The Price of Freedom

Now that a respectful amount of time has passed, here is my obligatory post on the Sandy Hook massacres. May God take His children to rest in His grace.

As is usual for these types of events, most seem to want a convenient scapegoat for the massacre.

Guns are easy to blame, but tools have no volition of their own.

Some blame mental illness, but only the perpetrator’s psychologist can possibly speak to that. Mental illness might explain some of it (or it might not, I’m no psychologist) but most mentally ill people do not shoot up a school.

Some blame cultural entertainment products: violent video games, movies, etc. Although, I’ve seen less of it this time around than when Columbine occurred, it’s still as silly as it was then.

Some blame the media for giving fame to losers. While achieving infamy may be a contributing reason to public violence, this again strips the perpetrator of their own volition and begs the question: why did the perpetrator choose to pursue infamy over the lives of others and continued living?

Some blame the sidelining of males, while others blame the loss of male privilege. I’ve warned about this trend in the past, but it only shows a trend; most males do not engage in such nihilistic violence.

Essentially, it seems everybody uses these kind of events to simply confirm the validity of their pre-existing bugaboos. I am guilty of this as well.

In the end, I think the most likely societal explanation is simple probability. In any society of 300+ million people, there will be some people at the nihilistic violence end of the bell-curve. This is not a societal trend, it is simply probabilistic reality.


Instead of looking for some great cause to blame, let’s put the blame where it belongs: the perpetrator.

Adam Lanza was a free individual, with his own will. and his own moral decisions to make.

He made them.

People have their own values, their own goals, their own choices to make.

They have agency, they are not simply the products of culture. People, even the mentally ill, are not empty cyphers of whatever societal trend we fear. They are human they make choices.

We should not dehumanize them.

We should not dehumanize Adam Lanza.

He made his choice.

Adam Lanza chose to shoot his mother, little Emilie Parker, baseball fan Jack Pinto, young Dylan Hockley, and 25 other individuals, may they rest in God’s peace.

Adam Lanza saw the mother who raised him and killed her. He saw the innocence of young ones and decided to snuff it out.

He chose to end dozens of young lives and destroy hundreds more.

Societal forces didn’t kill these people, Adam Lanza did.


If we look at all the great causes, no matter which it is, the “answer” is always the same: less freedom.

Guns are deadly: ban them and take them from law-abiding citizens.

The mentally ill are dangerous: lock them up against their will and drug them.

The entertainment and cultural industry is perverse and degenerate: institute content controls.

The media are vicious, amoral, parasitical vultures: regulate the press.

Males are losing their place in society: re-institute enforced patriarchy.

Males are angry at their loss of privilege: indoctrinate them further.

And on and on.

One person in 300+ million* commits a heinous act and everybody cries for the upending of society, for the expanded regulation of behaviour of other people. (Funny how it’s always other people that have to be regulated).

Because of these extreme, outside the normal events, everybody must be controlled. Somebody must do something to prevent these future black swans.

Something must be done, the government has to act. We have no idea what specific actions, but do something, anything. We have no proof any of these suggested actions will be helpful, but do them anyway. We have no rational basis for believing any of these actions will actually prevent the next nihilistic individual from committing extreme violence, but action must be taken.

Please do something, anything so that the placebo can give me back my piece of mind.

I can’t rest unless I know someone better than me is actively looking like they are doing something that vaguely resembles protecting me from extremely low-probability danger.

Fie on that.

Nothing should be done.

Shut the hell up and stop using dead children as political pawns for your anti-freedom crusades.

Shut the hell up and stop letting your mindless fear and inability to control your own peace of mind dictate society.


School massacres and other mass acts of nihilistic violence have been occurring since before there was a public school system and have occurred in many different countries and cultures. They have occurred with firearms and without. They have occurred whatever regulations may or may not have been in place. This is not a problem solely of our time and culture. It is not a problem of our regulations or lack thereof. It is not a problem of whatever other bullshit pre-existing ideological war you want to fight on the graves of dead kids.

It is a problem of individuals.

Some individuals choose to do evil things.

Adam Lanza did.

Adam Lanza was free to choose, and choose he did.


Here is the thing we must understand:

Sandy Hook was the price of freedom.

The freedom to make choices is the freedom to make bad choices, to make evil choices.

The only way to eliminate bad choices, is to eliminate freedom.

It is horrifying, but it is reality.

The only way to stop another Sandy Hook is to completely give up our freedom, to submit ourselves wholly and completely to another’s control.

The only way to stop bad choices, is to completely remove the ability to make choices.

However horrible 28 deaths is, on a societal level the loss of freedom is even worse.

Freedom is naturally a frightening thing, the comfort of giving up our right to choose, to let others choose for us, can be tempting. Do not give into the fear.

Individuals should be free to make choices, even if those choices may be frightening and may lead to suffering.

Individuals should only be punished or controlled for bad choices once they have actually made them.

Anything else is tyranny.

Sandy Hook is the price of freedom, but it is a price that must be paid; the alternative, a world without freedom and choice, is worse.


* If we include others who’ve engaged in nihilistic acts of public mass violence, it’s probably “only” on the order of one in tens of millions. I’m not going to calculate exactly, but still one person out of a few dozen million is still a very low probablility occurance.


  1. The only flaw in your argument… most people are born slaves, who can’t and won’t understand freedom, and given a Democracy they’ll overwhelming vote for the shackles to be put back on. The stark world of personal responsibility makes them shiver.

  2. I like your blog a lot, but in this case I do disagree with the main thrust. Sure, you are totally right that this action was a result, ultimately of a choice to act. And sure, all the evidence in the world says that video games and music and all that other stuff really doesn’t cause people do become violent. Sometimes people just are. School shootings have been happening for a long time even in the most peaceful of places.

    But, you make the same mistake about guns that I think all pro-gun people do: they pretend that all guns are created equal (in fact all weapons), as though a knife is the same as a glock is the same as an AK 47. That is absurd.

    Two things have to be acknowledged: First, strictly controlling the use of assault weapons by civilians DOES reduce gun deaths, and prevents these mass shootings from being as “mass” as they are. This is just a fact that has been proven in many many democracies including Canada, Australia, the UK, and others.

    The second, and more important point, is that when you say “this is the price of freedom,” I have to ask you: Who gets the freedom, and who pays the price? Because here it looks like a bunch of assault weapon owners get their freedom, while two dozen kindergarten kids get to pay the price. You talk about freedom, but how about those kids’ freedom? I really mean that, I’m interested in what you think. Freedom is more complicated that having a govt. that just lets you do whatever the fuck you want so long as you’re not directly hurting people, and I think you are obfuscating that fact.

    Maybe it’s because I’m Canadian. I’m a conservative about most thing, but not about this. I hear pro-gun people talking about how the country would be safer if everyone carried a gun, or if cops were patrolling every school armed. That doesn’t make any sense to me. How many of them might decide to go Adam Lanza on our asses one day? If there had been a lone cop snoozing at the front door of that little, does anyone seriously think he’d have stopped a guy with an assault rifle and training in how to shoot it? Those kids deserved to have freedom as well, and they lost it because gun owners think the right to carry whatever the fuck weapon gets them off the most trumps all other rights. That makes me sad for American children, and glad to live in Canada.

  3. @ Aurini: I’m still not sure what to think about natural slaves. We either need more controls to disenfranchise them or maybe make a voluntary system for them to live in chains without effecting other people. Ideally, the US/Canadian federal system would allow some states/provinces to make laws geared towards natural slaves and other jurisdictions to live free, except the natural slaves keep using federal power to enforce their slave system.

    @ jsf: There is no proof that restricting weapons reduces violent crime; all the studies that have been done are inconclusive and contradictory, which would be the likely result if guns had no effect on crime. Norway has very strict gun controls; it did not stop Breivik’s shooting from being far deadlier than Sandy Hook or any other recent nihilistic violence in the US.

    Everybody gets the freedom; whoever happens to be unlucky pays the price. That’s the way freedom goes. Freedom to drink beer kills far more than guns, random children pay the price. Freedom is not more complicated than that. Either you live based on your own decisions, or the government runs your life.

    I’m Canadian to. Taber and Ecole Polytechnique showed the uselessness of our laws. Also, by Canadian conservatives giving in to the anti-freedom brigade so often, we’ve come to the point where this occurs:

  4. Thank you for the reply. I’m not necessarily advocating a banning of guns, perhaps not even the banning of assault weapons. But I don’t believe it is unreasonable at all, or in some way “anti-freedom” to want those kinds of weapons to be very well-regulated, so that there may be fewer of them, and fewer on the streets. You are right that it is about statistics, and you are right that no amount of gun laws will ever eliminate gun crime altogether or prevent every mass shooting. Brevik, in Norway, was an anomaly. In the states, mass shootings are no longer anomalies, but rather beginning to become the norm. But in the states, the correlation between the sheer number of guns (300 million last I heard) circulating around, and the number of gun deaths whether by murder or accident, just can’t be ignored. Only in America do we see things like this number, from AP News today:

    “Between 2006 and 2010, 561 children under 12 were killed by firearms, according to the FBI’s most recent Uniform Crime Reports. The numbers each year are consistent: 120 in 2006; 115 in 2007; 116 in 2008, 114 in 2009 and 96 in 2010. The FBI’s count does not include gun-related child deaths that authorities have ruled accidental.”

    No other western democracy even comes close to triple digits looking at the same numbers, let alone more than 500. And you can bet the number of accidental gun deaths makes that number much much higher. You and I don’t disagree about the value of personal freedoms and personal responsibility, truly. But I do see freedom in a different way, because those kids never even had the chance to grow up and enjoy the freedoms the rest of us have. Surely, at some point, the number of children’s lives lost and families destroyed becomes large enough for us to say that there is a net decrease in freedom, if that makes sense. I just think that threshold has already been crosses in America. Anyway thanks for reading. Again, I enjoy your blog greatly. Cheers.

  5. 100 per year out of ~76 million American children is 1 in 760,000. This is not exactly an epidemic.

    You don’t see numbers like that in other Western democracies, because the US is many times larger than other Western nations. The US is almost 4 times larger than Germany, the largest of them.

    Also, the use of gun crimes rather than just plain crimes distorts the true picture. There are substitute goods for murder and violence that can replace guns.

    I don’t think there is a threshold. Freedom either is or isn’t.

    Nobody thinks they’re being anti-freedom when they are limiting freedoms. There are always “good” reasons for limiting them. But “good” reasons are not good enough.

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