The Corner

Krauthammer’s Take

From Special Report with Bret Baier | Friday July 20, 2012

On the rampage Friday morning that killed a dozen people at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater:

I’m sure people like to draw implications and look to society [as the cause]…. Remember when we had a shooting in Tucson people began to level accusations at people in politics, [particularly the] tea party. We even had a false report this morning on ABC of a connection to the tea party, which is not only scandalous, but stupid. Why would you even look in that direction?

But I think we are now — to the extent [there] will be a political side to this — people will talk about the gun control. The one thing we never speak about is the way that we treat the mentally ill and dangerous people. It seems to me that the numbers you cited [of mass killings], that’s a pretty large number. That’s more than two a year of these since Columbine. I don’t know if records were kept 50 years ago, but that sounds like a lot.

And over time, over the decades, our gun control laws have gotten more tight and more strict. At the same time, how we treat the mentally ill has gotten far more lenient and loose. Now, for good reason — we don’t want to commit people willy-nilly. We believe in civil liberties. But, on the other hand, there’s always a risk. The threshold for committing people to a psychiatric facility on the basis of dangerousness has risen over the decades. I would commit people myself in the ’70s when I was a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. But since then, the threshold, how difficult it is, has risen, and you end up with people on the street [that] 100 years ago, 50 years ago, would now be in institutions.

I’m not leveling blame at anybody, but I’m saying as a society, we made a decision, to take the risk of tragedy in order to ensure civil liberties. It’s a difficult, difficult choice.

Jared Loughner, the guy in Tucson, was [clearly] psychotic from the way he spoke. This guy [in Aurora] seems more organized — the way he did the shooting. He had it all organized. There was a lot of thinking, premeditation, armor and the theater of it. I’m not sure he is a raving psychotic. But clearly, if there were no accomplices, and I can’t immagine there is political or ideological [motive], this is an expression of something unusual. Obviously there is a mental illness here and we’ll determine what is it with further examinations.

On what will follow Bashar al-Assad’s fall or expulsion:

The problem with a quick ending here is that the entire Alawite community– a sectarian [fraction of] 10 percent of Syria, which ruled ruthlessly over 90 percent for half a century– understands if it loses, it’s wiped out. It’s got nowhere to go. I think [the civil war] will go on longer because they [the Allawites] have nowhere to go. This is a desperate fight — for them — to the finish. Either they stay in power or they are massacred.

On how Israel will respond to last week’s Iranian-orchestrated  bombing of a Bulgarian tour bus that killed five Israeli tourists:

I think Israel will do what it does in these circumstances, track down people involved, Hezbollah, Iranians, and they will kill them around the world. But not a major attack on Iran…. It will happen clandestinely. That’s what the Israelis do rather well.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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