“We must reject the idea that every time a law’s broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions.”
Since October 16, 1991, when a man shot 23 people dead in a restaurant in Killeen, Texas, then killed himself, a total of 203 people have been shot to death in 16 mass murders. That number doesn’t include people killed by mass murderers who used poison, or weapons other than guns, such as knives, or fires. Together, those numbers range into the thousands.
How many of them, other than Dylann Roof in Charleston last week, were pictured with the Confederate battle flag or had it in their possession? None.
An article on the Naked Law website points out 11 characteristics of mass murderers and serial killers. 1. Ninety percent are white males, usually from a lower or middle class upbringing. 2. Most are in their 20’s or 30’s. 3. Most are single or divorced. 4. As a child, most of them tortured animals. 5. More than 60 percent wet the bed beyond the age of 12. 6. Many are obsessed with starting fires. 7. Many have an extraordinarily high IQ. 8. Most come from a dysfunctional family with an absent father. 9. Many suffered childhood abuse. 10. Most have some type of history of suicide attempts. 11. They are often loners.
Notice anything about those characteristics? None of them mentioned having an affinity for the Confederate battle flag. Nor is the flag or what some misguided souls believe it stands for even mentioned among the characteristics.
Unfortunately, we have become a society of blamers. Every time something bad happens, we look for someone or something to blame it on. This time it happens to be the Confederate battle flag, and anything associated with the Confederacy, including memorabilia, statues (There have been calls to remove statues of Southern legislators from the capitol in Washington and from the parks in Savannah.), cars (Warner Bros. said it will no longer make the “General Lee” car for Dukes of Hazzard movies), and even holidays (One black Georgia legislator says he will sponsor a bill to eliminate any holiday associated with the Confederacy. Georgia currently still recognizes Confederate Memorial Day.). I’m sure some people will probably want the War Between the States taken out of the history books. All because one young white man with a gun killed nine black people in a church in Charleston.
Where will it stop? What part of society would we be blaming if it had been a young black man killing nine white people in a church in Charleston? Would we be calling for the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. in Washington to be torn down? Would we be calling for an end to Black History Month?
What happens the next time someone kills a bunch of people and the shooter is found with car tags and jacket patches and photos of the American flag, or the Gay Rights rainbow flag, or the Christian flag, or the black American flag, or any of the other flags? Are we going to take down those flags and anything associated with them?
We need to stop blaming society for our problems and start placing the blame where it belongs – on the people committing the crimes. The Confederate battle flag did not kill those nine people in Charleston. Flags are just pieces of cloth. They don’t kill people. People kill people. As Ronald Reagan said, “It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his action.”
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.