I know I’ve been out of the loop for a while, but I also know you all don’t mind since you’re all certainly busy reading Ice and Fire, which has been out for the better part of the month. Anyhow, David has sent along a short but timely and poignant piece which is worth pausing your current novel for. There are sure to be some interesting opinions and reactions to this one, so make your voice heard in the comments.
Full text after the break.
Meanwhile In Some Parallel Universe…
Imagine this. On the same day – Friday 14th December 2012 – two deeply sick young men, one armed with an assault rifle, the other with a kitchen knife, each launch a homicidal attack on a group of frightened and unprotected children, most of them aged six or seven, the two attacks happening on either side of the globe, the two attacks being on an unprecedented scale, with their victims being numbered in the twenties.
No need to imagine. Because that is precisely what happened last Friday. While the Western media were tightly focused on Sandy Hook school in Connecticut, and the awful events there, the Chinese and Asian media were looking to Guangshan in Henan province where, believe it or not, a maniac, in his thirties, had attacked an elementary school and badly injured 23 children, aged between 6 and 12, severing ears and fingers, and slashing eyes, driven, it would seem, by the same kind of Doomsday fears that (partly) lay behind Adam Lanza’s actions in America.
Sina Weibo – China’s micro-blogging equivalent of our Facebook – has been filled with items about the significance of this incident, most commenting on the contrast between what happened in the USA and what happened in China. In the US, they point out, the reaction was immediate and went to the highest level of government, the president, and might eventually involve changes in the law. In China, by contrast, it took officials a full three days to respond to the incident, a fact which – now that it’s out in the open – horrifies most middle class Chinese. When pushed, Chinese officials have stated that “it was meaningless to discuss it”, though CCTV – China’s overseas media arm – has been doing a good job of reporting it the last day or two.
Aside from the differing responses to these two tragedies, one massively significant fact leaps out at you from this weird paralleling of events.
The problem is GUNS.
There are always going to be nutters, like Min Yongjun, the epileptic who may or may not have mental problems (I’d guess he has) and whose attack on the Guangshan school must have been – imagine it! – terrifying. But the fact is that in the Chinese school attack there were NO fatalities. Twenty three children had to be dealt with, sure, and some are in hospital in a pretty bad way, but there weren’t twenty seven deaths as there were in Newtown, and there aren’t twenty three grieving parents in China because their nutter didn’t have access to major military hardware.
China doesn’t allow its citizens to have guns. America does. And the result? Twenty seven deaths in the USA, and none in China. Same event, two outcomes. And I tell you, you really couldn’t have it displayed more clearly if you set this up as a laboratory experiment.
Life doesn’t often organise itself to give us such lessons, so this time we ought to be listening and doing something about it. When I hear young American men on the media – one was seventeen years old – talking about “the great benefits of having a gun”, I wonder what parallel universe I’ve lived my life in, because I’ve sure as hell not missed having a gun these last fifty eight years.
So there we are. Look it up on the internet if you think I’m making this shit up. It’s happened. So let’s learn from it this once, eh?
David Tuesday 18th December 2012