Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 202: A mass knifing attack in Texas, even as the British press fans up concern on the easy availability of knives . . . maybe it's not the weapon but the wielder?

It seems that in Texas, yesterday:
A student who told police he'd fantasized for years about stabbing people to death was charged Tuesday with carrying out a building-to-building attack at a Texas community college that wounded at least 14 people, many of whom were stabbed in the face and neck, authorities said.

The Harris County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that 20-year-old Dylan Quick used a razor-type knife, and that he told investigators he'd been planning the attack at the suburban Houston campus for some time. Two people remained in critical condition late Tuesday.

Pieces of the blade were found in at least one victim, according to the sheriff's office. Broken blade pieces also were found in the area where the stabbing occurred, and the handle was discovered in a backpack that Quick was carrying when he was arrested . . . .

Authorities were seen entering Quick's parents' home in a middle-class neighborhood of Houston late Tuesday. No one answered the door or the phone at the red brick house, where two vehicles were parked in the driveway, including a Honda Accord with a license plate that said "DYLAN." It was not immediately known if Quick had an attorney.

"I can't imagine what would have happened to that young man to make him do something like this. He is very normal," said Magdalena Lopez, 48, who has lived across the street from the Quick family for 15 years.
Quick, who is deaf -- a handicap not exactly noted for association with aggressive tendencies! -- but otherwise seems to have been quite "normal," comes from a very normal middle class home and community (one caring enough to post a warning sign that a deaf child lived in the area, lest motorists make a fatal blunder). 

A neighbour's observation:
Elva Garcia, 46, who lives two houses down from the Quicks, described him as a nice young man who stayed out of trouble and only came outside with his parents. She saw him, she said, just this past weekend, working with his parents in the front yard.

"We can't even believe it. What motive would he have?" Garcia said.

The attack came three months after a different Lone Star campus was the site of a shooting in which two people were hurt. The suspected gunman in that incident is charged with aggravated assault.
 Meanwhile, in the UK, where certain knives cannot be sold to someone under a legally defined age, there seems to be a bit of a media panic on the easy accessibility of knives and the like implements. According to a Sun report that appears under a picture of a young miss holding a sword or sword-like cutlass (with a couple of others below) and displaying several kitchen knives and a meat cleaver:
A Sun investigation today reveals how shockingly easy it is for youngsters to buy weapons, despite a series of high-profile killings involving teenagers. 

One girl was able to buy 14 deadly blades from seven shops in just a few hours. 

The Sun’s investigators sent girls to buy the knives in order to copy the tactics used by gangs. 

By law, shops can only sell blades to over-18s who can produce ID. But 17-year-old Hannah Rose-Wynter was served in seven shops without being asked to prove her age.

Just one shop asked whether she was over 18 — and sold her a knife anyway after she lied and said she was. Only Homebase asked for ID and refused to serve her. 

Student Hannah easily obtained a variety of kitchen and catering knives from shops in South East London . . . . 

Kitchen knives are the most commonly used weapons in teenage gang attacks, police say. A South London gang member, 15, told how teens get their girlfriends to buy knives because females arouse less suspicion and local shops rarely ask questions. 
 The problem here?

We are missing the mark: the wielder, not the weapon.

First, guns -- the usual focus for such panics.

Guns are essentially medieval technology, a closed ended metal tube with a propellant and a projectile, a handle and a trigger. Any graduate from a half-decent metalwork course could make one, albeit not a high-capacity magazine, rapid fire device. But, if the drugs trade cannot be stopped, neither can the associated guns trade. The only reason why Cold War surplus automatic assault rifles are not on the streets of London or Los Angeles is that such are not cost-effective as they are too bulky and would attract a disproportionate response from law enforcement.

Next, bombs [the real mass killers].

It is shockingly easy to make or obtain high explosives. It is even possible to convert certain detergents or insecticides into industrial quantities of such explosives, if one has the equivalent of a couple of good classes in organic chemistry at college level. Black powder, can be made by anyone with elementary school education who can access some sulphur powder and knows how to extract saltpetre from common wastes. Charcoal, the third ingredient, is so common that we don't need to mention it. As for gasoline, a gallon is equivalent to eight sticks of dynamite, i.e. a pint-bottle sized Molotov cocktail is a formidable weapon equivalent to a stick of dynamite.  Gun cotton is so easy to make -- and is hardly distinguishable from unaltered cotton wool -- that it is shocking. (IIRC, such was first made by accident, and discovered the hard way: boom!)

If someone is determined, mass killings by bombings are essentially unpreventable.

 As for knives, axes, swords and spears, the technology is fundamentally neolithic: a sharp edged blade and an attached handle or shaft, flint or obsidian -- or a shark's teeth -- will do. More relevantly, go Iron age, c. 1000 BC: get a bit of leaf spring from an old car, and heat then beat it into shape, and you will have a most impressive machete. Indeed, that is the basic recipe for the famous Kukri [cf. here], the traditional, devastatingly effective weapon of the famous Gurkha warrior (and the common cutting and chopping farm implement in his homeland, Nepal):

And, of course, the student in Texas seems to have used essentially the same implement used by the 9/11 hijackers over a decade ago: the cheap, easily obtained snap-off blade utility knife, aka "box cutter." 

Where also, largish kitchen knives can easily be turned into devastating weapons, never mind the tools of the butcher or the restaurant or the professional fish cleaner.

Access to weapons, in the end, is unpreventable. We can only make it harder, or make it so potentially costly that it is not worth the effort.

 Going back to young Mr Quick in Texas, we need to zoom in on the report that he had apparently been fantasising about such an attack for years.

That points to movies, videos, games and books that feed such fantasies. 

It also points to a culture that has steadily eroded the value of life by promoting evolutionary materialist ideologies -- often falsely dressed up in the lab coat of science -- that undermine both values and the value of life in particular. Thus, opening the door to the demons.

Maybe, we need to listen again to Plato as he warned our civilisation in his The Laws, Book X, c. 360 BC -- yes, 2350 years ago:
Ath. . . . [[The avant garde philosophers and poets, c. 360 BC] say that . . .  [t]he elements are severally moved by chance and some inherent force according to certain affinities among them-of hot with cold, or of dry with moist, or of soft with hard, and according to all the other accidental admixtures of opposites which have been formed by necessity. After this fashion and in this manner the whole heaven has been created, and all that is in the heaven, as well as animals and all plants, and all the seasons come from these elements, not by the action of mind, as they say, or of any God, or from art, but as I was saying, by nature and chance only. [[In short, evolutionary materialism premised on chance plus necessity acting without intelligent guidance on primordial matter is hardly a new or a primarily "scientific" view! Notice also, the trichotomy of causal factors:  (a) chance/accident, (b) mechanical necessity of nature, (c) art or intelligent design and direction.] . . . .

[[Thus, they hold] . . .  that the honourable is one thing by nature and another thing by law, and that the principles of justice have no existence at all in nature, but that mankind are always disputing about them and altering them; and that the alterations which are made by art and by law have no basis in nature, but are of authority for the moment and at the time at which they are made.- [[Relativism, too, is not new; complete with its radical amorality rooted in a worldview that has no foundational IS that can ground OUGHT. (Cf. here for Locke's views and sources on a very different base for grounding liberty as opposed to license and resulting anarchistic "every man does what is right in his own eyes" chaos leading to tyranny. )] These, my friends, are the sayings of wise men, poets and prose writers, which find a way into the minds of youth. They are told by them that the highest right is might [[ Evolutionary materialism leads to the promotion of amorality], and in this way the young fall into impieties, under the idea that the Gods are not such as the law bids them imagine; and hence arise factions [[Evolutionary materialism-motivated amorality "naturally" leads to continual contentions and power struggles; cf. dramatisation here],  these philosophers inviting them to lead a true life according to nature, that is, to live in real dominion over others [[such amoral factions, if they gain power, "naturally" tend towards ruthless tyranny], and not in legal subjection to them.
William Provine's well-known University of Tennessee Darwin Day keynote address of 1998 inadvertently underscores the point:
Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent . . . . The first 4 implications are so obvious to modern naturalistic evolutionists that I will spend little time defending them. Human free will, however, is another matter. Even evolutionists have trouble swallowing that implication. I will argue that humans are locally determined systems that make choices. They have, however, no free will . . .
We have indoctrinated a generation in the name of science, that they are the plaything of genetic and socio-cultural forces and impulses that control their behaviour. We have told them, that impulses which are "natural" are a right. We have undermined the foundation of right and wrong, of the objectivity of duty. We have slaughtered half or more of a generation in the womb in some countries.

Do we wonder, that we have a traumatised young generation coming up that lacks impulse control and restraint due to respect for the other?

The time has more than come to rethink what we are doing, and to rethink the notion that more and more intrusive and controlling government is the solution to our problems.  For, echoing Washington: government is not reason but force, a dangerous servant at best, and a potentially devastating monster if it goes out of control. Here, we must consider excessively intrusive and controlling government in the hands of people conditioned by the sort of indoctrination just given.

If that does not give you nightmares, it should.

We need to step back, and rethink what we are doing, from the ground up.

Including, first of all, what we are teaching and thinking in the name of science. END