Monday, October 02, 2006

The Close-knit Community

Recently there was a tragic shooting in a Colorado school. No, not that one. Another one. Some drifter with a gun came in, took hostages and shot a young woman to death. Truly disgraceful. And if you're an East Coast liberal, you're thinking "gun control".

Sure. But this post is about something else. It's about the kind of places where that sort of stuff happens. We know that kind of place here in the Northeast. It used to be us. Remember crime? We don't have so much of it anymore. Why not? Could be the bigger prisons. Or the relative wealth. Or gun control, not sure.

But whenever a small, mainly white, non-Eastern Seaboard, non-California town witnesses a senseless act of mayhem, the press rallies 'round them and calls them "close-knit". Have you noticed? "This close-knit mountain town." "This close-knit farming community."

My question is: if those places were so close-knit, how'd the drifter get into the school? How'd he get the gun? How'd those kids plan the rampage? Was it in one of the prayer-meetings? Or maybe it was during one of the Republican caucuses down at the Rotary.

The fact is, the far-flung suburbs in the Midwest and west are some of the most alienating communities on earth. They are close knit they way the Kuyper Belt is close to the sun. Neighbors never see one-another except in cars or at the mall. They think praying for an hour in some architecturally depressing airplane hangar of a church, and being self-congratulatory for having voted for Family Values, is the equivalent of being friends. The fact is, folks in those places don't really like other folks. That's why they live so far from one another. Also, they think guns are loads of fun. How close-knit is that?

Next time there's a tragic shooting in a grassy, highway-connected community and the media calls it "close-knit", understand that the reason they're calling it that is because it is inconvenient for mainstream media to admit that the opposite is true. They'd have to admit that the vast majority of newer suburbs are unconnected places where people are deeply lonesome, where the gun lobby runs the legislature, and where drifters roam around killing poeple with guns. They'd have to do a story that would shock their viewers and maybe make them think: about how random violence isn't despite the local culture, but because of it.


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