view is automatically rendered invalid and indefensible.
This is obviously not true – though he didn’t have many, Hitler was known for a couple views that would probably be considered widely accepted in the U.S. today, such as anti-communism, but that’s not the point – and employing this fallacy avoids arguing on the merits of a particular argument, instead employing an ad hominem strategy.