Pierce O’Farrill

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

So there’s physical courage—the heroes in Aurora who shielded loved ones from gunfire.

But then there’s moral courage—holding fast to your principles in the face of unimaginable challenges to those principles. Pierce O’Farrill was shot three times in Aurora, once with each of James Holmes’ guns. He gave a radio interview yesterday. So first of all, the guy was shot three times, and he gave a radio interview yesterday. But it’s more about what the guy said. First, he forgave his attacker. Second, he asked that his attacker not be given the death penalty. And third, he reaffirmed his support for Second Amendment rights.

I’m sure my opinion is colored by the fact that though I don’t share his religious beliefs, I do happen to agree with O’Farrill on the death penalty and gun rights. Nevertheless, the guy sounds like a pretty exceptional human being.

 

–Radley


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65 Responses to “Pierce O’Farrill”

  1. #1 |  Weird Willy | 

    @5, Burgers

    “Pierce O’Farill is cool, especially the forgiveness part…”

    Why?

  2. #2 |  Burgers Allday | 

    Because he has perspective and capability to philosophically detach. These are qualities that have been seriously undervalued since 9/11.

  3. #3 |  Mairead | 

    @49 Regulated means limited and/or restricted according to a standard.

    If you’re using “limited” and “restricted” as terms of art, I can’t object — if you explain them when you use them.

    If you’re using them in their ordinary, everyday meaning, though, they’re misleading, slippery-slope choices when paraphrasing what the Second meant. Your quote from Johnson makes that clear: “limiting” ones ideas to those included in consensual reality doesn’t mean that one ceases to think, or thinks only when carrying out orders (as Hitler believed true of most people) just that one stops believing things not borne out by experience, e.g., that people living in Cloggieland all speak English.

    Similarly, “regulating” the militia doesn’t mean permitting only privileged people to have weapons, or forbidding any but outdated weapons, which are among the meanings the Love-Me-I’m-A-Liberal authoritarians want to impute.

    It might mean that people who claim militia membership should have to qualify periodically with a standard weapon as well as all those they own, demonstrate that they have the basic abilities needed to be a member of a local militia company, and possibly should be required to own and care for a standard weapon as well as qualify with one.

    (Thanks for your 1L explanation! I was never a law student, but have generally been regarded as a capable thinker for most of my 72 years :-)

  4. #4 |  Burgers Allday | 

    If you’re using them in their ordinary, everyday meaning, though, they’re misleading, slippery-slope choices when paraphrasing what the Second meant.

    I am interpreting the words in the way they should be interpreted when it is a Constitution we are expounding. The founders could have written the Amendment to say:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting firearms; or the right of the people to bear arms.”

    This is the language used in the First Amendment. But they chose to make a more qualified statement with respect to guns. When looking at what they meant by “regulated” (and, more precisely how they wanted that term applied in the future to unknown and unknowable) one has to look at the types of concerns that would would cause them to use that qualifying language. They were basically saying that the “militia” gets to have guns to the extent there are restrictions or limitations on militiamen that make them trustworthy. Militiamen had to follow rules that regular citizens did not, and this is what made them able to be trusted with weapons.

    The drafters of the Constitution were not concerned that people would accidentally break their guns while cleaning them, or that they would fail to break lockstep on a bridge or anything like that. Congress was saying that the right to bear arms is contingent upon limitations and restrictions aimed at making sure that the people who did have guns would not run around shooting the wrong people.

    I agree that the limitations and restrictions should not be so burdensome that they effectively abrogate the right to bear arms. That result would also be inconsistent with the spirit, intent and language of the second amendment. The drafters knew that the power to regulate is the power to destroy, and that is why they used strong language to make it clear that the prerogative to bear arms should not be subject to destruction by regulation. OTOH, they also realized that the right to bear arms did need to be subject to regulation. And again, they weren’t talking about the kind of regulation where the militiaman is required to keep the stock polished and the powder horn full.

  5. #5 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @32 – Right, the Tyranny needs an highly armed populace so it’s military units will never be faced with the situation of having to think about it’s orders before coming under fire.

  6. #6 |  Mairead | 

    @54 The founders could have written the Amendment to say:

    “Congress shall make no law respecting firearms; or the right of the people to bear arms.”

    This is the language used in the First Amendment. But they chose to make a more qualified statement with respect to guns.

    An argument from language use isn’t especially persuasive, since the authors were members of the elite, not people who had to be accurate composers of easily-understood prose in order to get their living. Note that, although every one of the first 8 amendments refers to an individual right, all have different syntactic constructions.

    The historical record shows that they played around with the wording of various amendments, but in ways that had little or nothing to do with making the text less susceptible to misunderstanding. I’m sure they took the position that most non-specialists take who are also subject-matter experts: “how hard can it be to understand? It’s plain English!” :-) (as a psychologist, most of my practice has been in the human factors of design; the profession has amassed a very large number of Humorous Anecdotes about people who’ve designed/made/written things based on their innocent belief that “it’s obvious!”)

  7. #7 |  Weird Willy | 

    52, Burgers

    “Because he has perspective and capability to philosophically detach.”

    Sorry, I missed that part. I only read the part where he redoubles his self-application to a religious dogma that requires him to accept and endorse personal affliction. That seemed highly ‘uncool’ and unhealthy to me.

  8. #8 |  Weird Willy | 

    52, Burgers

    “Because he has perspective and capability to philosophically detach.”

    Sorry, I missed that part. I only read the part where he redoubles his self-application to a religious dogma that requires him to accept and endorse personal affliction. That seemed highly ‘uncool’ and unhealthy to me.

  9. #9 |  Bob | 

    Let’s look at the facts for a minute. Very few people ACTUALLY DIE as the result of mass shootings. What… 100 a year? Hell, 3 times that are killed in pointless police chases where the chased ‘criminal’ is guilty of nothing more than an a misdemeanor charge.

    Hey! I’m quoting myself! Hmm. Well, I’ll consider the fact that I’m talking to myself in public later.

    Anyway, I was thinking about it… and I couldn’t think of enough mass murders of this type to even add up to 100 deaths, much less in a single year. So I did a little research.

    Since 1990, it looks like there have been 22 mass shootings in the US with a total death count of 210 (I’m not counting the shooter if they self-terminated.) That’s 10 deaths per year.

  10. #10 |  Ya Know Its Burgers | 

    @57,58: I acknowledged that upfront in post #5. I would have been equally, if not more, cool with him stating that his experience had caused him to rethink his position on gun control.

  11. #11 |  el coronado | 

    Actually, I’d tend to look askance at anyone who publicly proclaims he/she “forgives” the scumbucket who tried his very best to kill him/her just a couple of days earlier. At this point, any rational person should still be in shock and/or working through the various phases of acceptance of the enormous trauma that was _randomly_ inflicted upon him/her.

    ‘Instant forgiveness’ may be within the reach of the most Holy of people – Jesus & Buddha & them – but when Joe/Jane Blow claims it, I find myself doubtful. That’s some *serious* self-esteem and/or *major* denial goin’ on there, if it were true. Would someone whose child had just been murdered/intentionally grievously injured be looked upon approvingly if they proclaimed their ‘forgiveness’ of the scumbucket 3 days later? I don’t theenk so. Also, anyone with an “capability to philosophically detach” to that degree, that quickly, would more than likely be assumed to be a sociopath by any competent mental health pro, no? Since I have no desire to smear the guy, I’d assume all that forgiveness jive is just the shock talking.

  12. #12 |  John Spragge | 

    @61: If you google the diagnostic and statistical manual 4, the most recent published version of the standard used by “competent mental health professionals”, you will discover that the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder, the actual diagnosis for someone we refer to, in layman’s terms, as a sociopath, do not include a propensity to forgive.

    To see the problem with the argument that only the most spiritually advanced people have the standing or ability to forgive, imagine applying it to other values such as freedom. If only great spiritual souls can forgive, does that mean we can trust only the greatest of men and women with freedom? I would say no in both cases. The virtues required in any functioning society include both freedom and forgiveness, and for society to work, each member must practise these and other virtues as well as they can. To allow only the great spiritual masters to forgive makes a little sense as restricting freedom to its most famous advocates.

    Survivors like James Loney and practical management advisors like Stephen Covey agree that when you hold something, it holds you. Vow eternal hatred of someone who has wronged you, and you permanently commit to a relationship chosen by the offender. Worse, from a social point of view, because we feel the wrongs done to us most keenly, the hatred and vengence which naturally arises from a refusal to forgive tends to escalate over time. The infamous feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys shows where a refusal to forgive can lead a society. Ultimately, forgiveness offers the only way to free ourselves from the offender. That doesn’t mean allowing offenders to do it again, or not telling the truth about the horror of the offence. It means facing the reality of the harm the offender has done and letting go: responding without hate.

  13. #13 |  Bob | 

    John Spragge:

    I guess you and I define “Forgiveness” differently. In my book, “Forgiveness” is how you treat others, not how you deal with stuff yourself.

    The anger you speak of is internal, and has nothing really to do with outside persons or events. Would you be angry at the sun for causing a heat wave? The wind for causing a tornado? No? This is no different. James Holmes didn’t go into a theater shooting people because he actually hated them, he did it because he’s insane. (At least I assume that’s the case. Available evidence looks pretty good for that conclusion.) Getting angry at insane people is like getting angry at the wind, or the sun.

    James Holmes needs to be punished, not forgiven. At the same time, hating the guy is pointless. You don’t need to “forgive” to not hate.

  14. #14 |  Fran | 

    I have a different take on your hero Pierce. I may anger some people with this but I am going to post it anyway. I just watched an interview with a survior of the Co. shootings. He said that God saved him, he also said he saw or was aware that a child (girl) was dead. So is he saying that God micromanages and picked him to live and picked the 6 yr. old girl to die! I find that so offensive I don’t know how to put that in to words. I wonder if he thinks of the families of the dead and how they feel about what he has to say. Could be he is an egomaniac that thinks that he is a favorite of God. Is he saying the God did not save my nephew, his daughter and my son Sean for some reason. I do not know this person , Pierce but I do not believe he is/was a better person than the 3 young family members whose loss we have had to struggle with daily. I have heard people say this ever since I can remember and I always think WTH makes them think they are so worthy and the others not. Near the end he said he was praying for a year that God would find a way for him (Pierce) to let people know how great God is. Well I guess he thinks God killed 12 people and he survived so he could tell the world how great God is. Excuse me while I go VOMIT. He is just loving the attention he is getting and all of you are giving it to him. I think he is a thoughtless fake riding a high on the attention he is getting. I am disgusted with the media for giving this guy the attention he is getting. His is not a hero all he did was survive, he did not save or even try to save anyone. He is getting his 15 min. of fame then he can fade into the background since he did nothing but get out alive. The heros are the ones who protected their loved ones and in some cases died doing so.

  15. #15 |  Son of the Agitator « The Honest Courtesan | 

    […] and help out a good cause?  He also wrote a short post calling attention to the moral courage of Pierce O’Farrill, one of the survivors of the Aurora, Colorado theater massacre: …moral courage [is] holding fast […]