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11 august 1999, 09:00

"The bad monster ran away," said the boy, who clung to his mother and asked her if any of the wounded children had done anything wrong.

the world is truly a strange place. waking up this morning to the news, i was watching reports about no fewer than three shootings that have taken place in the last couple of days. there was the shooting at the jewish community and day-care center, the decision on whether or not to try the teen in georgia who decided to go and shoot up his high school as an adult and there is still the talk of the gunman who was gunned down by police in the bank downtown the other day. The web, of course was able to sum it all up for me.

this is not particularly what i had wanted to wake up to this morning. even less so was the notion that the kid who shot up his classmates "didn't want to hurt anything" that he was "firing at objects" or some such bullshit. it's very easy to take a hard-line "roast his nads" kind of an approach to it, which is what i was thinking this morning when i was watching this. i mean, that's some pretty messed up thinking, that the way to stir up a little trouble is to let fire with a gun. i was thinking that maybe there's more to this story. that there should be some other force at work here and that maybe we can't punish him. he's not really psychologically sound, they said, so it's not particularly his fault. if they can prove that he didn't know what he was doing was wrong, well then maybe he shouldn't be tried as an adult, only as a stupid kid.

and then i realized that that's pretty much what's wrong around here. we're always looking to place blame on somewhere other than the obvious place, rather than just accepting that if you do something wrong, you're going to have to pay the consequences.

appropriately enough, i was watching northern exposure the other day and it was an episode where there was a hearing for whether or not chris stevens was really the guy in some outstanding warrant from his home state. he was in fact guilty of the crimes in the warrant, way back in his younger days, and as such, said that if the court found him guilty then he should be sent to prison, for the good of the society (with numerous gratuitous references to billy budd in there along the way).

so this should pretty much be the exception and not the rule, right? well, that's all fine and good when you're all sure that someone's guilty. but what about that whole "innocent until proven" stuff. that's where we run into problems and i can only say that this is why i'm in here in this office hacking perl and not sitting out in our nations courts trying to decide this stuff.

though if it were up to me i'd most certainly want to stomp real hard on the kid's head who thought that it'd be a good idea to shoot up his friends. and for that guy in la. i don't think it's even worth talking about him.

on the other hand, i had the friendliest subway ride in to work today with people smiling at each other and being friendly. there was a woman who was fumbling with her bag and book and book jacket, and instead of getting the usual new york blank stares from the other passengers in the train, she actually got help and a friendly "one of those mornings, huh?" from a woman near by. of course there was the man who got up in the middle of the car and started telling everyone that the mayor is going to change the city constitution and so if i'm go home and find stuff missing, i'll know why. but he was really friendly about it.

and the dali lama is visiting new york. things must be good, right?

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