I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this take from Reason TV’s Kennedy on the media reactions to the Jovan Belcher murder-suicide. I expected Reason to defend gun rights; I even expected them to insist that individuals are to blame for their own actions, not inanimate objects or “society.” I wasn’t quite prepared for an argument that we need to recognize that evil exists, and that attempts to pawn off blame for evil acts on anyone but the individual is a dangerous impulse, especially when used to ride political hobby horses to exhaustion.
Kudos to Reason and Kennedy:
Jovan Belcher’s suicide might have forced the question as to whether or not football has become too violent and punishing for its player, but killing his girlfriend elevates the action to something that cannot be justified by appeals to celebrity culture and pop psychology.
Or even readily explained by scientific research suggesting traumatic injury causes permanent brain damage and behavioral problems. Killing your girlfriend is not a “behavioral problem”, it is a horrific, evil, cowardly act that is morally wrong to try to either explain or excuse through the science of battered brains.
Yet everyone seemed to want to blame Belcher’s actions on something else. At CNN, former Democratic congressional candidate and Real World participant Kevin Powell talked about the problems of super-macho culture and the ready availability of guns. Bob Costas lost his nut when he turned the Jovan Belcher tragedy into an anti-gun rant. Costas has fallen further off the rails than Powell if he thinks a gun-free Belcher home would have also shown an absence of violence or murder.
Instead of immediately reaching for our nearest ideological hobby horse, let’s stipulate an ugly truth: Sometimes people are bad.
Brain injury did not pull the trigger that blew away both of Zoey Belcher’s parents one horrible Saturday morning. Jovan Belcher did, and for that he will rightly be remembered not as a big man, but as a bad man.
Let’s stipulate another truth: Evil exists. It cannot be fully explained by brain injury, psychology, or culture. People can choose to do evil acts without any of those issues being determining factors. We do not need to disarm the 99.9% of law-abiding gun owners in America in an attempt to refuse to acknowledge those simple facts.