As I Please

Monday, April 16, 2007

An American Tragedy

Today there occurred on the campus of Virginia Tech University the worst civilian shooting in U.S. history. Thirty-three people including the gunman (it is believed that he shot himself) were killed, fifteen were wounded (as usual we are not told how badly). What was his motivation? This puts me in mind of a finding by the naturalist and co-theorist of natural selection Alfred Russel Wallace, who among his other accomplishments was a noted explorer of the Malay Archipelago. He informed his readers about the customary way of committing suicide among the natives of the Celebes in Macassar: "The fashionable way of escaping from their difficulties" was to take their 'kris', a wavy bladed dagger, and kill person after person until they were finally killed themselves.
Imagine if they had guns, and you have a custom that appears to be well in evidence in American society.


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