Obama's tears won't stop the slaughter
09:39 GMT, 17 December 2012
The latest firearm atrocity in America — 20 small children and six adults shot to death by a suicidal 20-year-old ‘loner’, Adam Lanza — is attended by the usual hand-wringing debate about gun control.
Those who seek new restraints — particularly on automatic, rapid-firing weapons — say: ‘If not now, when’
But those against gun control quote the 2nd Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which confers the right to possess arms, and parrot the old argument that ‘people, not guns, kill people’.
Political momentum Following the tragic events of Sandy Hook on Friday, protestors against the right to possess arms have taken to the White House to get their message heard
A tearful President Obama said on TV: ‘We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.’ He’s unlikely to get far.
It’s estimated that about 50 per cent of the world’s guns are in America, which, with Canada, has about 5 per cent of the global population. More than 90,000 Americans have been shot so far this year and there have been 231 shootings in which four or more people have died over the past three years.
The question isn’t ‘why are Americans allowed to own lethal firearms’ Guns are available in other ‘civilised’ nations which do not have mass shootings. It is: ‘Why are Americans so prone to shooting each other Are they mad’
Emotional: A tearful President Obama said on TV: 'We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this'
How otherwise would you describe people who — despite regular, bloody atrocities, often against children — refuse to demand proper control of guns since they evidently cannot control their homicidal enthusiasm for using them against innocent strangers, or their own families
Most of the shooters — including Lanza — are described as having mental problems. It’s tempting to think that, as a people, Americans collectively are mad in the sense that they blindly follow a gun tradition that threatens their day-to-day existence and puts them outside the pale of civilised nations.
Yet there can be few nations where citizens focus so closely on their feelings. Psychiatry in America is almost as common as visits to the doctor’s surgery here. American author Henry Miller said of U.S. psychiatry: ‘You can have your ego trimmed or removed, as you wish, just like a wart or bunion.’
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Was it an American who explained the difference between a neurotic, a psychotic, and a psychiatrist as, ‘the neurotic builds castles in the sky, the psychotic lives in them and the psychiatrist collects the rent’
Prize-winning U.S. medical writer Robert Whitaker said in his 2002 history of the severely mentally ill in the U.S. from colonial times — Mad In America — that long-term use of Thorazine and other anti-psychotic medications by those diagnosed with schizophrenia caused them to become chronically ill.
Expressions of shock or distaste from overseas about this odious aspect of their culture won’t change American minds. They believe they are out of the ordinary. They even have a phrase for it: ‘American exceptionalism.’
They are taught that their post-Revolution society — their ‘shining-white city on the hill’ — is superior to others in that it has a world mission to spread liberty and democracy.
An alternative view came from a French paper, La Libert, during the Presidency of Herbert Hoover (1929-1933): ‘Americans are the only race which passed directly from barbarism to decadence without knowing civilisation.’
U.S. novelist Edith Wharton (1862-1937) is likely to have agreed. She said of her nation: ‘How much longer are we going to think it necessary to be “American” before being cultivated, being enlightened, being humane, and having the same intellectual discipline as other civilised countries’
When five members of the Connors ‘travellers’ family were convicted last week of keeping ‘slaves’ in squalor, paying them a pittance and treating them cruelly, there was ‘screaming and uproar’ from relatives in the public gallery of Bristol Crown Court.
No doubt there will be a repeat performance tomorrow when they’re sentenced.
Do they consider the Connors innocent — or is it that, as travellers, they are outside the laws which the rest of us have to observe
Detective novelist Lee Child’s fictional hero Jack Reacher is described as 6ft 5in tall and intimidating. In the words of a female friend, he’s ‘like a condom full of walnuts’. Hardly how you would describe handsome, dainty Tom Cruise, due to bring Jack Reacher to UK cinemas on Boxing Day. But the actor says: ‘I just didn’t worry about it. I looked at the book and I thought “This is a character.”’
Author Child seems happy with the choice of Cruise, too. He told the International Herald Tribune: ‘If they screwed up, I would burn their house down.’ As Jack himself might say.
Understudy Could Heidi Range from Sugababes fame take Posh Spice's place
Like many, I am brooding about the
rumoured reunion of the Spice Girls minus Victoria Beckham, otherwise
known as Posh Spice. Could the other Spices hire another singer and
introduce her as New Spice, without legal sanction from Ms Beckham No
doubt shiny-suited showbiz lawyers salivate at the prospect.
As I understand it, Posh was the nickname given to Victoria by the other Spices. So does she own it It’s always used in a derogatory sense. The Guardian’s learned film critic, Peter Bradshaw, once wrote an article — ‘Posh Is she ****!’ — suggesting Victoria was common. So perhaps she’d welcome Sugababes star Heidi Range (pictured), the Liverpudlian mooted to be taking on the role.
An heir of self-importance
Moving on Stevens has repeatedly hinted that he finds Downton's plot twists too lowbrow
Dan Stevens, who plays Downton Abbey’s rather dull heir presumptive Matthew Crawley, is said to find the ITV serial’s plots ‘too lowbrow’ and may leave soon.
Some think he yearns to make it big in America, where he is pictured in Town & Country magazine’s January issue in a 4,600 suit, 1,500 overcoat, 600 shirt and 400 shoes (which its stylists provided), sitting at the wheel of a Mercedes conver-tible, ditto.
Reputedly fluent in French and German, and something of a literatteur, Stevens is living in Manhattan with his wife, Susie, and their son and daughter while appearing in the Broadway play, The Heiress.
Downton’s gifted creator, Julian Fellowes, shouldn’t stand in Dan’s way if he wants to leave. Writing him out of the show (hopefully in spectacular fashion) would create a host of new romantic plot lines involving his gorgeous, pouting widow, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery). Who, since having an earlier lover expire in her boudoir, has been far too goody-two-shoes for my liking.
Tragic: Eva Rausing
Multi-millionaire Tetra Pak heir and
druggie Hans Rausing, who hid the decomposing body of his wife, Eva,
for three months under 12 layers of blankets and clothes at their
70 million London mansion after she died of a cocaine overdose, was
accompanied to Westminster Coroner’s Court by a troupe of PR officials
and lawyers, including the PM’s brother, Alex Cameron QC.
She might still be rotting there now
if Rausing hadn’t been stopped by police while driving his Bristol
sports car erratically. He was convicted of preventing her lawful burial
and given a suspended, ten-month jail term. Without the Rausing money,
contacts and lawyers, wouldn’t he have received a stiffer sentence
The late ‘silent reporter’ Brendan Mulholland refused to tell the Vassall Tribunal in 1963 where he got information about homosexual Naval Intelligence clerk and spy John Christopher Vassall — and was given a six-month jail sentence for his pains.
Now Brendan is shabbily dishonoured by historian and literary biographer Richard Davenport-Hines in his new book, An English Affair.
He says the Mail’s Mulholland and Daily Sketch’s Reg Foster ‘went to prison masquerading as martyrs in the sacred cause of Press freedom; but the truth is they did not want to admit that they were liars who had invented their stories’.
I never met Foster but knew Mulholland well. He was a gentle, kindly man and I never heard anyone — not even newspaper rivals — suggest he invented stories about Vassall. Neither did he nor Foster pose as heroic martyrs.
Yet Davenport-Hines says: ‘Fleet Street turned them (Mulholland and Foster) into figures of heroic probity, extolling their moral courage in defending high principles, and went gunning for Macmillan’s government in revenge attacks.’
Vassall sold vital secrets, causing immense damage, after being lured into a sordid Soviet honey trap. The rotten-to-the-core Macmillian government deserved everything that came its way.
But perhaps Davenport-Hines, in portraying them as victims, is banking on a post-Leveson hatred of the Press.