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(NOTE: Dr. Giroux has provided written authorization to the diarist to reproduce his work in its entirety for the benefit of the Daily Kos community. Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. Here's the LINK to his website.)

Colorado Shooting Is About More Than Gun Culture
By Henry A Giroux, Truthout | News Analysis
Monday, 23 July 2012 09:51

The current reporting about the recent tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado, is very discouraging. The media response to the alleged murderous rampage by James Holmes largely focuses on the guns he used, the easy availability of the ammunition he stockpiled, the booby trapping of his apartment and the ways in which he meticulously prepared for the carnage he allegedly produced. This is a similar script we saw unfold after the massacres at Columbine high school; Virginia Tech; Fort Hood; the supermarket in Tucson, Arizona; and the more recent gang shootings in Chicago. Immediately following such events, there is the expected call for gun control, new legislation to limit the sale of assault rifles and a justifiable critique of the pernicious policies of the National Rifle Association. One consequence is that the American public is being inundated with figures about gun violence ranging from the fact that more than 84 people are killed daily with guns to the shocking statistic that there are more than 300,000 gun-related deaths annually. To bring home the deadly nature of firearms in America, Juan Cole has noted that in 2010 there were 8,775 murders by firearms in the US, while in Britain there were 638. These are startling figures, but they do not tell us enough about the cult and spectacle of violence in American society. Another emerging criticism is that neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney has spoken out about gun control in the aftermath of the Aurora shooting. Gun control matters, but it is only one factor in the culture of symbolic and institutional violence that has such a powerful grip on the everyday workings of American society. The issue of violence in America goes far beyond the issue of gun control, and in actuality, when removed from a broader narrative about violence in the United States, it can serve to deflect the most important questions that need to be raised.

(continued below the fold)

(continued from above the fold)

Violence saturates our culture both domestically and in our approach to foreign policy. Domestically, violence weaves through the culture like a highly charged electric current burning everything in its path. Popular culture, extending from Hollywood films and sports thuggery to video games, embraces the spectacle of violence as the primary medium of entrainment. Brutal masculine authority and the celebration of violence it embraces have become the new norm in America. Representations of violence dominate the media and often parade before viewers less as an object of critique than as a for-profit spectacle, just as the language of violence now shapes our political discourse. The registers of violence now shape school zero-tolerance policies, a bulging prison-industrial complex and a growing militarization of local police forces. State violence wages its ghastly influence through a concept of permanent war, targeted assassinations, an assault on civil liberties and the use of drone technologies that justifies the killing of innocent civilians as collateral damage. Just as body counts increase in the United States, so do acts of violent barbarism take place abroad. Increasingly, we are inundated with stories about American soldiers committing horrendous acts of violence against civilians in Afghanistan, with the most recent being the murders committed by the self-named "kill team" and the slaughter of men, women and children allegedly by Staff Sgt. Robert Bales. The United States has become addicted to war and a war economy just as we increasingly have become addicted to building prisons and incarcerating minorities marginalized by class and race. And, moreover, we have become immune to the fact of such violence.

Also See: "Henry A. Giroux | Violence, USA: The Warfare State and the Brutalizing of Everyday Life"

Also See: "Violence, USA: An Interview With Henry A. Giroux"

Violence in the United States is a commodity mined for profit, a practice that has become normalized and a spectacle that extends the limits of the pleasure quotient in ways that should be labeled as both pathological and dangerous. We are not just voyeurs to such horrors; we have become complicit and reliant on violence as a mediating force that increasingly shapes our daily experiences. The culture of violence makes it increasingly difficult to imagine pleasure in any other terms except through the relentless spectacle of gratuitous violence and cruelty, even as we mourn its tragic effects in everyday life when it emerges in horrifying ways such as the senseless killing in Colorado. Increasingly, institutions are organized for the production of violence such as schools, prisons, detention centers and our major economic institutions. Rather than promote democratic values, a respect for others and embrace social responsibility, they often function largely to humiliate, punish and demonize any vestige of social responsibility. Our political system is now run by a financial oligarchy that is comparable to what Alain Badiou calls a "regime of gangsters." And as he rightly argues, the message we get from the apostles of casino capitalism carries with it another form of social violence: "Privatize everything. Abolish help for the weak, the solitary, the sick and the unemployed. Abolish all aid for everyone except the banks. Don't look after the poor; let the elderly die. Reduce the wages of the poor, but reduce the taxes on the rich. Make everyone work until they are ninety. Only teach mathematics to traders, reading to big property-owners and history to on-duty ideologues. And the execution of these commands will in fact ruin the life of millions of people."(1) It is precisely this culture of cruelty that has spread throughout America that makes the larger public not merely susceptible to violence, but also luxuriates in its alleged pleasures.

We are a country gripped in a survival of the fittest ethic and one consequence is not merely a form of hyper masculinity and a new-found indulgence in the pleasure of violence, but the toxic emergence of a formative culture in which matters of ethics, justice and social responsibility are absent from what it means to create the conditions for a citizenry able to hold power accountable, produce citizens capable of caring for others and offer the conditions for young and old alike to be able to think critically and act compassionately. Justice in the United States has taken a bad hit and its absence can be measured not only in the vast inequalities that characterize all facets of everyday life from the workings of the justice system to the limited access poor and middle-class people now have to decent health care, schools and social protections, but also in a government that separates economics from social costs while selling its power and resources to the highest bidder. America needs to talk more about how and why violence is so central to its national identity, what it might mean to address this educationally and tackle the necessity of understanding this collective pathology of violence not just through psychological and isolated personal narratives, but through the wider ideological and structural forces that both produce such violence and are sustained by it.(2)

1. Alain Badiou, "The Rebirth of History (London: Verso, 2012), p. 13.
2. I want to thank Brad Evans for his advice regarding the importance of emphasizing structural violence.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

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IMPORTANT NOTE: Dr. Giroux will be interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, tomorrow (am awaiting time/publication/broadcast info from him right now), on the subject matter of this piece from Truth-Out, published ten days ago: “From Penn State to JPMorgan Chase and Barclays: Destroying Higher Education, Savaging Children and Extinguishing Democracy.

#            #            #

Recent Daily Kos re-posts from Truth-Out.org by Dr. Giroux:

"Hoodie Politics: Trayvon Martin and Racist Violence in Post-Racial America," Dr. Henry A. Giroux (4/12/12)

“The ‘Suicidal State’ and the War on Youth,” Dr. Henry A. Giroux (4/15/12)

"Violence, USA: The Warfare State and the Brutalizing of Everyday Life," Dr. Henry A. Giroux (5/2/12)

#            #            #

Via Truth-Out, some background on Dr. Giroux…

Henry A. Giroux

Henry A. Giroux currently holds the Global TV Network Chair Professorship at McMaster University in the English and Cultural Studies Department. His most recent books include: Youth in a Suspect Society (Palgrave, 2009); Politics After Hope: Obama and the Crisis of Youth, Race, and Democracy (Paradigm, 2010); Hearts of Darkness: Torturing Children in the War on Terror (Paradigm, 2010); The Mouse that Roared: Disney and the End of Innocence (co-authored with Grace Pollock, Rowman and Littlefield, 2010); Zombie Politics and Culture in the Age of Casino Capitalism (Peter Lang, 2011); Henry Giroux on Critical Pedagogy (Continuum, 2011). His newest books:   Education and the Crisis of Public Values (Peter Lang) and Twilight of the Social: Resurgent Publics in the Age of Disposability (Paradigm Publishers) will be published in 2012). Giroux is also a member of Truthout's Board of Directors. His website is www.henryagiroux.com.

Here’s more on him from his website
Henry Armand Giroux was born September 18, 1943, in Providence, Rhode Island, the son of Armand and Alice Giroux.

Giroux received his Doctorate from Carnegie-Mellon in 1977. He then became professor of education at Boston University from 1977 to 1983. In 1983 he became professor of education and renowned scholar in residence at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio where he also served as Director at the Center for Education and Cultural Studies. He moved to Penn State University where he took up the Waterbury Chair Professorship at Penn State University from 1992 to May 2004. He also served as the Director of the Waterbury Forum in Education and Cultural Studies. He moved to McMaster University in May 2004, where he currently holds the Global Television Network Chair in English and Cultural Studies.

He currently lives in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada with his wife, Dr. Susan Searls Giroux.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I agree with him on this (15+ / 0-)

    Something I've been saying for some time is that we need to fix the root causes of gun violence. And, surprise, it's not the guns that are the root cause. Though in a million years I could never say it as well as Dr. Giroux.

    Many people thought Bush was "the kind of guy you wanted to have a beer with". People are beginning to realize that Romney is "the kind of guy you want to pour a beer on".

    by ontheleftcoast on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 11:37:32 AM PDT

    •  Yes. You have to look at WHY Americans WANT... (4+ / 0-)

      ...to have so many guns.

      Better regulation of guns would help reduce the consequences of violent acting out, but it would not address the root causes.

      Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

      by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:00:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It is as if the entire society has gone off the (5+ / 0-)

        deep end together. Any meaningful criticism of our society and our addiction to violence is immediately shouted down. We can not have a meaningful discussion about violence and its root causes without somebody shouting that we are denying freedom. Whether it is guns or video games or movies and TV or hate speech on the radio, TV, or internet the reaction is always the same. And it always comes from the vested interests. Are you familiar with the case of the researcher who wanted to find out why online gaming communities were so hostile to women? She was harassed online and through facebook and someone created a video game whose goal was to beat her face into a bloody pulp, using her picture as the target.

        We have become a mean spirited, cruel people and nation. We have become what our enemies said we would become. The abuse of freedom will lead to the loss of freedom. We can't have nice things anymore. The founders expected us to embrace the values of the Roman Republic. They cared about honor and duty. We failed to live up to those expectations. And we are poorer for it.

        •  I'm afraid so. And I see no hope of it getting... (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bobswern, gerrilea, 43north, BlackSheep1

          ...any better. The right wing, which has a vested interest in setting us all at each other's throats, controls all of the major broadcast media and just bombards everyone all day with venom.

          You have to go all the way to the Middle East to find people more violent and confrontational than Americans.

          Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

          by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:18:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  If you stop trying to censor people and infringe (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gerrilea, Meteor Blades

          on their basic freedoms, you'll probably find that people don't accuse you of denying freedom.

          The abuse of freedom will lead to the loss of freedom.
          What does the "abuse of freedom" even mean?

          The Roman Republic valued the rape of slaves and the wholesale slaughter of people who resisted invasion by Rome.

          Many of our founders would be thrilled that a few of us have finally started to outgrow those values.  Others would be disappointed.

          Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

          by JesseCW on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:20:48 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Two parts of the same problem (7+ / 0-)

    Yes THe USA has a gun/violence fettish way beyond anything that I've experienced elsewhere and guns and gun ownership should be heavily regulated.

  •  Yup. The USA is the most violent country... (5+ / 0-)

    ...in the developed world.

    Whether you are talking about rape, domestic violence, assault, battery, knifings, shootings, murders -- whatever -- the USA leads the developed world in every category.

    The USA is a society built on genocide, slavery, and a grotesque sense of individual entitlement, marinaded in the most violent TV, movie and video-game environment on the planet and goaded on by eliminationist hate speech on talk radio 24/7 and the worst, most stressful, most Dickensian working conditions in the developed world.

    And to top it all off, a bunch of inadequately treated mentally ill people running around loose with easy access to firearms.

    Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

    by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 11:55:52 AM PDT

    •  ... (0+ / 0-)
      marinaded in the most violent TV, movie and video-game environment on the planet
      Those are a reflection of our society not what are society is based on.  When you say stuff like that, you're shifting the blame from those responsible to the public at large.  

      The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

      by lcj98 on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:15:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But by not doing anything to address the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        expatjourno, bobswern

        problem we are partly responsible. We have allowed this situation to get worse in the full knowledge of the consequences. And if we do not face up to this no solution will ever be found.

      •  I don't understand what your point is. (0+ / 0-)

        Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

        by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:09:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  A hallmark of progressive values is to shop (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        PavePusher, ER Doc, kestrel9000, wishbone

        where your values are reflected.

        If you believe guns are bad, bad, bad.  The caving into your teen and buying the GTA suite of video games is a poor reflection upon your values.

        It's like subscribing to Fair Labor Association goals, but buying that smartphone or designer wear anyway.

        Your cash outweighs your politics.

        As Americans, we've done a great deal to leave a semblance of right vs. wrong behind.

        Leaving my house at 3 am with a shotgun in my hand, as unwanted visitors are in my yard, is patently illegal.
        "Criminal menacing with a firearm".

        40 years ago, that would be expected behavior upon my part.  Black, white, asian or hispanic, expected behavior.

        a) it's 3 am.
        b) it's my house
        c) what the hell are you doing here?

        Now?  It's someone who's "misguided" or possibly "unstable" or "under the influence" and in any case "not responsible for their actions".  

        I'm wrong, they're right - and the cops are only 10 minutes away.

        To quote my fiancee:  "Whole lot of dying can be done in 10 minutes".

        Thus, a victim of society, who may have criminal intent upon me or my property, shall be cared for by the system.

        You're told: that's what cops are for.
        That's why you - as a homeowner, should have video which the cops can view, and make an arrest of those persons - if warranted.
        If they scuffle with you... no weapon involved, you may be charged for assault, regardless of this being your property.  
        At 3 am.  

        They had equal right to be here, as they were only "mistaken".

        What happens after that amount of Nanny-panby bullshit?

        Republicans with: Stand Your Ground.

        Resulting in:  Trayvon Martin.

        Unacceptable.

    •  Our movies and video games are hugely popular (0+ / 0-)

      in European nations with murder rates a quarter of ours.

      You're going to have to find another boogie.

      Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

      by JesseCW on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:22:25 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Try reading less selectively. (0+ / 0-)
        The USA is a society built on genocide, slavery, and a grotesque sense of individual entitlement, marinaded in the most violent TV, movie and video-game environment on the planet and goaded on by eliminationist hate speech on talk radio 24/7 and the worst, most stressful, most Dickensian working conditions in the developed world.

        And to top it all off, a bunch of inadequately treated mentally ill people running around loose with easy access to firearms.

        Way to take a phrase out of context, Jesse. Movies and videogames are not some special "boogie" of mine, as the full comment shows. However, I LIVE in Europe and have lived in Europe for more than 20 years. And, just FYI, there is nothing like the total immersion in violent entertainment here that there is in the U.S.

        Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

        by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:33:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I guess all that British Television sporting (0+ / 0-)

          gunplay is something the BBC just pretends to air at home so they can market it abroad?

          Video Game manufacturers and film studios must lie about their European revenue.

          This is a sad game.  

          Make a big pile of your pet peeves, tie a bow around it, and call it "The Reason" for a tragedy.

          Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

          by JesseCW on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:45:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Can you really not read what is in bold type? (0+ / 0-)

            Or are you just trolling?

            There are seven things in that list. And yes, I certainly can compare the level of immersion into violent entertainment here vs in the U.S. There is MORE of it n the U.S. I didn't say there was NONE of it here.

            Take your head out of your ass and stop trying to pretend I'm saying something I'm not.

            Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

            by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 03:00:30 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Umm... (0+ / 0-)

          That can easily be said about the Europe also.  But of course, that doesn't go along with your meme that the US is a shithole.

          The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

          by lcj98 on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 03:11:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not truthfully, it can't. (0+ / 0-)

            But go ahead. Defend the values and culture of the most violent country in the developed world if it makes you feel better.

            Forget any effort to examine those values and that culture. Keep believing the USA is a city on a hill and you have nothing to learn from anything any other country does.

            Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

            by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 03:16:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Yep. I posted a related comment earlier (0+ / 0-)

      today, in another diary (where it was admittedly poorly placed).

      I'm reposting it here because I really do think "I'm onto something" with these insights into violence in our culture. If student response to this theory as I present it is any indicator, heck, it may even have the potential for "fixing" a thing or two, at least on a very small, local scale.

      It's a comment that's probably poorly placed anywhere (on a blog, oh, admiring frog!....but better here than over there).

       In my classes on "urban black culture" at a college in the hood, I present things this way.

      Fact: genocide (as defined by the UN Convention on Punishment and Prevention of Genocide) was committed against American Indians and African Americans in this country. (This fact remains largely unacknowledged, and thus stands in the way of any prospect for healing).

      Fact: there is a homicide epidemic in the "hood" (esp among youth).

      Fact: there is a suicide epidemic in American Indian communities (esp. youth)

      These homicide/suicide epidemics are pathological responses to the wound/crime of genocide that was perpetrated against these populations. (Homicidal pathology is what happens when the people are taken from their homelands; suicidal pathology is what happens when the homelands are taken from the people).

      Normally, in order for a country/people to heal from genocide, the genocide must first be acknowledged, and from there the long, difficult healing process can begin (cf. post-WWII Germany, post-Apartheid SA).

      Because the US (both its gov and its people) refuse to acknowledge the genocide, this mutual healing process is thwarted--the homicide epidemic in Black communities and suicide epidemic in American Indian communities continue because there is no "platform" for healing from the aftermath of genocide: those pathologies are responses to unresolved genocidal history/aftermath.

      There's not a lot we can do to force the perpetrator population to admit the crimes that have been committed against Blacks and Indians, there's nothing we can do to make the US follow the German or South African example and attempt to "make good" on what can't really be "made good on" anyway, but what we in our communities can do is recognize these pathologies for what they are and change OUR role. Anything else is really just "Do-It-Yourself-Genocide"--killing ourselves and each other so "they" don't have to.

      But the perpetrator-population of genocide also needs to heal, and if it doesn't, sooner or later, some pathology will rear its ugly head in response to the unaddressed wound of a genocidal legacy.

      My theory is that these white male mass murderers manifest the pathology of unresolved genocide in the perpetrator population.

      that's some really scary shit.

  •  Everytime (7+ / 0-)

    I read a piece about violence in America, whether from the right or the left, my first reaction is always the same:

    Violence in America has been declining rapidly for 25 years.  The murder rate today is lower than at any time since the 1950's.

    The murder rate has declined at the same time the use violent video games  has increased.  The murder rate has declined as the number of guns has increased.  It has declined even during the Great Recession. It has declined even as the number of people on food stamps has grown.  As the number of kids in divorced homes has increased.

    The interesting thing is this is the basic fact is inconvenient to both the left and the right (how can society be breaking down if the murder rate is declining). This fact isn't mentioned in this interview.  You will never, EVER, hear a conservative mention this as they drone on endlessly about the decline of morals in this country.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

     Wikipedia's stats are a little old, but:

    The year 2010 was overall the safest year in almost forty years. The recent overall decrease has reflected upon all significant types of crime, with all violent and property crimes having decreased and reached an all-time low. The homicide rate in particular has decreased 51% between its record high point in 1991 and 2010.

    From 2000-2008, the homicide rate stagnated.[9] While the homicide rate decreased continuously between 1991 and 2000 from 9.8 homicides per 100,000 persons to 5.5 per 100,000, it remained at 5.4-5.7 until 2009, when it dipped down to 5.0, and continued to drop in 2010 to 4.8.

    Despite the recent stagnation of the homicide rate, however, property and violent crimes overall have continued to decrease, though at a considerably slower pace than in the 1990s.[9] Overall, the crime rate in the U.S. was the same in 2009 as in 1968, with the homicide rate being roughly the same as in 1964.

    The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

    by fladem on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 11:58:40 AM PDT

    •  I think you should read more of Giroux's work... (5+ / 0-)

      ... (see various links, in the post, above) since this is just about the most brief piece I've seen him write in the past six months. His work is extremely well-referenced/annotated, and quite thorough. Then again, as the headline states: the "Colorado Shooting Is About More Than Gun Culture."

      He actually agrees with many of the statements you make. However, this issue--violence in U.S. society--transcends the "left/right" concepts you ascribe to the matter, in your comment.

      But, we're all entitled to our respective opinions.

      Simple question: Gun sales in the U.S. are at an all-time high. Why is that?

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:05:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Partly because of the irrational fear that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe shikspack, expatjourno

        Obama is going to take our guns away.  Check the guns & ammo sales stats right before/after the election.

        Seriously.  I don't get where this comes from.  As my dad said to someone who was going on about this: I'm 70 years old.  I've hunted & owned guns all my life.  Why would I believe that that is going to change now?

        Republicans: if they only had a heart.

        by leu2500 on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:04:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Mass paranoia. n/t (0+ / 0-)

        Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

        by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:18:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Because, for a small minority of gun owners, (0+ / 0-)

        guns have become fetishes.

        I mean that in the clearest definition of the term.  They have become magical talismans.  

        They're tiger proof spoons.

        While only a small minority of gun owners feel that way about their guns - most see them as tools - those who do buy a hell of a lot of guns.

        Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

        by JesseCW on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:25:01 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I can't rec this comment enough. (5+ / 0-)

      After remaining flat or increasing for essentially the entire span of available data, at some point in 1994, the per capita rate of violent crime began declining rapidly. Shockingly rapidly, in fact - faster than it ever increased.

      It has continued to decline at about the same rate since. By 2009, violent crime was down about 60% from its peak in 1994. All violent crimes are down - murder, rape, robbery, assault.

      http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/...
      http://www.moralityindex.com/...

      Yes, there's still a lot more work to be done. Yes, the ultimate goal is zero. Maybe we are a 'sick' society. But the fact is that we are already getting better. And we're doing so even while most of the usual scapegoats for violence (from both sides) - video games, guns, violence on the news, atheism, porn, rap, single parents, divorce, gay parents, etc, etc - are becoming increasingly common.

      So we need to stop flailing around with blind speculation about what we're doing wrong. Instead, we need to figure out what we're doing right and how we can do more of it.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:17:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The evidence is (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        joe shikspack, expatjourno

        that the only factor at work here is the aging of the population. It's pure dumb luck.

        •  ?? (0+ / 0-)

          So we can't learn from what we're doing right?

          The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

          by lcj98 on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:04:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That's ridiculous (5+ / 0-)

          and impossible.

          1) Most violent crime is committed by young men in their late teens and early 20s. That population was at a minimum in the 80s, going into the early '90s, when Gen X was coming of age. It began to increase again somewhere in the early '90s as the leading edge of the 'echo boom'/late gen X/early Millenial population hit adulthood. In other words, the number of men in the peak-violent-crime age range began to increase at almost exactly the same time that the overall rate of violent crime began to decrease.

          2) Even if we were to concede that the explanation were plausible, the data don't support it. Per-capita arrest rates peaked in 1994 for all age groups except 45+, and have now subsided to near-1980 levels for all age groups. Young people (under 25) were committing less violent crime per capita in 2009 than in 1980, and far, far less than in 1994. The only age group committing more violent crime now than in 1994 is middle-aged people.

          http://www.ojjdp.gov/...

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:11:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, and if you look closely (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          fladem

          at that graph, you'll see that the 'crossover' where the 2009 rates increase above 1980 rates is around age 25.

          In other words, the youth/young adults who were responsible for the violent crime 'peak' in 1994 (i.e. ages 10 and over) are the same people who are still committing more crime than people of the same age were doing in 1980.

          That is, there appears to be a persistent effect. We have a generation of people who are more violent than the historical trend. It is not, however, the current generation of teens/young adults - it's not the ones who grew up with videogames and high-budget violent action movies. We are the least violent since the trailing edge of the Boomers. Why?

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:25:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  And maybe it has a lot to do with young men (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Abra Crabcakeya, kyril, Nina Katarina

          hanging out at home playing those violent video games with friends instead of going out to clubs or road houses and getting into fights.

          Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

          by JesseCW on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:26:44 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  That is just completely wrong. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

          by fladem on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 06:35:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  You ask "how can society be breaking down (3+ / 0-)

      if the murder rate is declining"?

      I don't believe that just because we are seeing a decline in murder rates that we are also not witnessing a decline in our society. We, as a society, condone violence in most aspects of our lives including sports, entertainment, movies, and our broad willingness to pour obscene amounts of our treasury into our miltary and warfare operations (special ops, CIA, etc). This has it consequences for a people that are angry, bitter and pessimistic about their future.

      But really, this lengthy article from Giroux (as highlighted in the diary by the author)  does a superb job of making the case much more convincingly that I will ever in a thousand years.

      It takes time to practice generosity, but being generous is the best use of our time. - Thich Nhat Hanh.

      by Frank In WA on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 01:42:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "violence is not the answer" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack, bobswern, allenjo

    rings kind of hollow when you've got a Trillion Dollar "defense" budget and drones and "strike teams" and roaming the world.  Not to mention "lily pads" everywhere . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 11:59:45 AM PDT

    •  ... (0+ / 0-)

      One has nothing to do with the other.

      The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

      by lcj98 on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:06:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  of course not, say have you seen those war video.. (4+ / 0-)

        games that the army gives away "free" to kids to get them interested in joining the military and killing people?

        apparently,  a lot of the violence-glorifying video games that the private sector makes fail to put the proper military branding on the products to direct the kids to the army.

        i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

        by joe shikspack on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:20:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Right... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril

          because every single Army recruitment office has lines circling the block at this very moment.

          The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing online commenters that they have anything to say.-- B.F.

          by lcj98 on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:35:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The kids who have been raised on those games (0+ / 0-)

          commit fewer violent crimes than any previous generation of Americans.

          Thinking the "food stamp challenge" teaches you about being poor is like thinking a camping trip will give you insight into being homeless.

          by JesseCW on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:29:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  But they are connected. (5+ / 0-)

        We fought an illegal, immoral war with no justification and the overwhelming support of the American public. I refer of course to the Iraq war. We asked no questions of our leaders. That poses major ethical questions for our society. The question is not how do guns impact crime. Rather the question is why are we so much more violent than other countries on a per capita basis. Per Paul Krugman's article in yesterdays New York Times blog crime is down dramatically since the 70s on a per capita basis. But it is still way higher than the rest of the world over the same period of time. So why are we so violent?

      •  How wrong you are. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        43north, Deward Hastings

        A basic premise of American culture is that violence, from spanking to tazing to nuking is a great solution. They are all related.

        Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

        by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:22:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I Dislike the Term "Popular Culture" Because It (7+ / 0-)

    doesn't arise from the people, it's a commercial product fabricated by a relative small number of corporations.

    During WW2 commercial culture was war oriented, and in the 50's & 60's as the cold war marched on, commercial entertainment was full of direct world war portrayals and indirect world war portrayals in the form of westerns in which gun battles were often much bigger than the historic OK Corral shootout.

    Because of more than half a lifetime of having lethal enemy empires and memories of two world wars, during which the succession of regional wars we've been running arose, there's been tremendous commercial value in maintaining a high level of violence in commercial culture.

    Mainstream discourse and the public square where it takes place are both Constitutionally the private property of the rich and their biggest enterprises. Whatever the people need to talk about, it's not within their capability to do it.

    There will need to be a major discontinuity in this country before the people can converse without the permission and supervision of their owners.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:01:30 PM PDT

  •  gee could there be something in our culture... (4+ / 0-)

    or means of social organization that makes fantasies of violence particularly appealing to large numbers of people?  could it be a reflection of the violence inherent in the system?  

    gosh, i wonder...  (but not for long)

    i'm part of the 99% - america's largest minority

    by joe shikspack on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:02:19 PM PDT

  •  Our love of loud explosions and high speed chases (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joe shikspack, bobswern, expatjourno

    is clear when listening while walking past a row of action movies playing in a multiplex theater.

    We are an adrenalin seeking culture that values the realistic enactment of fear inducing scenes of violence and death.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 12:02:31 PM PDT

  •  Ah a little (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, expatjourno

    context and a truthful look at the heart of the matter. So glad to read what many refuse to even acknowledge. The idea that 'evil' is something outside of us and that violence is not evil but protection or a sacred right of some sort. Our culture and  institution's are becoming more and more violent and cruel. We always we're as they love to say a violent wild west society, but since 9/11 we have removed all the stops and gone down the slippery slope and now firmly on the dark side.  

    I found it ironic that this happened in a dark movie version of a comic book hero who with each new movie in the current series pumps up the violence porn and darkness a little more. Guy Ritchie's latest Sherlock Holmes release had as it main star bullets and big fucking gun barrels an homage to violence and arms. The villain and hero alike played second fiddle to the big lovely guns in slow mo and fast frame, close up and in 3d. Coming soon to a theater near you.

    Maybe we should look at what heat were packing inside it sure doesn't seem well concealed to me. Censorship or gun laws cannot fix the evil were packing as a culture until we start looking at hatred, fear killing, punishment, bigotry revenge, torture poverty and greed as the world as we find it and then accept that it  is American and that it's 'the world as we find it'.

    The biggest tradgedy of all is that we have literally lost the only right that matters, the biggie, those inalienable universal human rights. They offer the only protection we humans have and they are not conditional. I read where conservatives have more nightmares then liberals, as they are more afraid of change and the world around them.

    These days we all have to live in this dark nightmare 'inevitable' world. I may have to live in it but I truly resent being told by fearful violent people who believe in this dark nightmare, that I should respect the gun lovers rights, and 'bone up' on guns cause they cannot be stopped from packing heat. What sporting about killing 'pest's' or critters with maximum velocity?  

    To add insult to injury I'm told by angry gun toting bullies that it's protection. Where have I heard that before? 'Keeping you safe' or 'Terrist's are going to kill yer family'. Meanwhile we lose all our humanity and any sense what common good even looks like. We entertain ourselves by watching torture, violence, death and cheer on our 'hero's'.  We play video games that develop mad skills for killing villagers who might threaten our way of life or keep us from getting their resources or just happen to live in places we want for geopolitical madness. Torture is normal and necessary.

    Weapons are not the only violence and viciousness we perpetrate on people. We regard poverty as a crime and we refuse to take care of people unless they can pay the banksters and pols their vig, slave labor we need it to compete.  We make prisons a profitable business. Murder by spreadsheet is not a crime it's business. Austerity for those who have nothing to begin with is required as it's a sacrifice that's necessary for what?

    Piles of bodies, an unlivable world and profit for the winners? Nothing remotely democratic or even tolerable about what we have become. Fuck the NRA and every violent asshole including the pol's who calls people and the earth collateral damage as they pillage kill and rape anything that stands in the way of their insanity.

    Everything our country does is a fucking war and involves killing. We have created an endless war where the world is one big battlefield. Our enemies are anyone who the biggest assholes decide is an enemy of the state.

    Packing heat when the planet is burning up seems to me to be just insane as well as evil. The best of two evils in our politics still keeps the cruelty and violence in place and is touted as the way forward.

    guess I'm done with my little rant, speaking of heat. thanks again for bring some basic truth and humanity to dkos.  

  •  The only other places where people even want... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    ...so many guns are places like Somalia.

    Think about it.

    People in England, France, Sweden, Japan, et cetera, aren't angrily demanding more guns only to be thwarted by regulations.

    I live in Sweden now, where a lot of people hunt. People who hunt have the appropriate rifles or shotguns. Someone who wanted to have an assault weapon (or even a handgun) would be seen as some kind of a homicidal lunatic.

    There's no demand over here for the kind of weaponry that American gun fetishits insist on having.

    I say it's time to create a new Catch-22: Pass a law that says every sane person has a right to own an assault weapon. But anyone who wants one isn't sane enough to have one.

    Instead, we have a system that makes it easier to buy something designed for the express purpose of killing other human beings than it is to vote.

    Now THAT'S obscenity.

    Barack Obama: Gives people who tortured other people to death a pass, prosecutes whistleblowers. Change we can believe in!

    by expatjourno on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 02:16:20 PM PDT

  •  Violence saturates our culture (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern, 43north

    ergo
    The unrelenting (culture) war on peace loving pot smoking hippys

    Our president has his failings, but compared to Mitt Romney he is a paradigm of considered and compassionate thought.

    by OMwordTHRUdaFOG on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 03:55:21 PM PDT

  •  Bob, please, more paragraph separations... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bobswern

    ...to make this important piece easier to read.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 05:43:57 PM PDT

    •  This is the way Giroux writes...I was very... (0+ / 0-)

      ....tempted (on multiple occasions) to make the same request of him, directly (as recently as earlier today), and I just couldn't bring myself to ask the guy! (But, I will. LOL!)

      "I always thought if you worked hard enough and tried hard enough, things would work out. I was wrong." --Katharine Graham

      by bobswern on Mon Jul 23, 2012 at 09:12:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It looks as if Giroux had some French influence (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bobswern

        on his writing style. The French usually don't separate into "small" paragraphs (neither do Germans and Italians). They have paragraphs often half or 3/4 pages long. The first thing we learn on US universities is to ... make our paragraphs shorter. :)

        Just saying.

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