Fifteen Crosses at Littleton, 150 “Victims” at Plane Crash

By | April 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

I decline utterly to be impartial as between the fire brigade and the fire.
– Winston Churchill

Do you recall the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado? Twelve students and one teacher were murdered by two students, who then committed suicide. The community put up 15 crosses on a hill, commemorating the murdered and the murderers alike.
The father of one of the murdered students could not tolerate this injustice. He pulled down the two crosses representing the murderers. But this was considered too “judgmental,” and all the remaining crosses were removed. Distinguishing between killers and victims was not permitted in the “non-judgmental” world of liberalism.
They say history doesn’t repeat itself exactly, but it rhymes. Sometimes this produces a cheerful ditty. More often it produces a depressing dirge. For example, take the crash of the Germanwings airliner. The co-pilot who crashed it, like one of the two murderers at Columbine, may have been on anti-depressants – a coincidence? And take an opinion piece in the April 2 Los Angeles Times.
A professor of biology declared that the co-pilot who – according to the best available information – deliberately crashed the plane into a mountain in the French Alps was also a “victim,” so there were 150 “victims,” not just 149. The professor’s reason was that the murderer was suffering from depression and had expressed suicidal thoughts.
The professor was willing to explain the plane crash on the basis of depression. But what if the university financial officer claimed to be too depressed to send out this month’s paychecks? Would the professor be equally forgiving? Would he claim that depression caused his pay to be withheld, and that the financial officer bore no responsibility for coming to work and then failing to do his job? I wonder whether the professor, who was so magnanimous about the lives of 149 innocent human beings, would be equally generous in forgoing his own salary.
The professor’s diagnosis was incomplete. Yes, the co-pilot was depressed, which led him to kill himself. But what led him to kill a planeload of innocent human beings – not someone against whom the co-pilot had a grudge, but strangers? Clearly, the co-pilot had a defective conscience, a word no longer in vogue. He wanted to become famous but didn’t care how. He was a first cousin of suicide bombers.
In fact, it is possible that depression was not the co-pilot’s primary problem. He may have had a personality disorder that rendered him incapable of empathy and stunted his interpersonal relationships. This lack of close friends may have made him secondarily depressed. Blaming depression for mass murder thus may be factually incorrect as well as morally objectionable.
Nevertheless, the professor concluded that the co-pilot did not crash the plane – his depression did. In other words, no one was responsible, legally or morally. Just as liberal news sources often say, “Violence broke out,” neglecting to mention who started it, the professor is, in effect, saying, “The plane crashed.”
Similarly, children often say, “The milk spilled,” but rarely say, “I spilled the milk.” One would expect a learned adult to have a keener moral sense than small children. One would be wrong. The professor may know a great deal about biology, but the concept of personal responsibility eludes him.
The word “judgmental,” in the sense of overly critical, self-righteous, or moralistic, dates only from the 1960s. For centuries, our greatest writers expressed themselves without using this word. Yet now we use it frequently. Why?
Are we more puritanical and moralistic than people were in former years? No, we are less so. Moral standards are obviously less strict than they were. This is agreed to by both those who favor and those who oppose the loosening of these standards.
So what do we mean when we call someone “judgmental”? Occasionally we really mean someone who is overly critical and self-righteous. But usually we mean something quite different. Usually we are condemning someone who dares to express moral values of any sort. Usually we are insulting someone for being “old fashioned” enough to distinguish between people for any reason whatever.
Continual TV watching teaches kids that fame is the most important thing, and we give more fame to murderers than to victims. Then we are shocked – shocked! – when some young people seek fame by becoming murderers themselves. Perhaps we should declare a moratorium on showing photos of murderers on TV and the Internet. Perhaps we should show photos of their victims. When we show many photos of the murderer but few of his victims, what lesson does this teach notoriety-hungry young people?
President Clinton’s pastor declared that it was our “duty” to forgive Timothy McVeigh for bombing the Oklahoma City federal building. (This happened when McVeigh was still alive.) How is it our right, much less our duty, to forgive those who have not injured us and who do not ask to be forgiven? The minister didn’t say.
In fact, it is the “non-judgmental” who often judge others most harshly. It is the “tolerant” who often show the greatest intolerance for those who disagree with them. And it is the self-proclaimed “humanitarians” who “love all the peoples of the Earth,” but who stand by idly in smug neutrality while the most inhuman acts are committed.
One need not be clairvoyant to predict what will result if we give equal sympathy to criminals and victims, while we give more fame to criminals. But if the harmful effects are so predictable, why do we persist in doing what we do?
We have, in effect, thrown out the rulebook. So we believe we have no cause to complain, no matter how gross or cruel someone’s behavior may be. After all, “Who are we to judge?” Who, indeed, when we have thrown away any basis on which to judge.
And if by chance we have a complaint, to whom can we direct it? In addition to throwing out the rulebook, we turned our backs on the Referee. We abandoned all basis for judgment and rejected the Judge. No wonder we condemn those who are “judgmental” – they show us up for what we are.
If we view all people and all actions through a moral fog, everything and everyone appears as a vague gray. Those who are lost in a fog are likely to blunder into danger and get hurt – and hurt others.
If some of our leading journalists, clergy, and professors express equal sympathy for criminal and victim, why are we upset when foreign journalists, clergy, and professors operate in a moral fog that is just as dense? Why do we complain when they scream “Death to America”?

● A fog is a fog – who are we to judge?

● Violence is violence – who are we to judge?

● Killing is killing – who are we to judge?

● Nobody is without fault – who are we to judge?

● There is something to be said for both sides – who are we to judge?

● Maybe the people in the World Trade Center were “furthering global capitalism” and deserved to be incinerated – who are we to judge?

● Maybe extremist Muslim “culture” allows the brutal repression of women and murder of Christians – who are we to judge?

● Criminals are also victims – who are we to judge?

● Maybe there are no criminals, only “sick” people – who are we to judge?

But if we don’t judge, who will? If we don’t take the side that is more just and less guilty, who will? If we don’t condemn murderers, who will? If we can’t distinguish murderers from their victims, who can?
If we use “tolerance” as an excuse to tolerate anything, no matter how horrible, we will become intolerable.
If we use “humanity” as an excuse for our inaction in the presence of cruelty, we will become inhuman.
If we use “forgiveness” as an excuse to treat criminals and victims alike, we will act unforgivably.
And if we use not being “judgmental” as an excuse for moral and physical cowardice, we will be judged.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.
www.stolinsky.com

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