Can DNA Kill? Part 1 of 2

We’ve all heard about the tragic shooting in the Newtown, CT school in late 2012. There were numerous such events before then, and—let’s face it—there will be more in the future.

Everybody looks for the single answer to prevent any such event from happening ever again.

Good intentions? Maybe. But truly good intentions are responsible, rational and based on facts.

The desperate rush to ban all guns—or better yet, ban ammunition without banning guns—illustrates not only the lack of concern for individual rights, but also lack of concern for solving problems in a rational manner.

Even science gets into the act. ‘There must be a strain of DNA which causes this. If that strain can be detected—and immediately eradicated—why then, by George, we’ll have ended crime for good!’

Do people hear the absurdity they’re uttering or considering as serious intellectual discussion, so long as it’s uttered with the superficial sobriety of CNN, ABC or NBC?

Consider this headline: ‘School Shooter’s DNA to be studied,’ ABC News online 12/26/12.

The story states: Geneticists have been asked to study the DNA of Adam Lanza, the Connecticut man whose shooting rampage killed 27 people, including an entire first grade class. The study, which experts believe may be the first of its kind, is expected to be looking for abnormalities or mutations in Lanza’s DNA.

Connecticut Medical Examiner H. Wayne Carver has reached out to University of Connecticut’s geneticists to conduct the study. University of Connecticut spokesperson Tom Green says Carver ‘has asked for help from our department of genetics’ and they are ‘willing to give any assistance they can.’

Just like that, it’s taken for granted that biology alone determines evil.

When Hitler and the Nazis suggested such a thing, it was rightly called racist. Hitler and the Nazis believed that blue-eyed Germans were genetically and morally superior, while others, such as the Jews, were genetically and morally inferior.

Nobody in serious society is suggesting that today, because it would be blatantly racist.

But what about the lack of science in such a claim?

What about the absurd simplicity in suggesting that DNA can make a person kill?

Why, by ignoring any other factor, suggest that the killer’s values (or lack thereof), his ideas and his basic driving attitude about life have nothing to do with his emotional condition and life choices? And that these things are absorbed and chosen, as one’s own, usually starting in young adulthood—for better or worse?

The story continues: This seems to be the first time a study of this nature has been conducted, but it raises concerns in some geneticists and others in the field that there could be a stigma attached to people with these genetic characteristics if they are able to be narrowed down.

You think?

It’s the same premise as the Nazis, but most people won’t see this. Most people believe that the essence of Nazism was racism—in this case, the alleged superiority of Aryan whites versus non-Aryans. Of course Nazism was racism, and this was part of its irrationality and ultimate evil.

But racism was not the fundamental essence of Nazism. The essence of Nazism was the idea that individuals do not possess free will. Without this more basic idea, it’s not possible for Nazism (or any other irrational ideology) to move on to claim that a particular race is superior to another, and that this ‘fact’ therefore must be allowed to override freedom and individual rights.

In the United States today, you won’t be taken seriously if you attempt to advance a Nazi agenda. But you are taken seriously if you attempt to advance the more fundamental
idea upon which Nazism or racism depends: determinism.

Determinism refers to the idea that human beings do not possess free will, or that if they do, its impact is minimal and unimportant.

It’s interesting to note that determinism is the underlying theory of socialism. Socialism is the political and social system in which individual rights and privately owned property
are subjugated to the collective needs of the people, generally as deemed so by a solo dictator, or a congressional/parliamentary majority substituting for a lone dictator.

The term ‘Nazi’ stands literally for the National Socialist Party. Nazis are generally considered ‘right wing’ and racist, while in fact they were explicitly proud socialists.

The notion of determinism makes both possible and necessary a political viewpoint in which dictatorship and alleged collective well-being override the rights of the individual.

Under all forms of collective socialism, some groups are sacrificed for others, and the individual is always sacrificed.

Concluded in tomorrow’s column.


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