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Although not wanting to deal with the reality of gun violence makes you an asshole and you do NOT get a place at the table.

It's not even about mental health

Although the fact that it's harder to get care for mental illness than it is to buy a gun and The fact that budget cuts by Republicans have gutted what little mental health care states provide leaving millions of very sick people in the streets makes me ashamed to call myself human.

No, it's about a culture that enables the mass killing.

What is it about our culture that would drive someone to do such a thing?  Why does a body count matter so much to someone wanting to end it all?

In the next few weeks, we'll hear all about guns, and we'll hopefully hear a little more about mental health, but nothing about the culture that produces them.

And this culture has NOTHING to do with God, Mike Huckabee, so STFU and go back in the corner.  

Consider:  We have had guns in this country forever.  And yet for the longest time, we didn't have the attitude where everything could be solved with a gun.  Even in the earliest Westerns, the heroes were always reluctant shooters, shooting only to disarm.  When did it start?

Certainly one can point to the glorification of the "gun culture" in the writings of the Eastern press who went to Dodge and Tombstone to create media "heroes" like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, "Wild Bill" Hickock, and the like.  Even the criminals were glorified.  The James brothers were murderous thugs who would be on a par with the worst inner city gangbangers today and yet they are still glorified and romanticized.  We average 20 mass shootings a year.  The rest of the world doesn't even average a tenth of that.

But we can't blame literature, or mass media, or music, or video games.  They have these things in other countries and yet they have far fewer mass killings than we do.

Is it indoctrination?

Is it our perpetual war?

Is it our "If it bleeds it leads" media machine?

Is it our lack of serious social welfare?

Is it something else?

I think Jason Whitlock started asking these questions and Bob Costas made them go viral:

I would argue that your rationalizations speak to how numb we are in this society to gun violence and murder. We’ve come to accept our insanity. We’d prefer to avoid seriously reflecting upon the absurdity of the prevailing notion that the second amendment somehow enhances our liberty rather than threatens it.

How many young people have to die senselessly? How many lives have to be ruined before we realize the right to bear arms doesn’t protect us from a government equipped with stealth bombers, predator drones, tanks and nuclear weapons?

Our current gun culture simply ensures that more and more domestic disputes will end in the ultimate tragedy, and that more convenience-store confrontations over loud music coming from a car will leave more teenage boys bloodied and dead.

Andrew O'Hehir takes on the question at Salon:
Media fascination with violence, and the 24/7 news cycle, may have made things worse. “If it bleeds it leads” is a longtime maxim of the news industry, to be sure. By the time Martin Scorsese made “Taxi Driver” in the mid-‘70s, the archetype of the psychotic killer as media hero was well established. But the mass shooting as a collectively created media spectacle, shared by television, the major Internet news portals, the mainstream media’s big names and millions of individuals on social media, has changed the nature of the experience. I do realize the painful and profoundly unfunny irony of raising this issue in a day-after analysis story on the Internet, one of dozens or hundreds you may come across this weekend.
I certainly don't have the answers to these questions.  But these are questions we should be asking.  Have we become so numb to this that mass shootings are becoming the norm?

Is this becoming the price we pay for the Second Amendment?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:29:30 AM PST

  •  Here's a true story (9+ / 0-)

    My son's friend at school's dad, when I last lived in the US, was a gun nut, who worked for a Drone manufacturer.  The 10 yr boy was encouraged to play violent video games, and use a gun at an early age.  

    One day, he says to my younger son, just in my earshot, something about how cool suicide is. And I thought, OMG, this kid is going to either kill himself or grow up to be a school shooter. And there was no way to keep him at arms length.

    I don't think you can separate any of the increased violence in American society at home and abroad from what some 'lone crazies' do.

    10,700 shooting deaths per year, as opposed to around 40 in Germany (size of the country is only 4 times as big).

  •  I think that zenbassoon makes valid points and (8+ / 0-)

    I can't get away from the thought that one of several contributing factors is the prevalence of the action movies and tv shows where the heros single-handedly or in small teams destroy ficitional bad guys with ease.  I remember the cowboy movies and tv shows like Paladin and the early James Bond movies of my youth, but somehow it seems that what happened starting around the time of the Rambo movies is a whole different psychology.  I guess that Rambo and its prodigy are the shows that bother me the most.  I hypothesize that Stallone was able to Ramboize the consciousness of America regarding Viet Nam and in so doing influenced the way our culture looked at that war. When I saw it the first time I couldn't help walking out of the theater feeling better somehow about the whole of what I experienced in 1966.  My mind was saying "yea, we could've and should've won, just like John Rambo."  After willful suspension of disbelief faded I began to think that this is not a good message to be sending.  Then came one movie after another where the heroes basically single-handedly or in small groups blow up th bad guys who change with the times going from communists to lords to eastern European and middle eastern terrorists.  I keep wondering just how much movies like The Expendables and TV shows like Burn Notice create a model of the world that seeps our minds and perversely affects the cognition of potentially unstable individuals.  Probably this is a Just So Story, but I had to get it off my chest.

    Any Jackass can kick down a barn. It takes a carpenter to build one. - Sam Rayburn

    by Old Gray Dog on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 11:52:49 AM PST

  •  I have wondered myself (10+ / 0-)

    I spent 3 years living in Mexico where I was immersed in a different culture. This was long before the drug wars and shortly before NAFTA.

    Immersed in that culture as I was and looking back at our country we appeared collectively insane. We tend to be all about monetary success and little else matters. We neglect and even dismiss the very real support systems that evolve from a close extended family or life long connections with our neighbors.

    To many people are left with no one and no where to turn when things fall apart for them as the inevitably do sometimes. They are treated like human trash. Most will try to hide their illness, weakness, failures,or poverty out of fear those few connections they might have will abandon them

    If you can not learn from a book but are better at hands on you are considered unskilled and therefore your are worthless. I see all of these attitudes right here among those who purport to be open minded and believe in the progression of our society to better places.

    Are all these shootings the cracks beginning to show? It is a frightening thought. We can certainly control guns to some extent but will it fix anything or will it just be one of those out of the frying pan into the fire things?

    I have a strong feeling we all need to look much deeper at our collective attitude and make some major changes.

    It is the heart that makes a man rich. He is rich according to what he is not what he has -Henry Ward Beecher

    by PSWaterspirit on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:05:52 PM PST

  •  Do we have the same content as other countries? (4+ / 0-)
    But we can't blame literature, or mass media, or music, or video games.  They have these things in other countries and yet they have far fewer mass killings than we do.
    Are these ultra-gory vid games allowed in the whole world?
    Killing, maiming, torturing humans in the worst manner is depicted so casually. Violence against women is a huge theme for so many TV programs and movies. Women are screaming in agony everywhere I tune in.
    All this gore and blood and guts and taking pleasure in killing video people, blowing away scores of "people," inures the user to the visuals of violent action. Sick or weak-willed people may find it easier to act using these visuals and practice as inspiration or impetus.
    We've been born and bred on blood and guts, haven't we? We've never really NOT been in conflict somewhere for any length of time. Short breaks, a few years, and new war, new covert ops, whatever, go on.
    Back in the 1950s-early 1960s we were glued to the TV. We watched plenty of cowboys shootin-em-up and detectives and cops shootin-em-up and army guy shows like Combat! featuring WWII where we're shootin-em-up. I was born in 1948. We went to war with Korea 1950-1953. Vietnam 1959-1975, Grenada, Panama, Persian Gulf, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo, plus all the black ops. A lifetime of war, as we've all had.
    It must be in our genes or imprinted on our engrams (I don't know what that means 0_o). We're sophisticated savages. I'm sick to death of it. We'll never prosper in the true sense until we live and let live. We need a national headshrinking.

    I ♥ President Obama. ~ Yes, we did. Again.
    NOW: Hands off SocSec, Medicare and Medicaid. NO Grand Bargain.
    Rich pay a bit more. DoD take a bit less. End war on Afghanistan sooner.

    by OleHippieChick on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 12:52:03 PM PST

  •  Doomsday Preppers culture... (5+ / 0-)

    As others have pointed out in other diaries, the mother is alleged to have been a doomsday-prepper type and that there's an element of that whole twisted social movement (which is just a hair breadth's away from teabaggerism).

    There's a great reality show on Nat Geo channel which you need to see, Doomsday Preppers, if you don't know what we're talking about.  They visit and talk with various families around the country that go to absurd and disturbing lengths to prepare their family and homes for The End, whatever they think that is.  And they all have a different idea of what is going to destroy civilization, no two alike!  Global warming, tectonic movement, nuclear war, dirty bombs, polar reversal, oil prices through the roof destroying the global economy, tsunamis, etc.  It always ends up with the same solution, though: board up the house and collect guns and canned goods.  These guys prepare to make their front yards into killing zones for anybody coming to steal their precious Del Monte green beans.

  •  Good, thoughtful diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, zenbassoon

    We need to think about all the aspects that you have laid out. I hope this diary provokes a lot of discussion.

    I think the selfishness and self-centeredness that's been prevalent in our society has a lot to do with it. I graduated from high school in 1974 but didn't go to college until 1980, and it was right while I was in college where I saw a major change in attitude, from the hippie peace, love, save the environment and help the world philosophy that was prevalent while I was in high school in the 70s to the make as much money as you can, "every man for himself" mindset that took over in the early 80s.

    I witnessed a lot of kids in college at this time switch their majors from something they really liked and wanted to do to business, and when I asked them why and if they liked it, they said no, they hated the classes and probably would hate their jobs, but they wanted to make a lot of money and a business major would allow them to do that. I think it was all around the time of the Reagan presidency and the show Family Ties, when a lot of the kids around me in college idolized the Michael J. Fox character.

    I think the selfish, "every man for himself" attitude causes great feelings of isolation and is at the heart of the problem, along with other factors like the glorification of gangsters, becoming inured to violence that's so prevalent on TV, and violent video games where kids spend hours killing people. A friend's son who loved these video games so much and spent hours every day playing them decided to join the military and become a sniper because of this. And he told them so. He's a good sniper, and at least he channeled this into a positive use and not a negative one, but still, I think it's evidence for the effect these games can and do have.

    •  Oh, yeah (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbassoon

      Forgot to mention that I DO think the ease of obtaining guns, especially the assault rifles, is definitely another factor in the mix and there should be more control. But I think it IS a combination of many of these factors. Put the guns readily into the hands of people influenced by all these attitudes against this background, and what we are experiencing is the outcome.

    •  Another factor (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbassoon

      that just occurred to me, and this may well be a huge one, is the inflammatory, incendiary, extremely hateful speech coming from Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News, and other sources. So many people have their hate talk infiltrate their minds so much so that they think it is normal. And people who are mentally unstable pick up on the things they are saying and feel like they are doing right in carrying them out.

      About an hour ago, I finally wrote a GBCW post on Facebook and said I was steering clear of it for the next week or so, because I can't take seeing all the hateful attacks showing up on my wall against people of the opposite political party in the wake of this heartbreaking event. (It's mainly coming from the right-wingers, but I wrote a general note so as not to be pointing the finger at certain of my friends.) The last straw was a post saying something like "the heartless lefties are so cold-hearted that they are using this heartbreaking incident for political gain to try to get control of our guns." I wrote a note that this is NOT the time to be attacking the right or the left.

      Anyway, it dawned on me that this whole "us against them" mindset and the extremeness of what people like Limbaugh say is also a huge factor, and one that I don't think is so extreme in other countries.

  •  Mass murder with a gun, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    zenbassoon, ladybug53

    the gory details observed and discussed endlessly on the news media for days and weeks after a shooting spree by a disturbed person, has become the gladiatorial spectacle of our culture. It makes me think we are finally going the way of the Romans, totally self centered, violent, infantile. Such a society has no business claiming to hold the high ground on civic virtue or global leadership.

    “The quality of owning freezes you forever in "I," and cuts you off forever from the "we.” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

    by Miss Pip on Sat Dec 15, 2012 at 04:20:21 PM PST

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