I am so glad I teach at a small school on the rim of Lapland and not at a big US Polytechnic. US society is in dire need of a large dose of the Moodle spirit of fellowship instead of the culture of fear and violence that leads to tragedies like at Virginia Tech.
My thoughts go out to the victims and their families.
I appreciate your sentiments but I would like you to know that like many places in the US, Va. Tech has had and still has the spirit of Moodle in its community. In fact VPI has used Moodle to teach Computer Science classes.
Those of us who have walked on the school's campus have not seen a culture of fear and violence but one of warmth and caring.
And what we witnessed Monday was a complex matter involving a deeply troubled person who saw violence as his only solution.
I too wish my kindest thoughts to the victims families and friends and include Cho's family in that number.
The British like to think of ourselves as more 'civilised' than America (which we are! ) but in the last twenty years we've had a gun attack in Hungerford, England, where a man walked through the streets of a small town shooting anyone he came across before finally killing himself, a gun attack at a school in Dunblane, Scotland, where a man roamed the school shooting pupils and teachers at random before killing himself, and a machete attack at a primary school in Wolverhampton, England, where a man attacked pupils and teachers before being overpowered.
It has nothing to do with whether the society is 'civilised' or not, or whether the people live in an atmosphere of fear or one of love - if someone goes off the rails they'll do whatever the voices in their head tell them to.
Incidentally, after the Dunblane incident it was made illegal to own any sort of gun in Britain (with the exception of shotguns, which are heavily regulated). You're not allowed to own any sort of rifle or pistol. All the licensed gun clubs had to close, depriving thousands of people of harmless sport, but needless to say the only people who can now get their hands on guns are criminals, and the number of people killed by guns here every year just keeps on rising...
Perhaps you are more "civilised" than America but you certainly aren't more "civilized." The sad thing though is that a large number of British seem to feel that way about the people in all of the countries they once controlled, not just the US. I participate in an Egypt-related forum where most of the participants are British and I am constantly finding myself having to defend Egyptians against some really offensive things that are said by people who judge others by their own values.
We forget here in the UK, what a small, insular place we live it.
Somebody once said (I wish I could remember who) that Britain and the USA are divided by speaking the same language (sort of). We have completely different cultures and yes, Nicole, you are quite right that's no excuse to judge.
> Of course it is such a big place that just about everything probably happens more often there.
The US has about fifty times the land area but only about four times the population. I don't know if this sort of thing happens proportionately the same amount as here or whether it really does happen more often. We probably hear about everything that happens in the States because they're a media-oriented society - you only have to cough over there and it makes it onto a TV news channel somewhere. Other countries are probably either more secretive (like Russia or China) or we take less interest in them because they're not English-speaking and so somehow safely "foreign".
> Somebody once said (I wish I could remember who) that Britain and the USA are divided by speaking the same language (sort of).
I think it was Churchill who described us as "Two nations divided by a common language". I don't know if he coined the phrase or whether he was quoting someone else.
Anyway, look at the news for the last 24 hours. A mayor was assassinated by a member of Japan's largest gang in front of the city's train station while campaigning and 19 were killed in a gang shootout with police in Rio yesterday. Everyone is so focused on the US that these stories seem to have slipped notice.
If you had been watching the UK news programmes this morning, you may have detected similar schadenfreude to that I noticed on a holiday in America a couple of years ago just after the London bombings.
As an American woman tried to explain this morning on TV, the right to bear arms is tied up in American 'identity'. This is something that I genuinely don't understand but would like to understand better. A society that holds dear that right does not necessarily have 'worse' (whatever that might mean) values than one that does not, but it does seem to lead to easier availability of guns. There is a great fear in the UK of guns becoming more available, especially to young people.
To remind ourselves that killing the object of our desire has a history, let's look at what Oscar Wilde had to say - romantic but unpalatable IMHO as a woman (although in Oscar's case it may have been a man)!!
"Yet each man kills the thing he loves,
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!" Oscar W!!
This became a formalized part of the American identity during the years that a foreign oppressive government occupied and victimized the citizenry at the point of a gun. And in 1789 it was felt that every man should have the right to take arms against an oppressive government, so it became an amendment to the Constitution of the US government.
It should be noted that 2nd Amendment does not require that one should be compelled to bear arms, as is required in some countries.
Even with these laws, there is much debate in the US about the application process and licensing in the purchase of handguns. In the case of Cho's gun purchase application, he lied about his prior involuntary commitment for mental illness.
Of course, none of this discussion will help assuage the grief of the those closely effected, or prevent future tragedies.
Being, partially, of Irish ancestry, my forebears had a similar experience to what you describe at the hands of the country of which I am now a citizen, so I have sympathy with the 18th century attitude. I do find it difficult to see the relevance of the right to bear arms in the present day. Presumably, taking arms against the current government would be against the law, and most of the use of arms is against fellow citizens. I think that from the perspective of other societies, the prevalence of guns in the home seems 'dangerous' , whereas, if the right to bear arms is a given, that prevalence may seem like protection.
I have read that even for Democrats, change in gun laws is not an issue. You mention debate - do you perceive any increase in support for change in gun laws?
The debate will continue. In my community, hunting is a tradition that many enjoy. The right to bear arms is considered about equivalent to the right to drive a car to those in the EU. In other words, by permit, with the loss of privilege in the event of criminal action or mental incapacity.
The Brady Bill (federal gun control) has had support of the majority for many years even though it does not keep guns out of the hands of those with criminal intent. The politically powerful NRA is a vocal minority that has firm control over both major parties. Because of this it is likely that some localities will look into deeper background checks and longer waiting periods or other forms of government control, but not very likely that the Constitution will be changed to remove a freedom from the public.
Presumably, taking arms against the current government would be against the law..
According to the US Constitution, no it would be legal for the local milita to take aggressive action if the Federal government was committing illegal actions in violation of the Constitution or Federal law.
I understand your point, but I think it would be a slippery slope to repeal it on the grounds it isn't relevant today. There are those who would argue that other constitutional amendments are no longer relevant and might even be harmful for security (such as the first amendment, or the fifth amendment) and the whole foundation of US law and society could quickly be eroded. Many people believe that if others had been bearing arms on Monday the killer would have been stopped before so much carnage occurred, and they would argue that it is very relevant today. I think in order to preserve our overall rights and the system that has been working for more than 200 years we need to oppose any changes such as this.
I think in order to preserve our overall rights and the system that has been working for more than 200 years we need to oppose any changes such as this.
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin.
"A new fascism promises security from the terror of crime. All that is required is that we take away the criminals' rights — which, of course, are our own. Out of our desperation and fear we begin to feel a sense of security from the new totalitarian state." - Gerry Spence
> "As an American woman tried to explain this morning on TV, the right to bear arms is tied up in American 'identity'. This is something that I genuinely don't understand but would like to understand better."
> This became a formalized part of the American identity during the years that a foreign oppressive government occupied and victimized the citizenry at the point of a gun. And in 1789 it was felt that every man should have the right to take arms against an oppressive government, so it became an amendment to the Constitution of the US government.
Perhaps I'm getting cynical in my old age, but it has occurred to me in the past that the real reason why our government was so keen to ban guns for ordinary citizens (not for criminals, of course - they obviously have no trouble obtaining weapons) was so that the people couldn't rise up against the government. The government we're most likely to rise against is actually the one in Brussels, rather than the one in London, so perhaps they want to make sure that they can keep the British people under their foreign oppressive government by force of arms if necessary...
Right on Mark! It should be pointed out that as late as 1812 in our history this foreign oppressive government, after being thrown off the continent 20 years earlier, decided to take another stab at things by invading and burning down Washington DC. Those guns came in handy then!
But this is another time... and old ways and beliefs die hard! Now we purchase guns mostly to protect ourselves from each other, rather than possible invasion. The reasons for this are complicated as we are a complex and very diverse society. America is an experiment that both fascinates and appalls those who watch us. Sometimes things blow up in the lab, but sometimes we produce something awesome like a view of our planet from the moon or the means to communicate via a global network of computers. Sometimes we produce total morons for our leaders (like now), and sometimes we produce leaders that can save the world from itself like in the last century's tragic world wars.
The debate over gun control will certainly heat up again here in the US. Those who point out that guns don't kill people - people kill people, will have their say. So far folks who favor some form of handgun control (the majority) here in the US have failed to make their position known politically. That part of the experiment will have to change. Our sacred 2nd Amendment needs an upgrade. However, even doing that won't prevent people from killing people. It should be pointed out that America certainly doesn't have a monopoly on that, our species isn't dealing well right now with aggression.
It seems rather self serving to try and poke a stick into your neighbors eye when something like a Virginia Tech massacre appears on the international news. During the 1980's and 90's I recall watching overseas news stories on a number of occasions reporting so called "hooligans" at soccer matches that went on rampage after a game, killing or maiming lots of people. In my humanity I felt as hollow watching this as I do today over the tragedy at Virginia Tech. I am grateful that my office managers son who attends nearby Virginia Tech is safe. I do however weep for all of us.
I am certainly not intending to poke a stick in my neighbour's eye. I feel great sympathy for those touched by this tragic event. I have found the posts on the right to bear arms to be very illuminating, and I don't feel any sense of superiority for my own country (now or in the 19th century). As someone pointed out, criminals can obtain guns fairly easily in UK, and there has been a spate of youth on youth killings recently with knives and guns. Having listened to the wisdom of posts here and done a bit more reading, I think that laws on gun control may become tighter in UK and USA regardless of their different constitutions.
However I am not so sure about "but sometimes we produce .... the means to communicate via a global network of computer". I thought that Tim Berners Lee was a Brit working in Switzerland so it might be better to think of the Internet/WWW as an international collaboration
I found this a
Just nit-picking a bit: the idea of hypertext system is often credited to Vannevar Bush and to his article "As We May Think" from 1945. The word "hypertext" and some early implementations of it was coined by Ted Nelson in 1965.
Tim BL did, however, code a wiki-like system already in 1980 and then went on to produce the first "modern browser " later on.
By the way, the web was "read-write" already in web 1.0, not just "read-only". It was meant to be that everyone collaborates in creating the content, from the first moment on. It all goes to say that people tend to think that things are invented when they come popular and/or usable for the common folks for the first time, as in the case of lightbulb and Edison (I mean that Edison did not invent the lightbulb, contrary to the common belief).
The larger point is, inventions aren't automatically recognised in every social group so we associate inventors with the moment the invention has been recognised by our group. The whole "I was using a very similar tool many years ago" coupled with the "it took this person's genius to come up with ways to make it work."
Much to discuss, here. But in another thread, I guess.
That goes for many others around here, too, obviously Non-alcoholic discussion sessions are welcome too!
> we associate inventors with the moment the invention has been recognised by our group
This is true, and it's not just true for inventions, but for all sorts of things. An epidemic will be regarded as having started when it hits Europe or America, though it might have been going in Africa or Asia for years. Even wars can have different start dates to different countries - to the British the Second World War started on September 3rd 1939, when we declared war on Germany after Hitler failed to comply with a British ultimatum to withdraw from Poland, but to the Czechoslovaks it probably started in 1938 when Germany invaded them, and to the Russians it will have started in 1941 when Operation Barbarossa was launched. Out of interest, a quick question to Americans here - when does America regard WWII as starting? Was it when we declared war on Germany, or was it Pearl Harbor?
Less controversial, maybe, historical periods are often understood in national terms. An easy example, the Classical Era in music going from J.S. Bach's death (1750) to Beethoven's death (1827).
Non-national groups have other ways to assess "historical landmarks," so to speak.
I do hope I didn't offend anyone by reporting on these teases. If I did, please excuse my candor. It comes from being a Québécois-Swiss non-nationalist.
America had a long held aversion to becoming involved in European wars. George Washington warned against such involvement in his Farewell Address. Also, the loss of life from WWI, together with the influenza epidemic and the Great Depression, made a majority of Americans believe that involvement in another "European" war was unwise.
Beyond that, Roosevelt did involve American through such programs as Lend-Lease, which provided an "Arsenal of Democracy" for the European war effort. And, many Americans crossed into Canada to volunteer in their armed forces. Nevertheless, U.S. involvement could have come sooner.
Hindsight, of course, is 20/20. We should have become involved when Hitler invaded Poland, which might have saved millions of lives. And, Chamberlain should not pushed his appeasement policy. But, the devastation and loss of life was so burned into the minds of the people, that no one wanted another war.
Seems like we all would have learned our history a little better... guess we will just keep repeating it.
P.S. Doughboy is really a WWI term, not WWII.
> the idea of hypertext system is often credited to Vannevar Bush and to his article "As We May Think" from 1945. The word "hypertext" and some early implementations of it was coined by Ted Nelson in 1965
I saw an item on television a few years ago claiming that the hyperlink was invented by a research engineer working for the GPO (now British Telecom). They actually interviewed the guy, and he showed the cheque he received as a bonus for the idea - I can't remember the amount, but it was small enough that he preferred to keep it as a souvenir rather than cash it.
I think that what happened with the Internet is what happens with other research - all sorts of people are working at different things, but they're sharing ideas through journals, conferences, or just knowing other people in the same field, so someone will have an idea, someone else will make it work, someone else will make it work better, someone else will have another idea based on that one, and so on.
I read that paragraph again, and I think that the important word is collaboration. I simply used Tim BL as an example of someone who played a role in a complex 'web' of technologies that have contributed to what we all now enjoy online. There will be many others whom I have not mentioned, and I only realised a couple of years ago that TBL was a Brit - I thought he was American. How could we possibly identify one person who was the 'father' of what is colloquially called the Internet? I am glad that you agree that the 'Internet' is international but would question a genesis that is restricted to one country, or even worse, one person.
US society is in dire need of a large dose of the Moodle spirit of fellowship instead of the culture of fear and violence that leads to tragedies..
I've read a lot of ridiculous posts in these forums over the past few years, but this tops the list. At first I was tempted to write a few paragraphs pointing out just how foolish that statement is, but then I remembered a saying that Harley Davidson enthusiast often use when questioned about their dedication to Harleys...
"If I have to explain, you wouldn't understand."
PS...please understand that I was reluctant to post this because anytime I find myself tending to agree with N. Hanson, I automatically assume something must be wrong with my thinking.
(oops, sorry, I almost inserted a smiley here, semi-deliberately to irk you)
I hope you forgive my Harley-like group-mindedness. I like the cooperation that goes on here in contributing time and ideas, but I agree it can lead to a closed mindset at times. I think that is what bothers you and I agree it can be problem.
I am saddened to see that so many posters are outraged by my message. It was not at all intended in that way. I apologise if I hurt anyone's feelings.
Nonetheless, I do maintain my point that the US has a culture of fear and violence (at least in comparison to the place where I live; I don't know about other parts of the world). Apparently, it is hard to bring up anything related to these school shootings, even to sympathise with the victims, without being accused of US bashing by some.
It is true that nobody in his right mind would go on a rampage shooting (mostly) total strangers.
It is also true that mentally disturbed people are found all over the world.
It is true that we cannot prevent a mentally disturbed person from going beserk.
It is true that a mass shooting could happen anywhere in the world (I know of one occurrence in the UK, one in Germany, one in Switzerland, one in France, one in OZ and one in New Zealand, for example. I am sure you can think of others. (In most of these countries stricter gun laws were introduced after the tragedies, but that is not my point.)
Question remains; why is this such a (relatively) common occurrence in the US, so much so, that lists and league tables can be kept about the worst mass shootings? Why are there so many Western countries, some even with equally liberal gun ownership laws, that do not have to grieve over massacred students on a yearly basis?
It seems that the right to own guns is not necessarily the core of the problem. It is the willingness to use them. Thus, in my opinion the problem is a cultural one and therefore quite hard to tackle. Hence, my wish that the US benefits from a spirit of fellowship like the one seen often in these forums.
None of the above indicates in any way that I dislike Americans or rejoice in the death of innocent students and teachers!
You ask: Question remains; why is this such a (relatively) common occurrence in the US, so much so, that lists and league tables can be kept about the worst mass shootings?
You mean in comparison to attrocities that have happened in Europe or on other continents? Comparisons of the US to where you live in Finland is not a truly fair comparison.
You live within Europe, which extends from the Urals to Gilbralter for a fairer comparison of a continental mixing bowl of cultures. I could understand if you compared Finland and Alaska. On what basis and from what sources do you base your understanding of the culture of the US? This country stretches from Maine to the Mid-Pacific. Their are many cultures here and many more than are portrayed by the Hollywood fantasy merchants and the press. I appreciate that you may know and may have visited many places within the US. I feel that many perspectives of the world about this country are seen based on very limited views of it's people.
I know these comments sound defensive, because I like you have pride in the people I know and care for in my community. I have visitied places in this world where soldiers carry submachine guns in front of banks and in airports. To me this appears where the populace is afraid of violent actions. Wherever I have lived or visited in the US, this is not my experience. I have never owned a gun or felt threatened by one here, but I have while abroad.
Although violence happens everywhere in the world, it is not a pervasive part of my cultural experience.
I would invite you to come and visit me, my family and neighbors, we could take a walk in my neigborhood and have a very Moodle experience.
This is quite common in Egypt, although it is police, not soldiers, so much so I didn't notice it anymore after living there for years, and except for outside embassies and other important places they are usually not machine guns but rather rifles or handguns (those are usually in the hands of plainclothes police). However, even after years of seeing that I was absolutely floored when I stepped off our flight out of Egypt for a transfer at Frankfurt airport. The first thing you see when you walk off the flight is two soldiers with machine guns as you walk through the door. It was really disturbing.
I don't know if they do that with all flights or just ones from certain countries where they want to make a sinister point to its people. Even in Egypt you aren't greeted with such brute force on arrival at the airport. In the US, you are more likely to see a drug sniffing dog at the airport than an officer with any kind of gun.
In any case, you are right, some countries put the guns only in the hands of the authorities everywhere to keep their people in line. I don't think that the soldiers are there because the populace is afraid of violent actions though but rather the government itself is afraid of violent actions by its own citizens and/or residents against the government. At least in the US the government has enough confidence in its stability to allow citizens and residents to carry guns without fearing they will overthrow the government with them.
At least in the US the government has enough confidence in its stability to allow citizens and residents to carry guns without fearing they will overthrow the government with them.
A valid point, and one which echoes a post I made earlier - I have a nasty feeling that the real reason why they were so quick to ban British citizens from possessing guns was so that we couldn't turn them en masse against the (Brussels?) government, rather than so that we couldn't occasionally turn them against each other.
The only places in Britain where you will see police openly carrying weapons as a matter of course is at airports. In all other places the use of guns is restricted to a few specially-trained officers, who have to keep the weapons locked up and out of sight unless they're needed.
Incidentally, I don't know about other countries but the British police don't carry machine guns. The generally-preferred weapon is the Heckler & Koch MP5, which is the same gun that the SAS use, but the police version is modified so it can only fire single shots. You only get one round per squeeze of the trigger - if you want another one you have to squeeze it again. The Army use machine guns, of course, but we don't want policemen spraying the place with automatic fire!
I am no historian but I would like to challenge this rolling up of gun control and resistance to the rule of Brussels. Wikipedia (not entirely reliable) might be a useful starting point . Basically, gun control pre-dated EU.
I have visited USA twice (west and east coast) and felt very safe but I can't claim a representative experience, after all I was a tourist. I also hugely enjoyed my trips and the people I met. However I found these statistics interesting, see here.
Albania's stats for homicide are clearly worse than USA but generally USA has much higher % figures for homicide and suicide than European countries. It is at least worth considering whether or not this may be associated with the availability of guns rather than any in inherent difference in destructive tendencies between US and European cultures.
You mean in comparison to attrocities that have happened in Europe or on other continents?
With a few exceptions, in Europe we don't tend to have lone madmen going on the rampage with guns as happens in America. The European model is for entire countries to go on the rampage with guns...
This country stretches from Maine to the Mid-Pacific. Their are many cultures here and many more than are portrayed by the Hollywood fantasy merchants and the press.
We (certainly the British, and probably other European nations) think of America as one uniform country - we'll refer to someone "Going to America on holiday". Having said which, I think Americans </sweepinggeneralisation> are as bad - they talk of "Going to Europe on holiday" - like, which bit? Britain? Germany? Italy? Greece? All totally different countries and cultures.
We also tend to think of America as being a very violent and unruly country, mainly because for the last 30-40 years we've been fed a diet of cop shows, from Kojak and Starsky & Hutch, through Hill St Blues, to CSI and NYPD Blue, and all the other shows in between. Naturally they set all these programmes in big cities like New York and LA, which probably are very violent, so there's plenty of action. If they set them in Gallstone, Iowa, where the most exciting bit of police work is someone's dog getting run over, they probably wouldn't get such good viewing figures! This does, unfortunately, give us a rather jaundiced view of American society.