Fighting Fire With More Fire

Stephen Irvine, 26 July 2012

Every now and then, dear readers, those who find themselves in the most pleasurable and privileged of positions are unceremoniously cast off and cut back down to size; relegated to a spot amongst the rabblement, jostled and jockeyed into the heart of the stinking throng and ushered along on a drowning tide of greasy hair, unwashed clothes and impatience. There’s nothing to be gained from looking back to your lofty perch now, there’s no beautiful figure, silhouetted against the sunlight and offering a helping hand out of the slime – there’s no colour in this place and the only thing for it is to huddle down in the margins and hope for some magic.

I can well imagine that this is how our fine audience must be feeling in the recent absence of Ian, something of a mentor and inspiration to me as well as the acclaimed directeur artistique of this particular site, and his is an absence that I, for one, have felt particularly keenly. In-keeping with the solemnity of my mood, the usual flirtation with vaguely irritating news stories and gutter-media rhetoric is this week replaced by a far weightier theme, as the USA deals with yet another mass shooting by a disaffected loony.

Clearly suffering with pretty major malfunctions in the think-cabinet, 24 year-old James Holmes is the man responsible for the slaying of 12 people and injuring of a further 58 at a screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, as well as booby-trapping his apartment with explosives before embarking on this darkest of missions. However, it’s not the killer, his crazed pseudo-military tactics or his warped motives that are interesting here – I intend to have no part in the building of a cult or legend around this kind of cheese-head – but rather the fall-out from these dreadful events and the reaction of the American public to the news of the shootings.

Of course this has reopened the debate about US gun laws, and of particular note are figures released by the Colorado Bureau of Investigations this week, revealing that the number of people in the state successfully applying for a licence to buy a firearm was up 43% on the weekend immediately following the shooting in comparison with the previous weekend. The grand total of people approved to arm themselves therefore came in at a whopping 2,887 from Friday 20th –Sunday 22nd July, with the murders having taking place in the early hours of Friday 20th.

The prevailing attitude is therefore one of ‘we want to be able to protect ourselves and our loved ones’ if ever such a situation arises, but reacting to mass shootings by flooding the state with yet more weapons just seems insane. Sensibly, Barrack Obama has called for a review of the gun laws, claiming that assault weapons ‘do not belong on our streets’ – and it’s amazing to think that this is being reported as an election risk rather than a golden ticket for a President aiming for another term.

Surely a growing attitude of vigilante justice being the way forward will only lead to further atrocities with the simple equation being that the more weapons there are amongst the community, the higher the chances of them falling into dangerous hands. Fighting fire with fire is a draconian attitude at best and one that can only lead to further deaths – would Americans react to being bitten by a dog by shitting on the pavement, barking and filing their own teeth into a sharp point should such a confrontation ever arise again? Quite possibly I suppose in some parts of the country…

That’s enough from me anyway, as I leave you to ponder the madness across the pond and we can only hope the gun laws finally get the makeover they need, though I won’t be holding out too much hope. It’s time for me to hunker back down in the shadows anyway as I continue to wait for the magic that will save me – has anybody seen Ian?