Saturday, April 21, 2007

On violence and civil society, part two

Three reactions. Beth thinks hard about what went wrong:
Of course gun control is part of it, but easy access to guns in America is not new. Unless we look at what makes America a society so in love with violence - as reaction, as solution, and as entertainment - there's no hope for change. Furthermore, who were the other people killed yesterday, or the day before, their deaths financed by my tax dollars? Is any one of those deaths a lesser tragedy? And who were the young American men or women who witnessed or caused those deaths, sent into war at 18 or 20, emotionally and psychologically unprepared, ignorant about the people and country to which they were going, yet heavily armed, and placed in a position of fear and, sometimes, chaos? What is the damage being done, in my name, to countless people who, if they survive their tour without physical damage, then return to a society which has, meanwhile, been websurfing for Prada knock-off handbags and worrying about whether Jennifer Lopez is getting a divorce?

and Rana picks up on the entertainment value of violence (in reply to Beth):
I do find personally compelling the argument that part of this is due to a culture of violence in this society, a culture that is taken as normal and unremarkable. I still remember, when I was an undergraduate nearly two decades ago, this one incident that sums it up well for me. At the time I was living in the Russian-speaking dorm, along with several other students and a native speaker visiting from Moscow. They were showing "The Shining" one evening, and I invited this woman to attend with me. She was horrified and terrified by the violence in the film - and the implied violence - and was even more astonished and disturbed by the fact that many of the people in the audience were laughing at Jack Nicholson's behavior.

while the Rockstar Mommy rages against the sensationalizing, rude, crude, intrusive media coverage:
Showing these things over and over and over again is doing absolutely nothing but finally giving this kid —this psychopathic mass-murdering cowardly crybaby little fuckhead— the attention and fame that he wanted. Did they learn nothing from Columbine? Did they not hear him reference Columbine in his video? Do they not realize that all this over-saturation will only put more ideas in more kids' heads? ...

I'm sick to death of this kid getting this kind of attention. He was a coward. He was a pussy. He was a self-centered, schizophrenic freak. No wonder he didn't have any friends. A good kid with issues doesn't turn into a psychopath, it's born into them. There is no glory in what he did. What he did does not make a statement. We are not in "The Matrix." This is not "Natural Born Killers." Killing people because you're sad does not make you cool. And killing yourself so that you don't have to deal with the consequences makes you the lowest scum of the earth, just below the news media.

Quite right.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous antonia said...

to try a reply to what you wrote at the end of you first post on this violence issue, that the important question is why is there so much uncontrolled rage. this sort of rage seems to me to be a natural consequence of that advanced sort of capitalism, where even such basic things as housing or healthinsurance or higher education are difficult to afford, where you have an immense pressure to compete in almost every area of one's life. Here it would fit that it is often young people who run amok, because they lack the capacities to deal with their life and the demands society puts on them. Make it difficult for people to attain basic needs this is what you get - this to explain the general violence - then in particular you always have psychos like that recent guy. Good social politics is always also indirect crime prevention. Of course, one can never avoid such violent outbursts totally, but they can be reduced a lot with some reasonable social politics. And the media only are a symptom, not the root. But as things are now as they are it actually surprises me that not much more run amok....that's just what you get in advanced capitalistic societies and that's not a completely new result nor a secret.

April 22, 2007 at 11:57:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Pacian said...

"schizophrenic freak"

Funnily enough, my biggest complaint about the reaction to the shooting, by the media and (perhaps more so) by the public, is how they seemed to equate 'he was treated (very briefly) for mental illness' with 'they should have known he was a mass-murderer - he was crazy!'

This isn't to say that we shouldn't ask questions about why whoever treated him didn't discover his propensity for violence, but everyone seemed to make this instant connection, this 'Ah-ha! They knew he was crazy!' As if killing 32 people is the kind of thing that anyone who has been treated for mental illness might do.

April 22, 2007 at 1:42:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

Antonia: I've written Part Three in answer to your comment.

Pacian: very true, a gross and offensive simplification. If everyone who ever suffered a mental illness were a mass-murderer, the world population would drop overnight by at least thirty percent.

April 23, 2007 at 11:49:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger CarpeDM said...

I tend to enjoy violent shows (CSI:, Lost, Heroes), read murder mysteries and enjoy action movies the most (but no horror - I just love car chases and a good shoot out) but I have never once thought, hey, you know, I think it is time to go and shoot up a bunch of people. I wouldn't even have the slightest idea on where to buy a gun.

Also, I suffer from sometimes crippling depression and never once thought the answer would be to harm others. Myself, yes (thank God for happy pills). And while I think the media is overplaying this and that gun control is needed, what it comes down to it - this kid had problems. Major problems. And because he couldn't deal with his life, he decided to kill a bunch of innocent people. So I'm leaning towards agreeing with Rockstar Mommy's comments. He was a coward and more than likely didn't tell whatever person that was trying to treat him what his real feelings were. You can't treat someone who won't tell the truth.

April 25, 2007 at 6:06:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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