Between 1880 and the beginning of the First World War, there existed a fashion for assassination in Europe, in the name of anarchism, nihilism, and propagande par le fait. That carnage pales compared to the number of French aristocrats who died in murders committed by duel during the reigns of Henry IV and Louis XIII, in the name of "honor," a practice once so widespread that its decline could hardly be conceived. We appear to be in the grip of another such murderous fashion in my own once enlightened country; we can only pray that this senseless fad will pass quickly.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Ian Goodrick: "I live within site of the one of the largest Sikh Gurdwara outside India in a town in the U.K. that has had a Sikh community since the early 1960s, and I can say that the Sikh community is most welcoming to visitors.
"A couple of weeks ago when the Olympic torch was being transported across the U.K. it was taken to the Gurdwara as part of the celebrations prior to the opening ceremony. I went there to see the torch relay as I knew I could get some nice pictures.
"When we got there everyone we spoke to, invited us to come in to the Gurdwara and have a look around and as we had not seen the interior since it was finished we were happy to visit. We were 'adopted' by a young boy who my wife had taught at a local school who proudly gave us a tour of the interior. We were also invited to eat in the Langar hall and again we were welcomed and sat and eat with about 300 other people, sitting cross legged on the floor of the Langar.
"I know my experience is not out of the ordinary as several of my work colleagues are Sikh. They are all religious, but that part of their lives is always separate and private and never impinges on work and we are all given treats of sweets and food at the time of Sikh festivals.
"Knowing this just makes the shooting near you all the more shocking and tragic."
[Ian has some pictures of the Sikh Gurdwara ("Gate to the Guru," the place of worship for Sikhs) near Gravesend at his website. —Ed.]
Featured Comment by Mark Sampson: "Anytime something like this happens it's too close to home."
Mike replies: Just so, Mark. Randomly occurring violence should be equally alarming wherever it occurs, not just when it's rearby. The alaming thing about it is that it can happen anywhere, not where it actually has happened. Still, it's human nature to be more threatened by nearer events, and by associations in our thoughts...for instance, I'll bet a lot more people have felt a little more uncomfortable in movie theaters since the Colorado shooting, even though that's not strictly logical.