A gunman mows down scores of people in a cinema in Denver, Colorado, after lobbing a couple of tear-gas grenades to get |them running in a panic. They had been at the premiere of a Batman movie.
The US has an extraordinary capacity to combine the horrific with the banal.
The gunman had military-type automatic weapons of a sort that could have no lawful application in a civilian setting. Yet he was able to buy them over the counter in a store, no questions asked.
It’s as astonishing as it is appalling. The lobby against the US’s bizarre gun laws – which amount to non-laws saying: “Mind your own business, it’s the citizen’s right to bear arms” – has been activated yet again.
Yet nobody seems to look at the other side of the equation. What role does the digitalised mayhem of the PlayStation have? Where, from the earliest age, children are exposed not just to Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, but to conflict with a range of monsters and hobgoblins. Where the objective is to destroy – Zap! Zap! Zap!
What kind of reality do such people grow up in?
It’s surely just a shortish step to oneself becoming The Joker with an automatic weapon in a crowded cinema.
Who ever heard of anyone running amok after reading Robinson Crusoe, Treasure Island or Ivanhoe?
Almost inevitably, the Denver atrocity is being talked up into |an election issue. But it’s really a non-issue.
Even if President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney were to publicly agree that the US’s gun laws need overhauling and that they would each work for it, whatever the election outcome, not much would happen.
The US doesn’t have a House of Commons that can simply enact a law controlling gun ownership.
The citizen’s right to bear arms is written into the constitution.
And it’s the constituent states|of the US that actually decide |just what their gun laws should|be.
To override them is near-impossible.
Let’s not even talk about the powerful Gun Lobby.
So stand by for more horror, more banality.
It’s a three-way match at the Oval between England, SA and the clerk of the weather. The smart money is on the clerk.
It’s also the start of a series |to decide which is the world’s |top Test cricket side.
Some would say it’s between South Africa A and South Africa B.
Some would also say it’s to decide who is South Africa A and who is South Africa B.
Investment analyst James Greener is not exactly bowled over by the growing accord with China. Nor, in his latest grumpy newsletter, is he impressed by the constant jetting about.
“It’s a pity that the air force VIP transportation unit don’t award air miles to loyal and frequent flyers. Our Pres JZ would have bucketloads of them by now and might be able to take all the wives along on his jaunts instead of having to choose just one each time.
“This week he went off to China to bow very low to their President Hu Jintao before renewing the invitation for them to attend |our forthcoming R3.2-trillion infrastructure programme. BYOC (bring your own cash).
“Apparently the official |view is that the presence of a Chinese supermarket in every country village, selling plastic bowls and T-shirts, is a ‘good sort’ of foreign presence, compared to the previous invaders during the past 400 years who merely brought development.”
A golfer accidentally overturns his cart.
A beautiful girl living on the golf estate rushes out to help him. “Come to my villa, rest up and I’ll help you get the cart up later.”
“That’s mighty nice of you, but I don’t think my wife would like it.”
“Aw, come on.”
“Well, okay. But my wife won’t like it.”
After a few drinks one thing leads to another and they wind up in bed making passionate love. Then he kisses her on the cheek and gets dressed.
“I feel a lot better now, but I know my wife is going to be real upset.”
“Don’t be silly, she won’t know anything. Where is she anyway?”
“Under the cart.”
They used to photograph Shirley Temple through gauze. They should photograph me through linoleum. – Tallulah Bankhead
* E-mail Mercidler@inl.co.za. Letters PO Box 47549, Durban, 4000. Fax 031 308 2333