It’s become a consistent pattern, after every act of mass violence, for the media to hold a “What Could Have Been Done To Prevent This?” session — what in sports is called Monday Morning Quarterbacking. At least in sports there are defined rules to the game, so trying to analyze what different player moves might have produced a different outcome isn’t entirely ridiculous.

Jared Lee Laughner
Jared Lee Loughner

What do we hear from the Pundit Class about Jared Lee Loughner, whose assassination attempt last Saturday on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords so far has failed, but nonetheless succeeded in wounding 18 others, six of them fatally?

We hear, of course, the obvious: that Loughner was troubled, confused, mentally ill.

We hear reports that Jared Loughner had enough run-ins with campus police when he was a student at Pima Community College that he was banned from campus unless he gave the college a psychiatrist’s letter declaring him mentally stable.

We hear reports that Loughner’s own parents were concerned with his behavior.

And, we hear lamentations that the FBI background check that cleared Jared Lee Loughner for legal purchase of the handgun he used in his rampage needs to somehow filter out unstable and potentially dangerous people from purchasing firearms.

Some better-thinking pundits do note that our legal system is set up on the premise of not treating someone as a criminal until they are convicted of a crime. Then the psychiatric aristocracy — with perhaps the best example being Charles Krauthammer — note that laws are often in place that allow for police to put someone into psychiatric evaluation for three days … and it’s with a nostalgic sigh that they often go on to note that before budget cuts made it impractical all it used to take to commit anyone to a mental hospital for an indefinite stay was any licensed doctor’s signature. The Nostalgic Psychiatrists don’t note that such a power to imprison at will grants doctors Gestapo-like powers to bypass an entire law-based system of arrest, accusation, bail, indictment, prosecution, conviction, and sentencing — all with various constitutional protections and rights — before depriving a human being of his liberty.

We hear in other political debates doctors lamenting how malpractice lawsuits and the expense of malpractice insurance is one of the major factors raising the cost of health care. So, any doctor signing a commitment order — or failing to sign a commitment order — is between a rock and a hard place. If they commit someone without cause, they could be subject to a lawsuit for unlawful deprivation of civil liberties. But if they make an examination of someone to consider psychiatric commitment, and don’t, then if that person subsequently harms someone else, the doctor is now liable for failing to protect the victim of that attack. That’s a really good reason for doctors not to want that responsibility thrust upon them again. People just weren’t so darned litigious back when involuntary psychiatric commitment wasn’t a budget-buster.

But here’s what no pundit — and I mean nobody — is saying.

It’s that the nature of the human being is to have free will. Whether given by God, or simply by the nature of the abstract epistemological disconnect between perception and reality — what Alfred Korzybski once called the difference between the map and the territory — human beings have free will. That means at any given moment, no matter what the prior background and personal history, every single human being — all seven billion of us — is utterly unpredictable.

As utterly unpredictable as whether in a classic quantum-mechanics thought experiment Schrödinger’s cat is alive or dead.

It’s actually this utter unpredictability that raises the blood pressure of the political class after every incident. Since they know everybody around them is an accident waiting to happen, the only sense of security they can have is to figure out new and better ways to watch everybody at all times and — if possible — neuter and declaw us all.

The only safe air travel, as far as the Politically Nervous is concerned — would be Con Air — transporting every passenger in handcuffs and leg irons.

The only safe contact the Politically Nervous want with the public would be if we’ve all had full body cavity searches then let into their presence only in transparent pajamas — again with the handcuffs and leg irons.

You ever see a movie with a prisoner being walked from the holding cell to the execution chamber? That’s the only way the Politically Nervous can feel comfortable with any of us: utterly chained, controlled, and powerless.

Of course they can’t get all the security they want, so they have to make do with air passengers being contestants on the TSA’s new game show: Radiation or Rape?

No doctor, no sheriff, no parole board – not even a psychic medium — can put his signature on a document guaranteeing who among us is “safe.” Maybe someone in a persistent coma or a vegetative state, that’s about it. Even sleepers sometimes sleepwalk. With new electronic mind-reading technology as demonstrated by the game Mindflex we’re not very far from someone in handcuffs and leg irons being able to pull the trigger on a gun.

When all is said and done, the problem with Jared Lee Loughner is that he’s human.

God help us all.

This article is Copyright © 2011 The J. Neil Schulman Living Trust. All rights reserved.

My comic thriller Lady Magdalene’s — a movie I wrote, produced, directed, and acted in it — is now available for sale or rental on Video On Demand. If you like the way I think, I think you’ll like this movie. Check it out!

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