The third rail in commentary on the recent mass murder is of course the one I touched the other day in my “Spirit of Self-Defense” post. This issue is: Have cultural changes moved us too far from the old American ideals of self-reliance and self-defense, towards a more “European” style of responding to crises by waiting passively for the authorities to do something? Seems to me this is a perfectly valid topic for discussion, as are corollary questions like: Supposing the older ideal was still dominant, would it have made a difference in this particular case? Not many people have gone near the third rail, though, for fear of being accused of “blaming the victims”–one of those cant phrases that, while it doesn’t actually mean anything, carries a big emotional load, almost entirely on the political Left–the home of victimology. The fearless Mark Steyn took a break from trying to think up recipes involving Brussels sprouts and matzoh balls to take a swing at the topic here on NRO yesterday. Michelle Malkin and Glenn Reynolds have written well on the Second Amendment aspect of the business. If these are not fair topics for discussion, I wish someone would tell me why. What a great many people want to tell me (and Michelle, too–see her blog–and I assume Mark also) is that I am a four-letter word who needs shooting myself. Possibly this is true; but if something has gone wrong in our culture, and if that something might have contributed to the Va. Tech. death toll, that needs talking about. I’d very much like to read what Jonah Goldberg thinks about this. His brief article titled “One Vast College Campus” in the April 2 NRODT seems highly relevant–even, in a way I can’t quite put my finger on, clairvoyant. Jonah?