Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nuanced living

Nuance Definition from The Free Dictionary:
1. A subtle or slight degree of difference, as in meaning, feeling, or tone; a gradation.
2. Expression or appreciation of subtle shades of meaning, feeling, or tone
One of the problems I have with extremists from the right or the left is they don't get nuances. In fact, nuances are what they call wishy-washy. To me nuances are what define reality and rarely are things all one or the other.

Reactions to the shooting in Tucson are a perfect example of how nuances help and the lack of them lead to unhelpful responses. A lot of people simply seem unable to even understand what a nuance is if they don't see it as plain out evil.

Here's an example-- gun control. It is one of those things that needs a nuanced approach more than anything else. It needs effective thinking followed by action and the fact that none of the nuanced approaches have been enacted shows how little most Americans must like the concept of a nuance.

IF we had an effective gun policy in this country, the Arizona shooter would not have been able to buy the gun he used. The United States does not allow someone who is deemed mentally ill to purchase a gun. The problem is how does the gun seller know the person is mentally ill? My bet is a little talking to this guy would have told any clerk that he wasn't right. Forcing gun buyers to answer certain questions would help a trained gun seller to recognize those we, as a culture, don't want to have guns.

Having a computer system that was functional would do the same thing. Sometimes that is not the case but in his case, there was a trail [community college demanding he be mentally evaluated before returning to class and rejection by the military based obviously on something they saw when he applied] that, if it had gone into as effective a computerized system as say Amazon has, would have prevented his purchase.

States that allow users to purchase what amount to gang warfare armaments aren't helping the ordinary citizen. They are helping arms dealers and not being able to see that from the right is a blind spot. Mostly a blind spot of not being able to see nuances. They have this fear of the slippery slope that if they ban one single type of weapon, they will lose the right to any of them.

This killer didn't have an ability to use logic. I read where his philosophy professor said he couldn't line up two facts to come to a conclusion. That was part of his mental deterioration. Should it be part of our national mental confusion?

Guns kill. Take away all guns. No more killings.

That's logic for some.

While guns do kill, you can't take away all guns. That's just a fact. You can take away them all from people who obey laws. This person wasn't one of those. In this particular setting, someone like him could have come armed with a machete and knife and for sure killed the Congresswoman as well as those standing nearest to her. There'd have been less mayhem but not necessarily less death. He could have come with a bomb strapped to his body and the same result.

That doesn't mean that gun regulation is bad which is the kind of mixed logic you get from the right. They defend the right to buy a sub-machine gun out of a fear that if they can't buy every type of weapon out there, including tanks, they won't be able to buy any. I guess they also see us as a society unable to see and guide our choices by nuanced living.

To many people in this culture, you have to be one thing or the other. Wisdom can never come from the right... or vice versa from the left. Well I read the following that Joe Scarborough had said and I think it's quite wise.

"Timothy McVeigh didn’t come to his conclusions about government in a vacuum.” While the case of Arizona gunman Jared Loughner is very different, he says, “we warned for three years that those who are most affected by the harsh language are people who are detached from reality and can hear the ranting on cable or in parts of the blogosphere.”

We, as as culture, set an atmosphere for thoughtful living or one that demands extremes and can only live by them. No, someone like Sarah Palin didn't lead directly to this shooting, but she is part of a poisoned atmosphere that might well have. She sure wasn't part of the solution.

From all I have read, this young man and his family began to isolate themselves from others probably about the time his mental illness was becoming apparent. Their main sources of information may well have been coming from Internet, television and radio.

When you hear day after day that the government is evil, it doesn't take much to get some minds to take it a step beyond words. I think this particular shooter was not only mentally ill but had obsessed himself on one woman. But in a different atmosphere would he have turned violent? The threats that came before the shooting.

You know it isn't all about what this killer did but what a lot were threatening to do. That's healthy? How many of those who are so enraged have gotten their fuel from the talk radio hate that is spewed day after day? Or the politicians who cater to them?

Back to the issue of guns, I liked the honesty of one of the ones at the shooting, the one who had a gun, and was willing to admit-- I nearly shot the wrong man.

He didn't have to admit that. He showed good judgment and nobody would have known his thought processes in the midst of all of the chaos. What he said was what anybody knows is possible and that means even with trained police officers. When guns are involved, it's chaos and split seconds are involved. Arming everybody will NOT solve the problem of killers with weapons. Nuanced living won't either, but it's a start.


Kay Dennison said...

I think you have addressed what is really important and really needed today!!!

This is one of your finest posts ever! I applaud you!!!!

Anonymous said...

waiting for next post

Darlene said...

You make very good points, but I am afraid that having a sales person identify a mentally ill person would be beyond their expertise and answering a few questions by the purchaser would not help unless the person was so obviously deranged anyone could spot it.

If Loughren had been treated for mental illness and the laws had allowed the information to be made public it might have prevented him from buying the clip (It did in one store) and the gun.

The right to privacy now keeps doctors from giving out this information, so there can be no data base on the mentally ill.

It's a balancing act between privacy and safety of the citizens.

I wrote on my blog that there is no use for automatic weapons in the hands of anyone unless they are in law enforcement or the military. Banning the sale of those guns and destroying them if they are used would help solve the carnage we see far to often in our society.

I understand the need for guns for hunting but fail to see why the NRA fights to keep every type of weapon legal.

My son has guns and is an avid hunter. We had guns in the house when I grew up so I am not anti-gun, but I am anti-automatic and semi-automatic weapons. They can kill too many too fast.

It's unrealistic to think we can stop all murders. Yes, someone can kill with a knife, but that takes being next to the victim and the chance of a bystander stopping the killer would be better. A machete might claim more victims, but the killer could be apprehended quicker and there would be fewer victims. Besides, a machete would be impossible to hide. Of course, a bomb strapped to a suicide bomber would be the ultimate killing weapon, but I doubt that even the mentally ill would use that. It takes expertise to make such a weapon and a deranged person would find buying and assembling such a weapon difficult.

As long as we are a violent society about all we can do is try to have fewer victims and less carnage. There are far too many guns out there when there have been 150,000 murders with guns in the past ten years.

Rain said...

Well according to what I just posted (after this one) Arizona has such a law that people could have turned him in as a suspected person with a mental disorder where he would be evaluated-- Involuntary incarceration for a period of time. People should have done so as you would be surprised how easy it is to hide a machete and how effective they are as killing machines in the hands of a young man. The shock and horror always takes people awhile to react but the answer for someone like him is to get him off the street and it sounds like Arizona had the tools but it wasn't done.

Naturally I support gun rights and if the left tries to go after too many weapons, they will lose it all. We have one automatic handgun in our home-- a 9mm but I don't like it and trust the six-shooter type better. I certainly don't want that kind of gun banned. I don't see the point of assault rifles except in gang warfare.

I think try being more effective in how we handle mental illness and it would be quite possible for gun stores to have a procedure to spend long enough talking to someone or asking them questions to get a perspective on how sane they were. Admittedly some insane people can hide it but doesn't sound like this one was able. That and a very good computer system with all reports of mental outbreaks which there were with this guy as he went increasingly into probably schizophrenia. I read today that only like 1% of those with schizophrenia become violent but they account for most of the extremely violent mass shootings like this one

Kay said...

Kay Dennison sent me to you and I'm glad she did. This is a wonderful post and I agree with you 100%. Hawaii does have a more restrictive gun law, but I'd like for it to be even stronger. I lived in Illinois for 35 years and the gun law there is what it should be for the rest of the country.

Dick Klade said...

A wonderfully thoughtful post on a complex topic. And you didn't need to launch a personal attack on anyone to make your points! It would be great if the extremists among us would read your thoughts; unfortunately, most won't

Keep spreading the message, though. If enough rational folks do that, we may yet see progress.

Robert the Skeptic said...

You make several valid points. First, that we as a society are woefully out of touch with nuance; we demand simple answers. This is blatantly apparent when we evaluate our political candidates and ballot measures from sound bites on TV… where most of the electorate obtain their information. Vote for me and I will create jobs. Yah, but exactly how? The Republicans rode into majority of the House on their pledge to reduce government and reduce the deficit; their goal was to cut $100 billion from the budget. They haven’t been in office two weeks and now they are facing the reality that it may be $50 billion or less. Guess what… those government programs have people dependent on them!

Your comments about gun control, to some extent I agree. But had the method of assault been a car driven into the crowd or, as you say, a bomb. The guns are but a tool, the “motivation” to be violent seems inherent in our culture. Oddly during this discussion I have not seen one reference to Michael Moore’s film, “Bowling for Columbine”. The take-away moment from this film is that many in this country feel isolated and not part of this country or anything – the continual mantra that you must be self-reliant, nobody will help you, you must succeed on your own or suffer. Those two boys felt disaffected by our culture and felt they had nothing to lose.

Many have questioned why authorities had not acted on this Loughner’s questionable mental behavior. In one of the largest “less government” actions ever, Ronald Reagan’s administration implemented Deinstutionalization, removing the mentally ill from the “bonds” of their institutions and into the community. The rise of homeless, mostly mentally ill is the legacy we have today.

But there are little resources available for the mentally ill. One must demonstrate a clear danger to themselves, others or be incapable of caring for themselves. The bar is high and police cannot arrest a person for anything less than making a distinctly direct threat. And when they are arrested, the resources for evaluation are scant and for treatment practically non-existent. The truth is, unless Loughner’s parents would have paid for mental health services out of pocket, there is little government can do until he acts. It has to get that bad. Currently our criminal justice system is the largest treatment facility in the country… and it is frightfully under funded and inadequate.

Rain said...

Yes, that is exactly the problem. With a country full of people who see government as being unable to do anything right, who is supposed to take care of mentally ill people, pay for their treatment. Pima County had lost 1/2 its program. If we don't realize we do need government for some things, we will never get anywhere on these programs. AND when you have someone like Boehner who sees no need for any rules for handguns; so let them buy the extended magazines, because to say anything else leaves it looking like Bush did something wrong.

And listening to some elements of the right, there is no way they believe in a negative climate, that the energy in a culture can be harmful to the mentally unstable, and they aren't willing to do anything to change what's currently going on where physical threats seem to be part of some people's idea of meaningful dialogue.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know where he got the steroids...obviously he had to get those somewhere as well. Perhaps the steroids led to the gun!

Anonymous said...


What happened to your follow up article?

Check out my Health article on Medicare providers
( http://community.ashworthcollege.edu/community/fields/education/blog/2011/04/14/how-to-change-health-insurance )