The Failure to Confront Evil in Florida Shooting

Every time a mass shooting occurs in America, you can map out the public discussions that inevitably follow. They usually deal with gun control, mental illness, or parental care. In other words, issues that are sociological. The problems are well worth discussing, but the outcomes are predictable.

The most recent mass shooting in Florida is no exception. The central point that binds the current debate is the possibility that the shooter is mentally ill. Any arguments that follow are based on that assertion. The usual reaction to an event like this is to look for answers that reside outside of the person who committed the crime in question. For the most part, the shooter was parentless, and without a doubt, this kind of social situation surely had a negative impact on him.

Perhaps this shooter is mentally ill. I cannot make that conclusion since I am not a psychiatrist nor have I evaluated him. But what we are failing to ask is whether this is an act of evil as opposed to one induced by mental illness or social conditions?

It is easier for us to accept the possibility of mental illness. It can be measured in various ways using certain scientific indicators and it gives us the illusion that, perhaps with the right tweaking, we can control it and thereby prevent future horrors. It can also absolve one from guilt. Evil is a much more difficult question to explore because it is both a philosophical and theological problem. It encompasses many facets of human personality and demands that we ask abstract and absolute ethical questions.

My objective here is not to engage in a theological discussion. What is more intriguing in the case of the Florida shooting is that people are not demanding justice but are instead demanding quick legislative changes. There is a disconnect between this particular event and any reflection about it. So far, reactions have been governed by emotions, which tend to be irrational and uninformed. Almost always, it is the Republican leadership that is blamed for someone else’s act of free will.

That an individual person has free will and that they act according to it is an unimaginable reality in the culture of victimhood. As a result, the media is conflicted. Should they treat the shooter as a victim of the system? That is tempting because then, perhaps, reform of the system might prevent future incidents? Of course, this always means more regulation. But if criminals are seen as victims, where does that leave the actual victims who have perished in crimes? By this equation, everyone involved is a victim. That still leaves us with the question of who is responsible? And the answer to that question always seems to be people who were nowhere near the scene of the crime.

Today, individual responsibility and a call to a higher ethical life is forgotten. It does exist, of course, and we see this privately whether in our own lives or in the lives of friends and family. It is yet another disconnect between the illusions created by the media and the reality of the private lives of the people who consume their products. They still believe that ethical decisions matter, that free will exists, and that virtue is worth cultivating. Yet as they pay heed to the purveyors mass consciousness, much of this is lost in the hysteria.

The illusions which are created every day by the media are predicated on the principle of fluidity. This means that reality can shift its shape in order to suit momentary appetites. If there are no grounding principles that can guide us toward an examined and a well-lived life, then how can we expect to address a particular event, such as the Florida shooting, according to universal and logical principles? If everything is fluid, then the line between good and evil is either very thin or it doesn’t exist at all. Only one conclusion can come out of this existential mess, and that is a certainty that chaos will dominate.

We underestimate the importance of consequences. Writing about intellectual life, Richard Weaver said that “ideas have consequences.” This is a true statement, but today we suffer from the lack of faith in firm ideas. This too has consequences. There is no permanence and what feels good today may be discarded tomorrow. In this kind of existential structure, any concept of traditional principles is bound to be lost. If we are unable or not allowed to name and recognize an evil deed, then how can we expect to have any fruitful discussion about this particular shooting, or from any other for that matter?

By nature, we desire an immediate solution to our suffering. But we can’t resolve this kind of suffering with more legislation. Unless we address the deeper maladies of our society, and our souls, we will repeat the process of the predictable reactions and debates.

About Emina Melonic

Emina Melonic is an adjunct fellow of the Center for American Greatness. Originally from Bosnia, a survivor of the Bosnian war and its aftermath of refugee camps, she immigrated to the United States in 1996 and became an American citizen in 2003. She has a Ph.D. in comparative literature. Her writings have appeared in National Review, The Imaginative Conservative, New English Review, The New Criterion, Law and Liberty, The University Bookman, Claremont Review of Books, The American Mind, and Splice Today. She lives near Buffalo, N.Y.

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28 responses to “The Failure to Confront Evil in Florida Shooting”

  1. I find it pretty conclusive that ALL the debate has been on gun-control, in spite of our knowing about the multiple alerts to the FBI, which were all ignored. And in spite of the rare fact that this killer hasn’t shot himself and is still alive and well. No calls to fix the holes in the FBI. No calls for swift and awesome justice for this killer. No. My guns and yours are the problem–why, children are telling us so, I’m sure NOT AT ALL goaded by Soros money and activist groups. /sarc

    All that the Left and its useful idiots are interested in is gun-control. Period. I’ll go as far as to say that these evil occurrences are a very appetizing opportunity to them, so that they have a reason to keep the issue alive and on top of whatever wave of emotion these events trigger. The bigger evil is in this.

    • You’ve got your chicken and egg entirely wrong. Folks on the left don’t like guns because they kill people. They don’t want to see people get killed to have a case against guns. There’s no need for conspiracy theorizing when our differences are challenging enough.

      • Folks on the left don’t like guns because they kill people.
        And folks on the left are too stupid to realize that guns protect people.
        They want all of us defenseless.

      • Nope. They don’t want folks defenseless. But they are smart enough to realize that main thing you need (say) an AR-15 to defend is against some crazy person *with a gun.*

      • You are delusional son. Most on the left aren’t smart, they are brain-washed and walk in lock step and allow themselves to be whipped into a frenzy at the latest cause set forth by their Dear Leaders and the leftist media. Pussy hat this week? No, this week it is “assault rifle” bans. Next week it will be something else, to keep them and Americans in general distracted from the real crimes committed by Hillary, Comey, and muckity mucks in the FBI and DoJ. Open your eyes.

      • Joel, cars kill people. And in greater number than school shootings. The public debate of school shootings focuses on the tool, not the person. A secular society can’t explain evil or offer comfort for its existence. This is why we need to acknowledge the sacred, in order to deal with both the magnificent (birth of a baby, for instance) and the horror (senseless murders).

      • With respect: Cars are tools for transport. Generally, the deaths they cause are accidents.

        Guns are tools for killing. When somebody uses a gun to kill, they’ve used the gun the way it’s supposed to be used. Which is why it’s entirely reasonable to view them somewhat differently than other tools.

        “A secular society can’t explain evil or offer comfort for its existence.” Maybe not, but isn’t this kind of an argument against laws against murder?

        I acknowledge the right to self-defense. I think that can even be accomplished with guns. But I’d suggest that there are some guns of sufficient capability to cause great amounts of death in a relatively short time that the offense-to-defense ration is badly askew, and that access to them should be, perhaps not banned, but restricted to citizens who have demonstrated some ability to use them responsibly.

        Like we do with cars.

      • You offer a cogent argument, and the notation of purpose v. accident is valid. I would like to see more public condemnation of evil as evil, because I think it would act as a deterrent, as most people (even adolescents) want to be viewed, even admired, for being good. This probably not have deterred this particular shooter. He may well have learned how to deal with the authorities due to having been pointed out to them so regularly.

        As to the AR-15, it is an easy, fun gun to shoot. But it can’t shoot any faster, to my knowledge, than any good semi-automatic. People mention the size of the magazine. Changing the magazine on a pistol takes only 2-3 seconds if you don’t care about damaging the magazine, and just let the empty one drop. The AR-15 shoots accurately from a greater distance than a pistol, allowing the shooter to distance himself from the blood and mayhem he’s causing.

        Trump’s proposal to raise the age to 21 to buy an AR-15 (or even any semi-auto) is fine by me. There have been serious questions raised elsewhere about the data base for the ID check to buy guns. These are both measures that deserve full consideration.

      • Thanks for the respectful comment, first of all. We don’t have to agree on everything to treat each other right.

        I hear what you’re saying about the pistol. A couple of things, though: Even two or three seconds in a crisis might be enough to save a life or let a “good guy” with or without a weapon begin to neutralize a shooter; depending on the capacity of a magazine – some after-market options for the AR-15 hold up to 100 rounds – the difference might be three, four, more pauses of two to three seconds with the pistol. Those are differences worth pondering.

        Elsewhere on AmGreatness, somebody is advocating background check revamps so that people who have demonstrated a real propensity toward harm are flagged. I’m down with that. Conservatives can be pretty clever at coming up with solutions that don’t require government to be too heavy handed; I’m eager to see them apply that cleverness to the issue of mass shootings.

      • Take a look at the Virginia Tech shooting before you get too much more concerned over the AR-15.

        Two pistols, a hammer and a knife were used in Virginia during a much longer and unfortunately a much worse incident.

        Both Virginia Tech and Florida did have a number of other similarities however. Both shooters had a history of mental illness, opportunities to stop the shooters were missed and both shooting sites were gun free zones. Both shooters were able to purchase firearms even tho they were noted for having violent tendencies and mental health issues.

        One common factor also is a series of mistakes by authorities in following currently established procedures and current laws.

        Perhaps one big solution would be actually doing what the current laws require?

        The FBI and local law enforcement failed spectacularly in Florida.

      • I don’t have anything wrong. Gun control is an anthropological issue for leftists. It’s a capital sin in (perhaps *the* capital sin) in their statist religion. If you merely wanted so save lives, you wouldn’t be a) the ones mollycoddling violent illegal aliens, b) the ones apologizing for violent Islam, c) the ones wanting to lessen prison sentences for convicted felons, d) the ones who shrug away murder stats in places where gun control already exists (e.g., Chicago, AKA “mission accomplished, law’s on the books here… next!”), e) the ones so eerily ready to orgasmically exploit these mass-shooting to keep your pet issue alive, and f) the ones who NEVER, even by mistake, EVER propose anything but gun control after these mass murders.

        No, private gun ownership is what gets under your skin. If you really wanted to save lives, you’d at least consider other solutions, but you never do. Your monomania is showing, and we would need to be blind not to see it. But we ain’t.

      • I am, for the sake of argument, going to assume your premises here.

        “If you merely wanted so save lives, you wouldn’t be a) the ones mollycoddling violent illegal aliens,”

        The violence I’ve heard about in the celebrated cases involved the use of guns.

        “b) the ones apologizing for violent Islam,”

        Who attack us with guns and bombs? It’s ever more difficult to get bomb-making material scraped together in the US, but no problems with the guns used in attacks.

        “c) the ones wanting to lessen prison sentences for convicted felons,”

        Who are often convicted of gun crimes.

        “d) the ones who shrug away murder stats in places where gun control already exists ”

        Because we recognize that borders within America are porous, so carrying a gun into Chicago is pretty easy even if you don’t buy it there.

        If there’s a monomania regarding guns, it’s because guns seem, largely, to be the common thread between the diverse types of crime you mention.

      • You are another “Last Man.” Look it up if you don’t know what it is. You are begging your government to take away OUR constitutional rights because you are too nihilistic to treasure it. Speak for yourself, then, put a “gun free zone” sign in your yard, and keep hoping that evil just magically stays away from you (and your family, if you have one) as a reward for your tie-dyed, pie-in-the-sky way of thinking.

        Best for last: you say mine is a monomania, but anyone re-reading your post can see that all of these issues (illegals, criminals, jihadists) are only a problem to you if guns are involved, because of what I said in my original post–which describes you to a T. As a typical liberal, you have zero self awareness.

        Luckily, though, there are more of us than of you, so I’ll keep my guns, thank you very much, and you can keep simmering in your postmodern soy-bath.

      • Ah, soy. You’re cute. Rather than debate the issue, you call me emasculated. Whatever.

    • The left never lets a tragedy go to waste. The left hates the protections of the Constitution and is trying to eliminate them at every opportunity. Last week it was the first amendment with their attack upon conservative media. This week it is the second amendment.

  2. My understanding of the Founders is that they designed the Constitution with an understanding that evil and incompetence would always be with us — “you shall not always have angels” etc. etc. — and thus built the Constitution to limit the damage our leaders could do. They did not try to legislative evil away; it can’t be done. But you can design systems that contain or slow it down.

    One can thus fairly easily ponder the nature of evil and still seek legislative solutions. No real justice is possible when 17 people were slaughtered; the best you can do is work to minimize the number of future victims.

    • You don’t actually give a damn about minimizing the number of future victims. You just want guns out of law-abiding citizens’ hands, and if you were honest you’d just state as much.

      Do you want the proof? Here it is: what do you think the chances are that the next mass shooter already has a gun, as I am typing this? And even if not, what do you think the chances are that if he wants to murder people he won’t stop at a mere trifling impediment like a gun-law? What makes you Liberalputians think that someone planning something as atrocious as mass-murder will be suddenly deterred from stealing/borrowing a gun? What if he used something else, like a machete or a bat? Why do you think that these incidents tend to happen in gun-free zones?

      And here’s the big one: when is the last time you people crusaded for anything–ANYTHING–but gun control to “minimize the number of future victims”? Answer: never. This means that you are not problem-solvers–you are just ideologues for whom gun control is, much like abortion and a fetish for any kind of “other,” a non-negotiable moral absolute. Not even a “well, we’d like to ban guns, but since Americans seem to be very attached to their 2nd Amendment rights, let’s at least do this other thing in the meantime.” No. Gun control, only and always gun control–for the last 40 years, gun control E. V. E. R. Y. time.

      I’m not trying to argue with you or convince you, because I know that your estrogenic emotionalism makes you people impervious to arguments. I’m writing this for anyone on the fence who may be curious enough to see why our side can’t afford to offer yours an olive branch, but we’ll just have to keep defeating you like we have all along. Thank God the NRA has been doing a fantastic job defeating you at every turn–this is not going to change in our lifetimes.

    • Precisely. And UNTIL the Government comes up with a way to GUARANTEE our safety it is IMPERATIVE that we MAINTAIN the legal right to keep and bear arms (plural) to protect ourselves and our children. I refuse to stand by idly while some mentally ill person slaughters kids (or my family)

      To be clear I don’t like the idea of having to shoot someone in order to protect my family but more so I hate the idea of idly watching my children being slaughtered right in front of me because I did not have the courage to own a firearm and protect them. Too many people today conflate WHY Cruz did what he did with WHAT should be done to protect ourselves once someone starts shooting. I think that is a mistake and unnecessarily complicates the issue.

      Until we figure out HOW to prevent mass shootings we MUST put in place measures that will protect people WHEN a crazy person decides to start shooting people. The founders had the common sense to know that Liberty means being able to KEEP YOURSELF ALIVE when someone starts shooting at you.

      I reject the “throw wads of paper and run around making a lot of noise” active shooter plan. That is Liberal insanity.

      Lastly we now know that there were at least 4 police officers in the parking lot of the high school DURING the shooting and they sat in the parking lot and did NOTHING while Cruz randomly slaughtered children inside the school. So I also reject the Democrats “we don’t need guns because we have law enforcement to protect us” philosophy. Tell that to the parents of the 17 innocent children who are now DEAD.

  3. Two problems.
    One, to conclude that someone is “evil”, one must make a judgment a/k/a be judgmental. Leftists in our dominant culture have prohibited personal “judgment”.
    Two, how does our dominant culture insidiously define “evil”? It’s a white business man. Or a white military man. Or a white Catholic priest. Sixty years ago, there was the black hat cowboy, and the white hat cowboy. We knew who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. Today, the black hat is…the white business man or military man or Catholic priest.
    You’re not going to get very far confronting “evil” with the above culture.

  4. Led by an American left that shouted “God is dead!” Americans swapped their priests and rabbis for lawyers and therapists. Thus, there is no more good and evil. There is only legal and illegal, or well and unwell.

  5. The issue here isn’t gun control, mental illness, or parental care. It’s not even primarily about the dual failures at the FBI.

    It’s the deliberate efforts of the Obama Admin to racially shape who gets charged by local authorities when they exhibit criminal behaviour. Too many blacks getting charged at schools? Simple, introduce legislation so they never enter the legal system. THIS is why an individual gets 39 visits from the cops and yet never gets charged, and is ultimately able to buy guns freely and kill 17 school goers.

    You think trying to alter the results of a Presidential election was the only thing Obama was guilty of? Think again – what a cancer on the face of America that scumbucket was, no question.

    • You bring up a possible explanation of how the shooter escaped being stopped somewhere along the line. I don’t know if it’s real, but if legislation is limiting or discouraging placing teens in the legal system, then those laws can be changed. One thing we have to be careful of is accidentally training kids to evade culpability and encouraging contempt for a system which cannot stop them. Until they’re in too deep to ever get out.

  6. This article explodes the myth of the gun control lobby and exposes the unintended consequences that result from shielding (mainly) black “students” from deserved charges from law enforcement. It is a truly shameful failure on the part of Government in the Obama Admin.

    Where are the voices crying out about this? Thanks Obama.

  7. There is no doubt in my mind that this was an act of evil. The shooter pulled the fire alarm in order to bunch his fellow students into a mass that would guarantee fatalities from shooting into the exiting mob. Unlike other school shooters, this one did not suffer from nihilism – he had an escape plan. I believe he joined the rear of the exiting students to make his escape. He intended to enjoy the media hype of his murderous outrage. Very, very, very cold. Now his attorney says he is remorseful. What a psychopath. He is willing and able to adapt his outer behavior to his surroundings. The mask is adaptable to the needs of the situation. I don’t see any other explanation than the existence of evil and its manifestation in certain damned individuals. This shooter is reminiscent of the ice cold killers of ISIS, more than he is of any disturbed school shooter acting out rage & despair, but with no clear view of surviving or of a life after the shooting. We live in a world where all sorts of excuses are used to mitigate the scary evidence that evil exists and, sometimes, walks among us.