It's time to face facts: Americans are addicted
to killing each other with swords. This compulsion has the potential to
do even greater damage to the American economy in 2011 than widespread
municipal bond defaults, if only because Cleveland's poor credit rating
has yet to actually murder any small business owners. Slate's Daniel Engber
has gone so far as to compile a psychological profile of the typical
sword murderer. Some of them, it seems, are odd ducks. Writes Engber of
the pointy weapon's specialized appeal:
It's the plaything of a
deviant mind. A man with a sword has no interest in concealment and no
hope of escape....A sword isn't sneaked to the scene of the crime; it's
lifted from the mantel at the moment of need. Because, really, there's
nothing more grandiose and theatrical than the vorpal blade. It's the
weapon of dueling gentlemen and swashbuckling adventurers, of knights in
armor and the horse lords of Rohan.
That is to say, the sword is
the weapon of nerds. It's also the weapon of schizophrenics. And, most
of all, it's the weapon of schizophrenic nerds.
Twitter! Except instead of using it to save Conan
, people use it to chop up
The archetypical sword murderer, for his part, is a
20- to 40-year-old white male who still lives with his parents. He's
often a paranoid schizophrenic, and he often expresses himself by
killing his mother or father...We know that parricides make up about 1.5
percent of all murders, and that more than half of those family
killings involve some sort of edged weapon.
Engber believes only
tougher regulation will lower the number of attacks, which could spell
trouble for millions (billions?) of responsible sword-owning American
Samurai-swordfights have become so common in the United
Kingdom...that the government moved to ban the manufacture, sale,
or import of Japanese-style replica swords in 2009. A similar ban in the
United States might bring a small reduction in sword-based violence.
before we start disarming the nerds, let's examine the unintended
consequences: The most vulnerable and easily-picked-on people in the
nation would be left without their primary means of self-defense.
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