Saturday, May 25, 2024

Happy Trails No More


Friends, I had no idea that Uvalde, Texas was the birthplace of Dale Evans.  How about that?  It's also now the birthplace of a massive class action lawsuit against Meta, the parent company of Facebook; Activision, a video game producer; and a gunmaker, Daniel Defense.  You can guess the reason.  A Uvalde resident and former student, aged 18, shot up Robb Elementary School and killed 19 children and 2 teachers there in 2022.  The lawsuit alleges that Meta, Activsion, and Daniel Defense have been "grooming...socially vulnerable" boys and young men by promoting first-person shooter video games and gun ownership.  Salvador Ramos, the perpetrator, was indeed a fan of "Call of Duty", which is an Activision game played by millions of people all over the world.  Now, reasonable people may question why so many boys and young men are spending so much time shooting fake people in virtual combat, but the fact of the matter is that this lawsuit is riddled with flaws.  First off, why not sue Ramos himself, or his parents, who are, quite obviously, much more directly responsible for this tragedy than Meta, Activision, or Daniel Defense?  The question rather answers itself: no big cash payout can be had from a convict or his penniless family members.  Second, if you ask me, one of the most odious features of modern American society is our monetization and commodification of suffering and victimhood.  We put on a pedestal almost anyone who can make a case that they're aggrieved -- and few of us can't make that case these days -- and we shower the "disadvantaged" and downtrodden with preferments, praise, and payouts.  It's disgusting, and, when it's done on the behalf of those who have died, it debases their memory to no end.  Indeed, it turns them and their legacy into a means to an end, and the end in sight is almost  It makes my stomach turn.  Frankly, it's extremely unlikely that any of these companies will ever pay a cent because of these lawsuits, and nor should they, but even if they did how would this serve the greater good?  Does anyone think that violent video games, or TV shows, or movies, or songs, are going to disappear?  Does anyone think "AR-15 style" guns (whatever those are!) will wink out of existence because a bunch of trial lawyers start keening about it?  Heck no!  At most, the Uvalde victims' relatives will get rich (if they aren't already, given the sympathy they've generated), and the companies in question will add little disclaimers to their products: "WARNING: Shooting actual people, as opposed to avatars, may be ill-advised."  If you ask me -- and you didn't, but bear with me -- the true cause of incidents like the shooting in Uvalde isn't social media applications, or video games, or even guns.  It's human frailty, exacerbated by atrocious parenting and a culture of entitlement and egoism.  This boy felt that nothing in the world mattered except his suffering, and he decided to take it out on anyone and everyone, without any concern for their lives and dignity.  Well, he's an extreme case, but a lot of modern folks have similar attitudes about themselves, the world, and other people.  They feel aggrieved, and they want payback, no matter what the long-term consequences may be.  In that sense, I'm sorry to say, Salvador Ramos and the relatives of his victims may have something in common: a very modern and increasingly universal fixation on their own pain, and an indifference to the interests of others and of society as a whole.  I deplore these lawsuits and the rampant victimology that spawned them.



    Your article is excellent. Thank you.

  2. Dr. Waddy from Jack: In working in state prisons I was around a lot of "aggrieved " persons and regularly witnessed their expression of blame for their incarceration on myriad persons and factors but very seldom on their own freely enacted will. Your conclusion above on the "true cause" of emotionally originated and demonstrated abominations like mass attacks is correct, I think. We will continue to experience such outrage as long as we insist on excusing entities or sane individuals for making criminal or actionable choices. The decline of belief in an omnicient and omnipotent power which holds each of us solely responsible for our adult behavior is a terribly important cause of such misapprehension.
    I have learned much about the actual practice of civil litigation; I have witnessed in it a high degree of cynical expeditiousness. I suppose in an adversarial legal system like ours, successful civil practitioners reason" we'll put our team on the field, as will our opposition and the contest itself is the way most likely to achieve justice." The ancient principle of making the injured party "whole" is now perhaps understandably enacted by remission of liquid wealth from the judged aggressor to the injured party. In some historical settings, blood or symbolic actions such as public penance, exile or imposition of reduced status was rendered or were performed. The Federal "Protection of Lawful Commerce in Firearms Act" was meant to prevent the prosecution of manufacturers for crimes done with lawfully acquired guns of their construction and sale. However, the relentless gun grabbers have hastened to find ways around it. Their ever object is to destroy what Tony Blair called "the gun culture" because they know that in America it is one of the pillars of the conservative movement as a whole and supports candidates, legislators and executives who are conservative on a wide range of issues well beyond private gun possession. Their protestations of concern for public safety in this ring false when one considers their attendant "compassionate" concern for career criminals and their endorsement of the unfettered murder of unborn children.

  3. Dr. Waddy from Jack: There are verities which stand even the test of our cynical and corrosive times. One of them is that toleration of crime and criminals, being after all viewed by criminals as license and as justification by the pathologically insane, generates flourishing , well, crime and spectacular acts of violence. Mayor Guiliani confirmed this by the astounding success of his empowerment of the "Broken Windows" concept in a nearly anarchic NYC. It holds that doctrinal excuse and even approval of "petty" crime (as exemplified by criminal apologist DAs now) encourages thugs and presumptuous violators of property. Duhh, yeah! Naturally the discredited antiamerican left can but respond by unrelentingly savaging Mayor Guiliani in characteristic vindictive totalitarianism. Gee, I wonder if predators and sociopaths have taken note of that! When a society rationalizes around common sense and personal responsibility, it always suffers and the pedantic antiamerican left can preach forever but it will never discredit that verity.

  4. Thank you, Ray! I actually expanded on this analysis and made a full article out of it. I believe it's a critically important subject (obviously).

    Jack, another verity which stands the test of time: when you let bullies bully you, you can bet your bottom dollar that more and worse bullying will follow! This is true when one is dealing with criminals, and it's equally true when one is dealing with lawyers. When they smell blood in the water, they start circling. Sadly, this country has afforded way too many victories to the lawyerly leftists. They think they can sue us into oblivion...and they may be right.

  5. Dr. Waddy from Jack: In a high school course I took on "Problems of Democracy" we were introduced to the concept of "the democratic wager". I believe it held that our democracy is a bet that it will be beneficial. On balance I think it is but we must fully acknowledge that we pay a heavy price for some of its protections.

    Immutable self seeking human nature guarantees that the unprincipled will game our Constitution and the legality for which it is the framework. When their cynical misuse becomes unbearable, eg. in abuse of tort law or Constitutional protection against self incrimination, then it is incumbent on America to initiate reform.

    A Constitutional convention? Heavens no, the antiamerican left would use its appalling power to firmly embody totalitarianism thereby. But the time has come for an incorporated Constitutional amendment offering some balance, some mitigation, for the intimidation inherent in the expenses and dread of prolix defense against lawsuit.

    The Fifth Amendent, as I understand it, was meant to prevent the use of the physical torture so customary in the 18th century. But again, naturally, most people facing possible conviction and punishment seek for any excuse. Malefactors whose guilt is manifest are far too often spared thereby to blithely victimize the more. Its time to acknowledge that we pay too heavy a price for such easily misused protection and to enact some sensible reform.

    It is time also to admit that the provision of extralegal excuse for criminal offense, based on controversial social and historical views, has rendered our country a crime infested miasma shamed before civilization for its pusillanimous countenance of the victimization of the law abiding public. Only political disempowerment of those who impose this counterintuition on America can mitigate it.. Eg,, again and emphatically, as Mayor Guiliani proved doable.

    I fully agree that a vicious and unprincipled faction of our legal profession enables this mockery of our well intended , monumental Constitution and the law it has endorsed. One hopeful example to counter them is to be seen in our now lawful Scotus.

  6. Jack, the overuse and misuse of the law to advance spurious agendas is a problem that has always plagued our republic, and seems to be escalating alarmingly of late. Do you really think there could be a constitutional remedy? What shape might it take?

  7. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Good question that. I'm going to think about it and respond anon.