The sleep of reason breeds monsters. In the United States these monsters have names less exotic than Beelzebub, Baal or the Lord of Flies. Instead they are called "Adam Lanza", a 20-year-old monster who shot dead its gun-loving mother and 20 children. In July the monster was called "James Eagan Holmes", who shot dead 12 members of the audience in a cinema in Aurora, Colorado. In January last year it was a grinning one named "Jared Lee Loughner" that shot 19 people in Tucson, Arizona, six of them dead.
In November 2009 a monster called "Nidal Malik Hasan" shot dead 13 people at the Fort Hood military base. Of all the monstrous attacks in recent years this one may have been the least insane - even though this particular fiend was able to plead mental illness in its defence (it had previously passed itself off as an army psychiatrist). This shrink-fiend also claimed to be acting on behalf of Islamists, which may have made some kind of monstrous sense.
No sense can be made of the April 2007 attack by the monster "Seung-hui Cho", which shot dead 32 people on the campus of Virginia Tech, in the worst of the US mass shootings in recent decades. Other countries have them, too - Norway, Scotland, Australia, South Korea spring to mind - but the regularity with which these atrocities occur in the United States beggars belief.
This is because reason is sleeping there - the reason that would otherwise compel a nation to make it as difficult as possible for anyone or anything to get its hands on semi-automatic rifles and handguns. Not because this would be "gun control", but just good old common sense. Apart from cops and soldiers, who needs these things except onanists indulging banal and destructive fantasies?
Like the rest of a saddened and angry world, I wish we could figure out the name of the next monster, so it may be caught, neutered and rendered harmless. Alas, we are mortal and therefore unable to conjure up the name of the beast now out there, thinking of when to strike. In fact, inspired by Friday's events in Connecticut, this fiend has probably rushed out to get a Bushmaster or Glock of its own, still unaware, like those nutters who oppose "gun control", of the danger of becoming that which enthralls it most.
Alex Lo is on leave