Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The making of a nutcase

I found myself in a frustrating tangle with a co-worker over the Northern Illinois shootings, which led back to the Virginia Tech shootings. The co-worker - a big fan of gun control - had heard a comment that such shootings justify the idea of allowing people to carry concealed weapons, and he thought it was crazy to use these incidents to increase, not decrease, the availability of weapons.

I tried the analogy of mutually assured destruction - when both sides have access to nuclear weapons, nobody shoots them off - but he wasn't buying. As long as there are crazy people, allowing concealed carry is crazy, he fervently believes.

What's crazy is focusing on the guns. The real question is what makes people misuse them. What disconnect has happened that makes these shooters use real live people for target practice? I'm going to mention video games here, not for censorship purposes, but to ask a more basic question. Clearly these campus shootings resemble video game scenarios: Here comes a person - it's a target - points for blowing it/him/her away. These games proliferate because they're popular.

There's my question: What mind came up with the idea that the killing, maiming and dismemberment of human beings is entertainment? Why are people drawn to these simulated killfests? Do we have some inherent attraction to blood and guts, or have we been trained to cheer on the hero with the biggest gun and the most efficient deathstroke with a sword?

And when we're all trained to enjoy watching imaginary slaughter, should we be shocked when the occasional mind fails to make the connection between fiction and reality? If you train a generation that blood spatter is entertaining, should you be surprised when a sick kid goes off to entertain himself?

The answer is not to ban guns - the weapon is a tool of defense. But these insane incidents are invariably used to advocate for further gun regulation. A better conspiracy theorist than I might theorize that the entertainment industry gave us this wave of violent games and movies in hopes enough sick kids would commit enough violence to make us susceptible to gun regulation, as sleight of hand moves the cause of the violence from the perpetrator to the tool.

I do know this much: Every thug (for example) Jack Bauer blows away in the average episode of 24 was a guy who was born, grew up, went to school, had a few girlfriends, got up that morning and had breakfast - probably had some thoughts about stopping for a burger that night and calling a lady friend or renting a DVD. A long story comes to an end with every flopping body, no matter how cool the manner of his death looks.

Yeah, I know it's a story, and the actors playing the dead guys drove home to their families that night. I'm asking why we think it was cool or amusing or exhilarating to watch those guys "die."
I'm thinking that question will get us a decent answer to NIU or Virginia Tech faster than blaming the guns.

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4 Comments:

Anonymous kyfho said...

The NRA is currently using the spectre of violent illegal aliens to solicit more funds. My response to them was that if they assisted in the elimination of all the 20,000+ laws that violated the Second Amendment and continued to help train individuals to use their firearms safely, the violent illegal alien, and the violent criminal, would likely die during their first attempted crime. No need to deport anyone, and very low rates of recidivism.

Within a few years, we would be the proud owners of a fairly polite, civil, and safe society.

10:31 PM  
Anonymous zeph said...

>And when we're all trained to enjoy watching imaginary slaughter, should we be shocked when the occasional mind fails to make the connection between fiction and reality?

Oh, yeah. Or when people leap off high buildings after watching Superman? Or when they try to stop speeding trains by standing in front of them, like Spiderman?

Surely, the answer is to ban fiction, lest it take unwholesome root in someone's fevered mind.

6:02 PM  
Blogger B.W. Richardson said...

Surely, the answer is to ban fiction, lest it take unwholesome root in someone's fevered mind.

Always a good idea to focus on what a writer says, not what you imagine he intends. Show me where I offered government intervention as an answer to my question.

I offered no answers at all, in fact, because I have none. Only the question: What is entertaining about watching people maimed, dismembered and otherwise killed? I also offer no holier-than-thous, because I confess to a mild 24 addiction.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous darkbhudda said...

One of the previous university shootings were stopped by a student who went and got his gun from his car.

With a gun pointed at him, the shooter dropped his weapon and then was tackled by another student.

Even though the media was told exactly what happened, they only reported that the shooter was tackled.

It's no wonder people believe in gun control when the media covers up the truth.

2:07 AM  

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