There is a tiny tiny number, in absolute terms, let alone in percentage terms of human beings who express admiration for Ian Brady’s “work”. There have been some, at least one. Some people will explain his behaviour in terms of neuroscience. Some will say that it is simply diabolical. Both groups weep in each others’ arms at what he and Myra Hindley did (likewise Fred and Rosemary West). As a race, we are appalled and disgusted. As a race, we pity the victims and condemn the perpetrators. We regard IB and MH as less than human. My guess is that a majority of humans would accept that these deeds were so wicked that the criminals should be exterminated with as little compunction as we would express over the eradication of smallpox. The Christian position is a little more complex. IB and MH were made in the image of God – and God loves His creation. I, and many other Christians, don’t believe that this means that we should allow these monsters to go on living.
Then we get Newtown, Connecticut; and we are faced with evil behaviour on a par with the Norwegian monster, almost with IB (though it is not just the numbers which count). This is evil so manifest that it surprises me that it doesn’t convert more to theism – not my point here.
Needless to say, what happened in Connecticut has unleashed a torrent of anti-Americanism, of sneering contempt for the NRA and the Second Amendment.
Is American culture to blame for what happened? It’s difficult to say so when 999,999.99 Americans in every million are as revolted as you and I. This kind of thing happens more in America than it does elsewhere – OK. Who would have thought it would happen in Norway? Norwegians don’t get beaten up for what that madman did. Norwegian culture is not to blame.
Social pathology exists around the world. I hope that I have succeeded in showing that what happened in Newtown is that individual wickedness (pathology, if you like) is not confined to any race or culture.
Where it is manifest is not in Norway or the USA. It is to be found in societies where the monsters have defenders in the wider society – not Norway and the USA. A Pakistani who throws acid in the face of a girl who rejects his advances will have defenders. A Pakistani father who stuffs a plastic bag into his daughter’s mouth will have defenders. A Somali grandmother who holds a little girl down while she is mutilated will have defenders. Ian Brady has no defenders. Adam Lanza has no defenders. A “Palestinian” suicide bomber will be glorified.
You know that I do not regard modern European culture as the ideal paradigm. I am as critical of it as the most fervent Muslim. There is, nevertheless, a residue of European decency that has not yet been lost.
There are intelligent people on both sides of the “gun lobby” debate. Obama is not one of them. He has surrendered his moral intelligence over fiscal and social issues over and over again. But he will make political capital over Newtown. His political intelligence is still pretty bloody lively. He will use this ghastly event to smear Republicans.
Americans have, traditionally, applied the principle of subsidiarity to domestic affairs – if it is a local issue, we should deal with it locally. Many communities will, in the near future, demand that at least one member of staff in every school is armed and trained. Use the moral sense you take with you to every 007 movie you see. Adam Lanza probably wanted to die. Don’t you wish he had been taken out as he un-holstered his weapon, before he shot his second victim?