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Killer (and I’m not talking apps) January 26, 2011

Posted by bobv451 in death, New Mexico, Wild West.

It’s hard to come to grips with nutjobs like the one in Tucson, but in the US we are utterly pacific when it comes to such things compared to other countries. Don’t let the Holocaust happen again sounds fine, but more than 6 million have been killed in the Congo. Mugabe in Zimbabwe has no compunction about killing that has to range into the definition of genocide. But 6 in Tucson shocks us.

And well it should. Pushing aside the old saw about one death is a tragedy, 1 million a statistic, these deaths are each personalized by our Internet-connected world. It could have happened to any one of us, and we know more about some of the slain individuals than we do our next door neighbors. But not that far away, across the border from El Paso in Juarez, more than 4000 have been murdered, systematically and without the grace of an individual’s insanity. Close to home and yet a world away.

Something about such violence has always drawn us like moths to the flame. In the AZ area, the Cowboys were eventually run to ground and killed by Wyatt Earp. Billy the Kid, of course, is fascinating because of the (probably bogus) claim he killed 21 men–his head count is probably about that of the Tucson killer. There’s no question that he was a killer and that makes him more memorable than his victims. Probably the most cold-blooded of the western gunfighters was John Wesley Hardin who started young and didn’t stop. He taught himself law while locked up for killing a deputy, was admitted to the bar when he was let out of prison, then went on to hire a killer to murder the husband of his married girlfriend (only to have the hired killer shoot him).

Our killing rampages aren’t a thing of the past, but they are now far more constrained to a single point in time rather than protracted over years. You might say we have moved on from the Wild West days. But the insane killer? Those will be with us forever, then, now and in the future. Unless you believe proactive crime prevention is possible.



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