If Bernhard Goetz did his subway shooting today, would society's view of him be different than it was when he did it?
I have to agree that the reaction today would be very similar to the reaction it received in 1984. As a society I think many of us secretly think that what a vigilante does is one for the good guys, however most all of us realize that this type of reaction and justice is not right and has to be punished.
You gentlemen all make good points, but I'm going to be the devil's advocate here. I think it's quite likely that society would act differently. I think, perhaps, society has been exposed to so much horrific acts of this kind, that a large majority would be in an uproar--for one side or the other--but then it would simply fade away. Almost as if people would think "Uh oh. Another nut had a meltdown on the subway today."
I agree that the reaction would be much the same. The combination of a revived interpretation of the Second Amendment applying to all Americans and the atmosphere of fear that surrounds one in big cities; together with the seeming explosion of gang related violence is such that many people would applaud the actions of one who "gave them what they deserved," and others would deplore this "taking the law into one's own hands." Personally, I believe his actions then and now were unfortunate. Although the young men in question perhaps acted improperly, at no time did they do anything which could remotely have led him to feel threatened or intimidated. He had the option of simply saying "No' when they asked for $5.00
I agree that today's reaction would be much the same. Yes, we have many second amendment advocates in the country today, just as we did then, and some might consider him a hero. But I imagine that most of America, including and especially the government and legal system, would condemn his actions as that of an ill-advised vigilante.
I do not believe that society would react any differently today if a Bernhard Goetz type were to do the exact same act that Goetz did back in 1984. Just as it was then, the reaction to such a shooting today would be polarized and angry.
Today, as in 1984, there would be one part of the society that would applaud the shooting. They would point out that Goetz was simply defending himself against menacing criminals. They would argue that his actions show how important the right to bear arms is. (The 2nd Amendment issues would probably get more attention now than in 1984.) To people like this, Goetz would still be a hero.
Today, as in 1984, a certain part of society would see Goetz as a crazed vigilante whose actions showed racism. They would argue (as with the Giffords shooting from this year) that the shooting showed the need for more gun control. To people like this, Goetz would be a dangerous menace.
As the description of Lillian Rubin's book (link below) says, Goetz was
a hero to some, a dangerous vigilante to others.
With our society so polarized today on issues of race, crime and guns, a modern-day Goetz would surely be seen in just the same way.
Society has not significantly changed enough, regarding the Goetz event, that would warrant a different outcome.
Unfortunately, our society has a difficult time holding offenders accountable for their actions and looks to place blame elsewhere. A good example of this is the recent shooting in Tucson of Congresswoman Giffords. The shooter is solely responsible for his actions yet the liberal media wants to continually blame conservative radio and T.V. (Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, O'Reilly, etc. )for his actions DESPITE the fact that the shooter did not listen to talk radio and was not a conservative! Individual responsibility and accountability cannot be passed to others for acceptance!