Short and not-sweet

So, explain to me how we’re supposed to survive as a society when once or twice a week someone grabs one or more guns and shoots up a college lecture hall, school, or workplace.

I’m getting to the point where I’m not shocked when it happens, which saddens me greatly.

(Source: 6 dead in N. Illinois U. hall shooting)

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About songdogmi

I'm a longhaired almost-hippie stuck in the inner suburbs of a major rust-belt metropolis who's thoughtful, creative, and kind of geeky. In exchange for a paycheck I run around in a cubicle maze most days. When I escape, I play music, hang out in coffee houses, dink around on the computer, take naps, and think I should be off in the woods somewhere. Every once in a while I get in my car and drive far, far away, though I've always come back so far.
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8 Responses to Short and not-sweet

  1. altivo says:

    Brace yourself for another flurry of strident claims that everyone should be carrying concealed weapons to “prevent” this sort of thing.

    The real problem is that the US, more than any other culture in the world, has become dead to violence. We accept it as normal, ignore it, and go on. We perpetrate it in media and glorify it. As a society, we are almost totally desensitized to the reality of it. Like the emperor’s new clothes, no one is willing to stand up and say this is unacceptable.

    Too much money is made, not only in the manufacture and marketing of weaponry, but in the entertainment media that promote it: film, television, print, and video games. That lobby is so powerful it will shout down any criticism, and buy out any political opposition.

    • songdogmi says:

      Until recently, I’ve been resistant to the notion that the violence (and sex, and consumerism) that we’re constantly fed in the media is leading to the societal problems we have. I’m beginning to question my resistance, though. It comes to the role of stories in society. Not only do stories entertain, they also reinforce the ways of the society. It was true when we all lived primitive lives in tribes, and there’s no reason to expect that has changed now that we’re so “advanced.” We just have many more ways to tell stories now, and they’re very effective (even the bad movies). If a huge number of your society’s stories involve picking up a weapon and blowing your enemies away, is it unreasonable to think that message is being absorbed by the society? And there’s usually no real comeuppance for the perpetrator of the violence in our stories these days, either, especially when it’s the hero is like Rambo or someone in a Tarantino movie. That leaves the meaning unambiguous: Violence is a useful tool, not something to be avoided.

      • altivo says:

        Precisely my point. Yeah, sure, some kid doesn’t usually see a Rambo movie or play a violent game and then run out and try to duplicate what he saw on the screen. It isn’t that simple.

        But what does happen when you see this stuff day in and day out for twenty years? It really does change the “background” thought process unless you’ve had a lot of strong conditioning in the other direction. And in our culture, we are missing that counteractive conditioning.

        Even being aware of the potential consequences of such actions isn’t really effective, though. Sure, if caught, the perpetrator can expect some severe punishment. But… in the films, or the videogames, he doesn’t get caught. And, beyond that, it seems that most of the perps blow themselves away after doing as much damage as possible. So they aren’t worried about consequences, they are already planning a suicide and just want to take as many of their perceived “tormentors” with them as possible.

        Having been a victim of bullying from kindergarten through college, I can understand that impulse. Fortunately, I never had the associated death wish, so it wasn’t a temptation. I also never had the access to the weaponry, but we know that many in our society do have such access, and can get the weapons easily enough.

        The observed result is a combination of many factors, and easy availability of weaponry is only one of them. The knee-jerk reaction of the NRA types, that it just means we need even more weapons on the street, is just proof of my point. These are people who believe the way to solve a problem is to blow someone or something up. Our culture is in failure mode, and has lost all common sense.

  2. bonezman says:

    If it was not a gun we’d find another way to kill each other. At lest if we all had them someone would stop the crazy one shooting at everyone sooner.

    That aside, American’s feel desperate to succeed. We’re a failing nation and no one wants that failure to reflect on them. The violence almost always occurs where the person feels most threatened by failure or has already failed. As a society equally suppressed as it is desperate, there are no safe healthy outlets for the pent up frustration so out they come in some violent act. It’s not just the lack of guns in other countries that keep such violent acts of aggression in check, but the acceptance of pleasureful activities where frustration can be safely dissipated in a non harmful manner.

    I’m not just speaking of the repression of sex and sexual choice, but the general puritanic view our society is forcing on itself for the sake of religions that most don’t believe in anymore. Yup.. We are so screwed up it’s not funny. Just over 50 years ago we were a nation of innocents. Now we’ve been exposed full on to what the rest of the world did not shelter itself from and we can’t handle it. Many countries don’t have a huge drug problem. It’s not illegal so both the taboo and criminal element have been removed. Drinking problems are not as sever in most countries with non suppressive drinking laws (we can’t count the Scott and Irish). Even prostitution is far less of a problem in countries that regulate rather than try to eliminate it. Vices are personal issues and not offenses against society. Wise governments steer as clear of them as they can. Education is a better defense against these problems than legislation. Let people know what their getting themselves into and choose what risks are acceptable to them. A concept out government is doomed to never understand, just like social medicine can and does work in nearly every country that has it.

    My $50’s worth.. $0.02 seems to be far too Republican an approach to the problem for me to be that cheap.

    • altivo says:

      “If we all had them” it would be like the Old West, with shootouts in every bar and on every street corner. Sorry, not buying that idea at all.

      Otherwise, you’re correct in my opinion.

    • songdogmi says:

      I am strongly opposed to people carrying guns as a matter of course. It would cause far more serious problems than we already have. As hot-headed and self-centered as the average American is, we’ll look a lot more like Iraq than the “polite society” that the gun advocates envision.

      As for your other paragraphs, I’d want to see or do more analysis. I suspect you’re right, but I don’t know enough about other countries to know whether there’s something being glossed over. Besides, I suspect it’s not just those policies, but something about the make-up of the people who created them. Perhaps it is not the liberal drug laws that means there’s less drug violence and addiction, but the people aren’t prone to the violence and addiction in the first place. I’m just thinking out loud here.

      • bonezman says:

        I had a lengthy response to your first argument which also supported my position on the second, but why argue? Your point that we would be like Iraq if we all had guns holds no water at all since they came from a society where killing has long been an acceptable course of action for settling disputes (note the ceremonial dagger worn by all males who come of age). The wild west shoot out is almost entirely dime store novel myth and historians have been trying to debunk it for some time. For the most part, they just didn’t happen. A hot head may have a gun, but with everyone around him also carrying one as well the last thing he is likely to do is pull it out. Odds of pulling a gun and surviving in an armed society are not very good. polite? Not likely, but a fist fight is more likely even if there is a gun handy.

        The relaxed drug laws and the psyche of those who create them is a chicken or egg argument. They build upon each other and all the countries that have a successful drug control program took many missteps along the way. Growing pains. Something Americans don’t seem to have the patience for. Education, taxation, and treatment seems to be the most effective method of dealing with the drug issue. The taxes collected on drugs pay for enforcement and treatment. Thus the drain on law enforcement funds better spent elsewhere is eliminated and it is treated more as a medical problem. Drug problems gone? No, but they pay for themselves, and eliminate the profits that draw criminals into the formula.

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