In Greek mythology, King Minos of Crete extracted a gruesome tribute from the Athenians in exchange for not destroying them entirely in a war. Every nine years, the Athenians were forced to send seven youths and seven maidens to Crete, where they would be fed to the Minotaur, the half bull, half man beast that lived in the Labyrinth. Eventually, one of the youth, a hero named Theseus, slew the Minotaur and ended the tribute.
Which brings us to present day America. We have a Minotaur too. It is the gun culture, half constitutional right, half stupidity, and every few years — never mind the nine-year respite the Athenians had — we pay our tribute to the beast in the blood of our youth.
This time the Labyrinth was at Chardon High School outside Cleveland. This time the tribute paid was three dead kids and two wounded. This will happen again and again and again, only in different places with the number of dead and wounded kids changing.
And everybody will cry and wring their hands and absolutely nothing will be done. Why do we keep on perpetuating this madness?
At the heart of the matter, some of us are afraid of being destroyed, in our case perhaps in an urban war, and some of us think guns and the tribute we pay them will keep us safe, when all they do is extend the free-fire zone. Count the dead in Ohio if you have a doubt.
So there's no point in being shocked or even surprised. This is the deal we struck. Could a latter-day Theseus slay the beast? Doubtful. The Minotaur had a powerful ally called the NRA, a creature that is all bull.
Yet the remedy is right in the Second Amendment, that initial mention of a "well-regulated militia." An enlightened leader could suggest that everybody who wants a firearm has to pass a competency test, both in the use of the gun and mental competency. "Well regulated" is what the amendment says, so who can be against faithfully following its wording? And by bringing responsibility into gun ownership, a lot of shooters —not all, but a lot — would be discouraged.
But Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in his opinion finding an individual constitutional right to gun ownership, jumped through hoops in holding that those preamble words had no meaning at all. But why are they there then?
Today Ohio. Tomorrow? The tribute never stops and the Minotaur is never sated.