Saturday, July 23, 2011

“Jennifer’s Law” and the Terrors of Terrorism

I look at the Norwegian government with a twinge of envy, wishing my own showed the same sensible restraint. The terrorist attack in Norway yesterday was monstrous – 92 confirmed dead as I type this, and the number might rise higher – but today, Norway’s prime minister said the country will not raise its terrorist “threat level” over this.

Norway understands what the United States refuses to admit: isolated freak incidents happen, and perfect safety from them is impossible, but you don’t throw out every ideal your country once stood for the first time you suffer an anomaly. Of course, Norway’s government has not embarked on a ten-year-long spree of seeking out excuses to take away the legal rights of its citizens, either.

I’m typing this in my apartment, near a window. That window, like almost every window in every private home in America, is made of ordinary rather than bulletproof glass. And as I look through the window onto the street, I know it’s perfectly possible for someone standing in that street to look back at me, and even aim a rifle through my window, and shoot and kill me.

This hypothetical psychopath wishing to harm me wouldn’t even need a gun; a guy with a big enough rock could lob it through my window and cause major damage. If the rock itself didn’t hurt me, the broken window’s various sharp shards of glass might.

Should I live with this threat, or eradicate it by any means necessary? It’s unlikely but not impossible; it’s surely happened already, somewhere in the United States. With a population of over 320 million, even a one-in-a-million event will happen somewhere in this country 320 times this year. And I’d bet money that somewhere in the US, people have been killed in their own homes after a bullet or other projectile flew through their closed window.

Suppose it happened here. Now. To me. Some freak walks down my street shooting through windows, kills me, maims the guy next door, blinds a child in the next house over, and kills three more people on my street before finally turning the gun on himself.

In Norway, the prime minister would view this as the freak crime it is. In the United States, the government would raise the terrorist threat level, and Janet Napolitano would have TSA guards in residential neighborhoods giving genital patdowns to passing pedestrians to ensure they had nothing capable of breaking windows hidden in their underwear, and pandering congressmen with support from the glaziers’ lobby would argue for the passage of “Jennifer’s Law” mandating all residential windows be made of bulletproof safety glass. (The law would be named after me rather than any of the other three people who died in the shooting spree because I am – was – a cute white female, whereas the other three victims were males. Or minorities. Or ugly, or something. They weren't cute white females, so who cares?)

My fellow Americans, we must remember what Norway forgot: the purpose of terrorist acts, by definition, is to make people feel “terrified,” and it is our patriotic duty to help the terrorists win by allowing pants-soiling terror to shape our legal and our thought processes. Why is Norway’s prime minister letting this opportunity slip through his fingers? It’s almost like the Norwegian government thinks “a free country” is too worthwhile an ideal to toss out their non-bulletproof window.


Anonymous NoStar said...

In the tradition of Abraham Lincoln: Forget principles, The Union must be saved at ALL costs.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Lisa Simeone said...

Brava, Jennifer!

This is what a leader says. A sane leader. Something we haven't had in this country in god knows how long:

Stoltenberg appealed to Norwegians not to be cowed. "Co-workers have lost their lives today. It's frightening," he told the broadcaster NRK. "That's not how we want things in our country.
"But it's important that we don't let ourselves be scared. Because the purpose of that kind of violence is to create fear."

5:07 AM  

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