Massacres of the innocents have happened in every society in every era that there is record of. Rationales are always sought and found, sometimes such good ones that the hideous crime becomes an almost understandable reaction, or ‘just one of those things’ rather than the monstrous (out of all reason or proportion) act it should be seen as.
It seems very clear to me that the modern massacre is largely a symptom of the banal and brutish celebrity culture along with the essentially ethics deprived (depraved?) news channels and news producer/editors.
Why do I say that?:
- Celebrity culture? Because so many of those on TV are so obviously no more deserving of anything than anyone else randomly plucked out of the crowed and made famous. These people are famous for nothing, they are often famous for a few hours, days, weeks, then gone, except for questions in games of ‘cultural knowledge. Some damaged person, hating the world, believing themselves deserving of so much more, hurting because they cannot make the grade, sees these celebrities and says, ‘why not me?’ And there is no rational reason in evidence. (There may be a logical reason and many ‘idiot celebrities’ are far from the fools they make themselves out to be and their fame far less ‘given’ than it appears, but that is not obvious to those without a great deal of comprehension from the other side of the TV screen.)
- The News Channels? : Every time there is some new item, multiple guns, bombs, ‘Kevlar jackets,’ bandoliers, it then becomes the norm because its driven into the psyche of those watching by hour after hour after hour of banal repetition but know nothing talking heads who are desperately searching for new ways of saying the same damn thing again and again and again.
I see a lot of headlines decrying (as always) a culture of violence and/or a culture of guns. I will not deny both are certainly somewhat valid criticisms of US culture, and both obviously are part of the massacre problem but they are not the direct triggers that the above two elements are.
The culture of violence trope: video games and violent entertainment in general,war metaphors in public discourse, the gang problem, murder rates, rape rates. Is massively overplayed because it is so very close to home to the largely urban population that lives with the problems endemic with even small rates of violence in highly concentrated populations. And the politicians and dreamers who believe (or make-believe) that somehow there is a way to perfect the human animal and make them peaceful.
- The games I played as a kid were as violent in their inane way as any video game or movie and to be honest the fact that the movies and games are so realistic these days is probably in general a violence reducer not producer, most of us do not want to die in ugly painful ways.
- The use of violent and war metaphors in public discourse is again as old as man and is used because it is one of the few ways we can talk about mass movements and wholesale changes that can be commanded. I agree this is a poor set of metaphors because they do not work in the civilian sphere (war on poverty, war on drugs, war on obesity … gahh its all bladerdash (bullshit for you younger readers.)
- I’ve said it before and will say it again, violent crime is in general decreasing not increasing in our society. Most of the vicious crime in our society occurs in essentially tribal settings of gangs, where trust is utterly familial or feudal, whereas in the ‘trust based’ societies of the sub and ex urbs violence is rare because the trust thing alows folks to start talking before they start swearing or shooting and because resorting to violence is seen as a failure on all parties part.
The Culture of Violence trope is a reflection of life in the US, a country and over society, with vastly different life styles for many sub populations. The urbanites wishful thinking that there is somehow a cultural baddness that can be sopped up and made to go away is just fantasy.
The culture of guns trope: guns in the games, guns in the movies, the guns as a false icon of individualism, the effectiveness of gun laws, the effectiveness of policing, guns as violence accelerant. This again is a trope that has come out of Europe and out of the Urban environs.
- To a large degree America was all about the gun from the early days. In some cases owning a gun was a requirement for a settler. It was only as later waves of settlers came to the US from the largely disarmed Europe to settle in the cities where guns were rare, did this fact begin to be forgotten. Guns were rare because the cities were generally full of poor hard-working men and women, guns were general expensive to buy and use while not needed for hunting for range combat with raiders in the city. Generally there was a move to make sure that the urban masses were disarmed so that the police could maintain control in case of riots etc, so guns because most common in the hands of criminals. Mind you these populations were not noticeable less murder prone or peaceful they just did it with fists, hammers and knives.
- Guns are an icon of America as the leading light of the individualist state, and guns are a central fact of life in the world which means that unless you turn your back on reality guns will be in the equation. Trying to make that fact go away by wishing is not sane.
- Making out that taking guns out of the population is mostly about making the society safer is wishful thinking encouraged to make it easier to carry out Anti gun laws are about controlling the population by making sure that the gov’t agents (police, etc) has the vast preponderance of force
>>This is a protection racket writ large:: When inevitably the politicians’ (emergent group, not necessarily individual) stupidity and cupidity make the Public Protection, function of the police impossibly expensive to maintain, if the taxed population is disarmed they have no choice (or rationalize that they have no choice) but to accept higher taxes, or draconian laws to get the criminals off the street.
>>The cities with the most draconian gun laws are generally less safe than the ones with the least restrictions. In fact in general the more certain a thug is that the potential victim is going to be unarmed the more likely the thug is to act and the more violent those actions are going to be, to frighten the victim and the victim’s circle of acquaintances into acquiescence.
- Generally the presence or potential presence of a gun in a ‘discussion’ is going to tend to make it more polite. Concealed carry and open carry has spread quickly in the central US and the general trends in violence are down, not up.
The US gun culture is simply a fact of life that was bred into the country/state at its birth and is inextricably mixed with its reality. While the desire to disarm the populace so it will be more peaceful has been a trope for many years it is more fantasy than lie and more lie than practical solution. The unfortunate fact is that many people living in peaceful surroundings think that anti gun laws could work, the reality is that they only work so long as the social infrastructure providing that peaceful idyll exists. That infrastructure has nothing to do with the existence or non existence of guns, it’s all about money, when the money dries up the barbarians creep in.
In the real world the police are only able to deal with criminals after the fact. That is too late in most massacre situations. The massive cost and potential for abuse/loss of liberty of putting more police on patrol and giving them the legal tools to try and stop this sort of thing before it gets ‘too bad’ makes that solution untenable. The fact is that there is no ‘solution’ to the massacre ‘problem.’ Like terrorism, you can mitigate and reduce but not eliminate. The most reasonable ‘direct mitigator’ is likely to be a radical libertarian one. More guns not less and those guns should be in the hands of those with the most interest. Those who are seen as targets and victims or the protectors/mentors of those who cannot protect themselves.