Another Tragic School Shooting: 117 Million American Mental Disconnects and The Conversation That Will Never Happen

[We realize this touches on topics outside the mission but we published a piece below that takes similar positions but from the left. — Angela Keaton]

by J. Buzz Webb

So now the vicious cycle begins: the blame game, the finger pointing, the online petitions. No one wants to listen because they’ve got it all figured out. Critical thinking and open-mindedness have already lost to rigidity. The lines are drawn, the trenches are dug deep and round we go again. Let’s look a little deeper…

This entire tragedy is already hopelessly, horribly politicized, and it’s already on with the gun control hysterics. Simply put, prohibition DOES. NOT. WORK. Connecticut already has some of the strictest gun control laws in America. This calamity happened in a federally mandated “Gun Free School Zone.” So what does that mean? It means it’s a place that people are concentrated where they have little to no possibility of escape and absolutely zero means of protecting themselves in the event that something like this were to occur. Nonetheless, these massacres are symptoms, and it’s typically American to ignore the root causes, decide “there oughta be a law!” and move on. Advocating for more gun laws relies on the fact that criminals will obey the law. How silly a concept is that? Unfortunately, additional laws on paper will never remove risk from our lives no matter what the issue is. Hacking at the branches with knee-jerk, reactionary emotionalism does nothing to strike the root.

But this is way deeper than that. Our culture, not our “gun culture”, but the actual culture, is FUBAR’ed. That’s the *REAL* conversation that needs to happen, and it won’t. Obama will employ violence as a means and drone bomb to death this many kids in Pakistan or Yemen next week. More soldiers kill themselves than die in combat. Mental health treatment is difficult and expensive to access, and usually consists of passing out prescriptions for powerful, mind-altering drugs which, ironically, happens to be a common denominator for all of these mass shootings: the shooters were all taking psychotropic pharmaceuticals. Even Michael Moore has drawn that conclusion. Everyone is more connected now than ever, but there’s no community anywhere. People know more about strangers on the internet or TV actors than their own neighbors. Those are the real issues, not gun control. However, there is no political solution for deep-seated spiritual and social problems.

 

Martin Luther King, Jr. was right: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.” Since MLK’s days, the official political policy has changed to *military offense*, globally. So when 18 kids in a Pakistani schoolhouse are murdered next week by a drone bomb, the media will not report on it and people here will just go on living their lives and not care. This is the dehumanizing effect of how we perceive other human beings that are not “American”, yet folks will continue to employ politicians who are willing to use violence as a means and not really give two thoughts about it. Americans have become desensitized until an unfortunate event hits at home and when it does, then it’s hyper-sensationalism. Better to live by the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality.

 

And therein lies the mental disconnect. The only thing the recent presidential election tells me is that 117 million Americans have not rejected violence as a means, no matter what they claim personally, as both mainstream candidates openly admitted their willingness to use violence. People are outraged today by the Connecticut shooting because it was a massacre not sanctioned by state violence. Yet 117 million Americans just recently voted for two candidates who both embrace violence. To outsource one means of (state) violence and outcry another is terribly inconsistent and not a renunciation of violence. So until we begin to understand how *all* of these events, both at home and projected abroad, are inter-connected in our own lives and how they affect us (and how we absent-mindedly perpetuate them), then sadly, I’m afraid we will all continue to die a slow spiritual death.

[H/T to Dylan Boswell for the inspiration and the parts I borrowed.]Please feel free to share.

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This entry was posted in Death, End of the Empire, The Left's Challenge, The New Peace Movement, The Right's Challange. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Another Tragic School Shooting: 117 Million American Mental Disconnects and The Conversation That Will Never Happen

  1. No murderer ever said, “I was going to kill you, but I didn’t want to get in trouble by using an illegal gun.”

  2. Well, here we go again. Another horrific “Red Flag” to pull guns away from the people. Does it register in anybody that some kid who grew up on violent programs, six wars and a government who propagates war after war just lost his cool finally, ultimately. We live in a atmosphere of “unreality” with shoot-em-up video games and a two-faced government that is supported by a crooked media. Religion is on the back-burner. We have lost our self-government. It wasn’t the kid who fired the shots. It was the damned politicians who forcefully try to confuse everybody. Anarcho-capitalism is the best policy for our constitutional republic. But in this “Kali-yuga,” the Age of Quarrel and Hypocrisy, people can’t get the leaders they want like some pious statesman like Ron Paul. It’s time, America, not to retreat, but to give our kids a future by NOT glorifying politicians with their hypocritic tears, but to honor people who preach real love and honor by their actions. Look to Iceland’s example also. Look to our spiritual leaders and ignore this band of vultures who are tearing America apart. Love to those who who were born and died uselessly, but not by the hands of some traumatized kid who was himself a victim of double-speak indoctri-nation. Liberty is one thing and is a good path, but an education built around the principles that God set down, not just sectarian religious policies that are tampered with and polluted by more politics, but real spiritual principles. Yours in the service and name of our Lord. Rev. TP.

  3. cmichaelg says:

    Eleven Days before Christmas: Carnage in Connecticut
    By Michael Gillespie

    “How do we make sense of what just doesn’t make sense?” –Lester Holt, NBC News, reporting live on the mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT on 12/14/2012

    Big Media talking heads always expresses shock, incredulity, and incomprehension when yet another American runs amok gunning down innocent bystanders in a school, a church, a workplace, a movie theater, or a shopping mall. It’s as if the causes of the continuing epidemic of mass killings in the USA were deeply mysterious, unfathomable, and somehow impenetrable. They are not. On the contrary, the primary causes of this particular aspect of the breakdown of the social order are readily apparent – glaringly obvious. And Big Media is a big part of the problem.

    Is it really so difficult to understand that Americans’ attitudes about guns and violence are shaped primarily by the Big Media corporations that control the public discussion?

    American society is marinated in violence. On screens large and small, from movie theaters, to televisions, to computer games, the entertainment industry relentlessly injects socially-destabilizing violent media content into what passes for popular culture in the USA. Dozens of studies have shown that audiences, especially young, naive, and impressionable audiences – and individuals who are mentally unstable – are negatively affected by exposure to violent media programming. Early reports indicate that the Connecticut man who murdered 26 children, teachers, and school administrators on Friday was both young and mentally unstable. Regular exposure to violent media content desensitizes viewers to the horror of murder and mayhem and results in more aggressive behavior. Regular exposure to media violence tends to promote and reinforce attitudes and behaviors based on the mediated perception that violence is a preferred method of problem solving. Dozens of scholarly studies over the years have indicated that violent media content has negative effects on audiences.

    The vast majority of violent media content is devoid of any significant socially redeeming value. Violent media content is produced and marketed for two reasons: 1) These destructive products are hugely profitable for the powerful Big Media corporations that purchase or produce and market them, and 2) the products are heavily freighted with persuasive social and political messaging that the owners of Big Media corporations view as supportive of and advantageous to their particular social and political agendas. Dozens of authors have written books about the psychologically and emotionally damaging and socially destabilizing effects of violent media content. Suggested Reading: Mayhem: Violence as Public Entertainment, by Sissela Bok; Stop Teaching our Kids to Kill: A Call to Action against TV, Movie, and Video Game Violence, by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman and Gloria DeGaetano; A is for Ox: The Collapse of Literacy and the Rise of Violence in an Electronic Age, by Barry Sanders; and Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture, by Jack G. Shaheen.

    With the deaths of 27 innocent people in Newtown, CT yesterday at the hands of a deranged shooter, once again it has become ever so painfully obvious that the deluge of violent Big Media entertainment product into American popular culture desensitizes regular viewers to violence, persuades naive and impressionable audiences that violence is the preferred method of problem solving, creates a social and political climate of fear and loathing, and promotes aggressive attitudes and violent behaviors across society. It is equally clear that some Big Media producers purposefully produce and market extremely violent programming precisely because they intend to advance a particularly noxious social and political agenda. Let’s look at just one illustrative example, the popular Fox television series 24 that ended in 2010 after eight seasons. The series, which won or was nominated for more than 36 major entertainment industry awards including 12 Emmys, focused on espionage, terrorism, and torture. 24 was sickeningly violent, enormously popular, and widely criticized for its blatant anti-Muslim bias and for promoting torture.

    According to Wikipedia, “On June 23, 2006, the politically conservative US think tank The Heritage Foundation held an unusual panel event to discuss ‘24 and America’s Image in Fighting Terrorism’. The panel event, which was first conceived by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s wife, Ginni, was moderated by talk radio host Rush Limbaugh. In addition to 24 executive producers Robert Cochran, Joel Surnow, and Howard Gordon, and 24 cast members Gregory Itzin, Mary Lynn Rajskub, and Carlos Bernard, the panel included Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, and leading Homeland Security experts James Jay Carafano and David Heyman. During the event, Limbaugh, a fan of the show himself, commented that, ‘Everybody I’ve met in the government that I tell I watch this show, they are huge fans.’ He specifically identified former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Republican political strategist Mary Matalin as enthusiastic fans. The event audience also included Justice Thomas and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham.”

    “…[I]n February 2007, The New Yorker magazine reported that U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan (dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point), accompanied by three of the most experienced military and FBI interrogators in the country, met with the producers of 24 to criticize the show for misrepresenting the effectiveness of torture as an interrogation technique, saying it encouraged soldiers to see torture as a useful and justified tactic in the War on Terror, and damaged the international image of the United States. Brigadier General Finnegan believed the show had an adverse effect on the training of American soldiers because it advocated unethical and illegal behavior. In his words:

    “The kids see it, and say, ‘If torture is wrong, what about 24?’ The disturbing thing is that although torture may cause Jack Bauer some angst, it is always the patriotic thing to do.”

    “Joe Navarro, one of the FBI’s top experts in questioning techniques, also attended the meeting. He told The New Yorker, ‘Only a psychopath can torture and be unaffected. You don’t want people like that in your organization. They are untrustworthy, and tend to have grotesque other problems.’”

    “The New Yorker article itself echoed many of these criticisms, and went on to suggest that the show’s portrayal of torture was a reflection of the political views of its creator, Joel Surnow, an avowed conservative and supporter of George W. Bush. The New Yorker’s criticism of 24 and Surnow was picked up by other commentators and bloggers.”
    British author, political commentator, and former Atlantic magazine senior editor Andrew Sullivan criticized 24 producer Joel Surnow for repeatedly using the “ticking time-bomb” scenario in “an attempt to normalize torture in the public consciousness” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_reaction_to_24).

    Many US law enforcement officers and administrators, who have to deal directly with the resulting carnage, know quite well that violent political rhetoric in broadcast media and media violence are primary causative factors in mass killings. On the morning of January 8, 2011, a mass shooting in a shopping mall parking lot in Arizona killed six including Chief US District Judge John Roll and wounded 19 including US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. Just hours after the shooting, Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik expressed the concerns and sentiments of many Americans regarding violence in media, cultural decline, and the dangerously divisive tone and content of political discourse in broadcast media venues.

    “I think it’s time as a country that we need to do a little soul-searching, because I think the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business and what we see on TV and how our youngsters are being raised, that this has not become the nice United States of America that most of us grew up in. And I think it’s time that we do the soul-searching,” said Dupnik.

    “When you look at unbalanced people, how they respond to the vitriol that comes out of certain mouths about tearing down the government, the anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous. … All I can tell you is that there is reason to believe that this individual may have a mental issue, and I think that people who are unbalanced are especially susceptible to vitriol,” said Dupnik (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__yqwP2OQgs).

    A few days later, journalist and popular PBS talk show host Charlie Rose asked Roger Depue, a 21-year veteran of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a former chief of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences Unit, about the movies and the media and the negative impact of media violence. Depue described the impact of media violence as, “much more profound and significant than a little political rhetoric” (http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/11401 Depue’s observation comes at the end of the interview, at 18.56).

    Yes, the USA is awash in firearms, and far too often mentally and emotionally unstable people who shouldn’t have access to guns get hold of them. The far more serious problem is Americans’ attitudes about guns and violence, attitudes shaped primarily by Big Media corporations, attitudes that are very different from those in other wealthy industrialized nations. For instance, Switzerland has compulsory military service for men (voluntary for women), and the Swiss own more guns per capita – more semiautomatic pistols and assault rifles – than do Americans. “Between the ages of 21 and 32 men serve as frontline troops. They are given an M-57 assault rifle and [until 2007] 24 rounds of ammunition which they are required to keep at home. … In addition to the government-provided arms, there are few restrictions on buying weapons. Some cantons restrict the carrying of firearms – others do not. The government even sells off surplus weaponry to the general public when new equipment is introduced. Guns and shooting are popular national pastimes. More than 200,000 Swiss attend national annual marksmanship competitions. But despite the wide ownership and availability of guns, violent crime is extremely rare. There are only minimal controls at public buildings and politicians rarely have police protection” (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/1566715.stm).

    One extraordinarily important difference between the Swiss and Americans: Big Media corporations have conditioned American audiences to enjoy increasingly violent entertainment fare, while the Swiss are not thus afflicted. American audiences are habituated to media violence, in stark contrast to the Swiss, who, like most Europeans, widely – and quite correctly – view America’s addiction to violent entertainment programming as what it is, a grave, alarming, and growing threat to public safety, public morality, social stability, and good government.

    America’s problem is that Big Media corporations, which profit directly from socially-destabilizing violent media content freighted with political messaging, are so powerful and influential that our democratically-elected representatives, at even the highest levels of government, have very seldom dared to criticize Big Media owners and executives or their products openly. How could they, when the success of political campaigns – the success of political careers – is directly dependent upon electioneering, commentary, news reports that take place all but exclusively in broadcast media venues wholly owned and controlled by Big Media corporations? Recent reports say the cost of the 2012 election amounted to more than $4.2 billion, the most expensive in the nation’s history.

    “While inside-the-Beltway Washington and similar firms who have run campaigns before made the most money from the Obama and Romney campaigns, the biggest expense for both camps was still broadcast advertising. Despite all the declarations that everything is going on the Internet, the biggest industry beneficiary of campaign spending is any business that works with broadcast media,” said David M. Mason, a former FEC chair who now helps mostly Republican-related campaigns comply with federal and state regulatory requirements. “It’s always been advertising for as long as we’ve really had good data on election spending” (http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/09/politics/election-who-got-paid/index.html).

    Big Broadcast Media corporations make a mockery of the quaint notion of freedom of speech. Big Media corporations largely control the public discussion. They are by far the most socially, culturally, and politically influential entities in the USA. Big Media corporations are powerful. Big Media corporations are coercive. Big Media corporations are pathologically violent. Big Media corporations are killing Americans and their children, because Big Media owners and executives find it profitable and politically advantageous to do so.

    Media violence is the glamorous, seductive, and deadly gift that Big Media corporations give Americans every day, whether we want it or not, because, even though it is destroying much if not all that is good and decent about America, it enriches and empowers a very few (http://www.globalissues.org/article/159/media-conglomerates-mergers-concentration-of-ownership).

  4. macahs says:

    This was incredibly, incredibly well written. Thank you!

  5. Phil Boncer says:

    This isn’t about God or Satan or anything like that. Pretending this sort of thing has some supernatural origin does nothing toward figuring it out or solving anything. This is a problem with mental illness, and needs to be looked at under that light, so we can try to figure out someday how to detect the symptoms of this in people before they get to this point. It’s very rare for people to get to this point and do this kind of thing, but it’s extremely tragic when it does happen, so we need to be thinking about how to find and help these people *before* they explode.

  6. ohchaz says:

    The state of our Nation is too “me first and screw you”. Drug gang war in the streets and deaths are daily news. This hardens us to the point of not hearing it at all. When a horror like Sandy Hook brings forth the disgust we have for child killers. It brings out the clear message that there are people out there that have no respect or reguard for life. Give a souless person l.ike that a semi or automatic fire weapon and you have the potential for mass casualties. We can’t outlaw all semiauto weapons, but we can outlaw all machine pistols and autofire rifles includin assault rifles. The main danger is the lack of background checks and not being able to recognize the deranged person before he snaps. There are millions of gun owners that hunt and practice shooting and accidents do happen,but he ony thing we hear about is the drive by shootings and the massacres like this one. I have no answers and I don’t like the way our society is developing into hardedned acceptence. What happened to ” Do unto others as …

    • Phil Boncer says:

      It is already extremely difficult and expensive to get “all machine pistols and autofire rifles includin assault rifles”, and they are already illegal in many states, including CT. And the killer didn’t have any of those (indeed none of the civilian mass killers have had such a weapon), so such a law is completely irrelevant to to solving this sort of problem. It’s a feelgood measure that punishes the law-abiding, while solving nothing at all.

      The problem is indeed “not being able to recognize the deranged person before he snaps’; we should do a lot more research on that and see what we can figure out, for THAT is the root cause, not guns.

  7. cmichaelg says:

    Gun Control? Go For It! But until we do something about entertainment media violence, America’s epidemic of gun violence will continue.

    A ban on assault rifles, like the one used by the deranged young man who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, would be a good thing. But it won’t be enough. The far more serious problem is Americans’ attitudes about guns and violence. Those attitudes are informed primarily by the deluge of hugely lucrative and pathologically violent mass media programming flowing into American popular culture every day courtesy of the entertainment industry.

    The Swiss have more firearms per capita, more semi-automatic pistols and more automatic assault rifles, than do Americans, but Switzerland has a tiny fraction of the gun violence we experience here in the USA. The Swiss maintain a gun culture based on compulsory military service for men (voluntary for women) and the tiny nation is awash in guns. Between the ages of 21 and 32 Swiss men serve as frontline troops. They are given an M-57 assault rifle and (until 2007) 24 rounds of ammunition which they are required to keep at home. Shooting sports are popular national pastimes. In a nation of only 6 million, more than 200,000 Swiss attend and compete in annual national marksmanship competitions. But despite the wide ownership and availability of guns, violent crime is extremely rare and gun violence is extraordinarily rare in Switzerland.

    Once Europe’s mercenaries and palace guards (and still, since 1506, the Vatican’s guards), the Swiss have come to view firearms exclusively in terms of self-defense and friendly competition. The Swiss took in and sheltered more Jews per capita during the Nazi holocaust than any other country on earth, and they stared down the Hitler’s war machine. Hitler and his generals prepared plans to invade Switzerland but decided against it. They well knew that the Swiss, a nation of well-trained marksmen, were prepared to fight to the death. The Nazi generals also knew that if the Whermacht invaded, Swiss leaders would likely make good on their promise: The last surviving Swiss would blow up the vital Alpine rail tunnels connecting Germany and Italy.

    One extraordinarily important difference between the Swiss and Americans: Americans have come to revere violence as entertainment fare; the Swiss have not. The Swiss, like most Europeans, widely and correctly view America’s addiction to media programming that glamorizes and glorifies violence as what it is, a serious and growing threat to public safety, public morality, social stability, and good government. Dozens if not hundreds of studies conducted in the USA, Canada, Europe, and elsewhere have shown that audiences, especially young, naive, and impressionable audiences – and individuals who are mentally unstable – are negatively affected by exposure to violent media programming. Regular exposure to violent media content desensitizes children to violence and results in more aggressive behavior. Regular exposure to media violence tends to promote and reinforce attitudes and behaviors based on the false mediated perception that violence is the preferred method of problem solving.

    Noted author and theologian Walter Wink has written about the mythology of redemptive violence, the myth that informs Hollywood’s most lucrative products: “The myth of redemptive violence is the simplest, laziest, most exciting, uncomplicated, irrational and primitive depiction of evil the world has ever known. Furthermore, its orientation toward evil is one into which virtually all modern children (boys especially) are socialized in the process of maturation…

    “Estimates vary widely, but the average [American] child is reported to log roughly 36,000 hours of television by the time she or he is 18, including some 15,000 murders. In prime time evening shows, our children are served up about 16 acts of entertaining violence (two of them lethal) every night; on the weekend the level of violent acts almost doubles (30.3). By the age of 16, the average child spends as much time watching TV as in school.

    “From the earliest age, children are awash in depictions of violence as the ultimate solution in human conflicts. And saturation in the myth does not end with the close of adolescence. There is no rite of passage…but rather a years-long acclimatization to adult television and movie fare. Redemptive violence gives way to violence as an end in itself (in) a religion in which violence has become the ultimate concern, an elixir, an addictive high, a substitute for relationships.”

    Until Americans kick the entertainment industry’s violence habit, the epidemic of gun violence will continue unabated, assault rifle ban or no assault rifle ban.

    • Phil Boncer says:

      Good post, and I completely agree (except for an “assault weapons ban” being a good thing; that would be a useless and ineffective thing, violating the rights of the law-abiding, and done just to feel good about having done “something”).

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