Littleton massacre (2)

Greg Nowell GN842 at CNSVAX.Albany.Edu
Mon Apr 26 15:42:47 PDT 1999

I was going on too long and wanted to try a shorter way to communicate my points. Consider a drunk driver killed after his car goes off the road. Look at the possible explanations and consider them in relation to the discussion on this list (No. 9 is similar to Rakesh's analysis):

1. General Motors had recalled the vehicle and the driver, though drunk, would have been able to stop the car if the vehicle was operating. 2. The driver is a victim of the plotting of the alcohol industry which bombards everyone with its message of addiction. 3. The driver is a victim of the mind numbing alienated life of the worker in capitalism which made him want to get drunk and because he succumbed to that need he was killed. 4. Getting drunk is a normal human desire that goes back millenia. In "human scale" urban situations you can get drunk and walk home from the bar, or take a bus. Therefore the accident is one more incident imputable to the transportation system which is part of the excessive consumption engendered by society. Blame: the highway lobby, the mortage tax deduction lobby which helped build the suburbs (finance capital), and the oil and automotive industries which threw their weight behind the project. 5. In every society there are transportation accidents, some resulting in fatal deaths. We have more fatal automobile accidents because we have more cars. 6. The accident is the fault of the state, which is so busy funding its war machine that it can't spare the resources to enforce effective anti-drunk driving rules. 7. The driver was personally irresponsible and morally culpable for his own death. 8. Some human nervous systems are genetically more vulnerable to alcohol stimulus. Genetic typing after the accident showed the driver to be one of these unfortunate individuals. 9. The driver was a filthy rich suburbanite from an upper class neighborhood where the police routinely "let off" the so-called "respectable" drunk drivers freeing them to comport themselves in an irresponsible way which hurts not only them, but potentially others. Poor black drunk drivers are jailed. The whole corrupt power structure of capitalist society is revealed. 10. The bartender was responsible because a) he did not prevent the customer from leaving the bar or b) he failed to cut the customer off. 11. Words of the driver, recorded as he went off the cliff by a small tape machine that Linda Tripp (or some such) had left on the seat: "Shit, I didn't see the turn." 12. It was the fault of the wife who called him and said if he wasn't back at midnight and didn't stop seeing that floozy at the bar she would pack up the kids 'n' go. He drove too fast trying to get back to calm her down. 13. It was the fault of the oversexed male chauvinist pig driver who needed to validate himself through the sexual objectivication of two women, his wife and his mistress, and he died trying to keep his dominance over both. Just another example of the problems caused by men and their chauvinist big dicks.

What is the point? The point is that viewed as an ensemble of possibilities we do not really "arrive at an understanding" of the behavior. We merely arrive at some preferred reconstruction and interpretation of the event, which may or may not further our objectives in other matters (such as making manufacturers make better cars, getting the local police to enforce anti-drunk driving laws, getting zoning and other rules changed to favor cities, changing the cultural biases which influence sexual relationships, etc.).

But I'm not certain that we really "understand" even so simple an event as a car accident when we bring to bear these multiple heavy duty theoretical interpretations, some of which are emninently plausible. And for this reason I am loath to conclude that I will arrive at an "understanding" of what caused a 17 and 18 year old to spend a year planning to assassinate not just jocks and minorities, but to blow up the whole fucking school, presumably with everyone in it. Almost everyone I hung out with would have cheered had our high school been blown up, but not if we were in it, and in any case, we never did it, or even thought about how to go about it. Nor do I understand what caused a local yokel here in Albany to bring a rifle into a university classroom and shoot a student. The word in the press was cocaine and other addiction problems. *His* explanation, dutifully reported in the press, was that "they" had put a computer chip in his penis and the computer chip "made him do it." Not the first man to conclude that his penis was actuated by some principle other than his own will. Most of the folks round here just said he was crazy.

-- Gregory P. Nowell Associate Professor Department of Political Science, Milne 100 State University of New York 135 Western Ave. Albany, New York 12222

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