Remember the massacre at Aurora, Colorado, maybe 20 miles from Columbine? Yeah, I know. Barely. Aurora was before Newtown and after Columbine and Virginia Tech. And well before Fort Hood. We’ve already started characterizing these barbarities as “incidents”.
Aurora was life imitating art. The young man colored his hair red and called himself “The Joker”; comic book Batman’s arch nemesis was going to spoil the midnight showing at the movies.
Our young man had no trouble at all buying four guns at local gun stores and chemical weapons, full body armor, a gas mask and some six thousand rounds of ammunition over the internet. He had it all shipped directly to his school dorm and to his apartment – over 60 deliveries by UPS alone. Fifteen thousand dollar’s worth of shit.
Did anyone ever ask why this kid, who wasn’t a cop or in the military needed full body armor?
Naah. This is a free country. And there’s money to be made.
As it turned out, our kid was supposedly a brilliant neuro-scientist, a loner and totally forgettable if you passed him on a street or saw him on a bar stool. No criminal record. No Face Book page; no girl friend; no close buddies.
Forgettable. I’m typing this and I can’t remember his name.
He graduated with honors and then like millions of others couldn’t find a decent job. What’s new?
His mother knew right away when she heard of the killings. She knew it was her son.
The media quickly got into their hot tragedy cycle interviewing the crying teens, local police, neighbors and of course the “expert” profilers.
Soon we saw the funerals, kids marching with candles, make shift memorials in front of the theater, therapists with tables set up in local schools for those needing “someone to talk to” and help “getting through this”
Then came the talk of “healing” and “moving on”. As is usually the case the vast majority of those professing to need help and support knew no one in the theater, knew no one who was hurt, lost no one; but they needed help anyway. Perhaps they just have trouble handling the fact that this could happen in “their town” – the nice, suburban, good Christian town where they live in two story houses with nice lawns. Maybe it’s kind of like guys who wear military combat decorations they never earned.
Perhaps it’s a way to connect to something without really being connected – to belong.
The media searched for “reasons”. There has to be a reason.
There are lots of them I guess and in some finite place in space and time they all came together in a movie theater.
The availability of guns – especially assault weapons which no one uses for deer hunting. Chemical weapons and combat gear readily available on the internet, the latest in new guns and armor glorified on the military channel. Neither Romney nor Obama dared mention the word “guns”. Too chickenshit – both of them. Only Bloomberg opened his mouth and uttered the magic word.
“Violence in the media” will scream others; even the movie was violent which is the reason the theater was packed. Our kids are exposed to it from a very early age – in movies, TV, video games, porn, bullies in school. This very weekend the box office smash was “Captain America” – more exceptionalist cartoon bullshit.
No one will say how desensitizing constant images of violence are to the humanity of others. Hollywood pulled back temporarily after Aurora on the all out marketing of several movies not wanting to appear “insensitive”. All they are worried about is the money. There was a movie coming out where a bunch of gangsters with tommy guns, 1930s style, take to the stage of a movie theater and blast the audience. We never saw that trailer. Now it’s back to business as usual.
Sure, tens of millions of kids play video war games – the winner is the one who kills the most and accomplishes “the mission”. Tens of millions however wouldn’t even consider joining the military; that is for “other people” It’s so much easier to play the game. Besides, the vast majority of games are highly eroticized – plenty of bare naked babes to blast.
As for porn, all the women are “hot”, pliant, submissive and shaved. Every kid loves porn, especially when she does exactly as she’s told.
Conservatives were ranting about how those Hollywood liberals named the evil character in the Batman saga “Bane”. (remember Bain Capital = Romney); It was enough to make you want to take out your guns and defend the Constitution.
Were the killers mentally ill? Finding our Joker mentally ill neatly solved all of our problems. We don’t have to address gun violence, media, video games, bullying, the eroticization of violence, loneliness and isolation.
He must be mentally ill otherwise he would be just like us.
We can’t seem to admit to ourselves that he is us. He is our son, the native son of 21st Century America where we don’t care about anybody but us.
Sitting on a military base outside of Las Vegas or here in Tampa there is an NCO flying a drone tens of thousands of miles away in the sky over a people who cannot make a washing machine and who ride donkeys. Our NCO looks at his screen and presses his buttons to “accomplish the mission”. He is not shooting at humans as he obliterates a house or a village. They are “bug splats”.
If he kills kids, which he often does, they are “collateral damage”. Our government will offer the parents perhaps $500 in “compensation” for their kid.
This is the “exceptional” society in which we live. We hear the cries of no one. We see the loneliness of no one. Most of us do not know nor care to know our neighbors living three houses away. It’s our dog eat dog, every man for himself country. We judge our communities by the quality of the lawns.
We don’t give a rat’s ass if people are hungry, children die of malnutrition, veterans are living in our streets, most of the homeless are schizophrenic, that people die because of a lack of health care, or that we have spent a decade waging unjustified war against a couple of third world nations and have killed millions of Iraqis and Afghans. Not to mention what we do elsewhere.
Our Joker and the others before him, at Columbine, at Virginia Tech, and after him at New Town are the symptoms of our societal illness.
The media and the toys, the politicians and Hollywood teach our children that real American heroes have no humanity. When the lonely, isolated forgettable young man turns his guns on us, the ones we allowed him to acquire as is his NRA god-given right, why are we so surprised?
My sympathy to the families of those truly affected – those who lost someone or those with someone gravely injured in senseless violence. The rest of us can look in the mirror and take part of the blame.
In Newtown we had another example – a young man, supposedly “brilliant” but a loner, “a skinny goth”, dressed all in black, ninja style, murdered 20 children and six adults including his mother, supposedly with his mother’s guns. She was described as an “avid collector”, who took this unstable young man to the gun range on a regular basis. He dressed as art before he killed children.
How many have died violent gun deaths in the year following Newtown?
Number of people killed by guns, including homicide, suicide and accidental death since Newton that have been reported by the media: 11,437
Estimated real number of people killed by guns, including homicide, suicide and accidental death since Newton (using most recent CDC estimates for yearly data): 33,173
Total gun deaths in 2010 (the latest year for which there are CDC records): 32,672
number of those who were children or teens: 2,694
Number of school shootings since Newtown: 26