Before the tears that fell from the president’s face hit the podium and the US troops deployed to Turkish borders could learn to pronounce “Ahmadinejad”, everyone had an opinion on the Connecticut shooting. Celebrities and politicians all lined up, either to propose stricter gun laws or to say, “now is not the time to politicize”. Even as the details from the Aurora shooting continue to fill news pages and blogs months later, once again we are trapped in a 9600+ hour news cycle where we will be bludgeoned with every detail to emerge from the shooting as hack journalists pontificate back and forth on “how” but never look deeper then family/personal issues as to the “why”.
The situation in our country is a lot deeper then just to propose less guns. First of all, you’re not gonna un-invent the gun; it’s part of our DNA. So those proposing that our violent police force and army should be the only ones with guns are not only fighting a losing battle, but they are wrong. If this was about guns, you’d be able to come up with a mathematic equation that one could apply to predict massacres in every nation, but this only really happens here. Switzerland actually has a higher rate of gun ownership then the US per household, but far less murders by guns. So whether or not people want to ban or restrict guns, it’s not going to address what is at the root of these attacks.
So we must ask ourselves: What is unique in our country compared to the rest of the world? What is unique about America, compared to other western countries? The most obvious thing would be to point out that we don’t have medical/mental care for anyone other than the middle and upper class. The people who are most in need of mental health care can not get it, and if they do get it, they are just fed Prozac and sent home. The mental health industry in our country has long been little more then a fast food drive through for big Pharma. Europe has a a welfare state, a safety net, free universities and free health care. People have upward mobility and live a much higher quality of life than we do, and that is an empirical fact.
We have been in a recession for almost a decade and young people are growing up with less and less prospects for the future. Their parents are overworked and there is no end in sight. There is no hope. The American dream has proven to be a mirage for everyone but the baby boomers. People with no hope for the future do crazy, destructive shit.
We live in the society of the spectacle, a world that is mediated by images and technology and we humans are lost in it. We are in a progress trap, where our technological progress has surpassed our emotional ability to deal with the ramifications of it. Simply said, we have lost all sense of community and emotional support. This in itself is one thing, but combined with the sheer amount of stress that people are under in this new economy it should come as no surprise that alienated people on the fringes with no support lash out like this. Instead of just killing themselves quietly, they do it in a way that will ensure a kind of fame for themselves, picking places which are the most shocking to strike and knowing full well that they will go down in history.
Mass murders are big business for the mainstream news. With all this attention that they devote to covering these events, you would think that they would dig a little deeper than stories that tear at our heart strings about the victims and their families, grieving communities and gun control. I was hard pressed to even find mention of the economy, the mental health system, or alienation in any of the mainstream press. I was able to find a story on bullying on CNN. Yeah, bullying, if that helps the mainstream media and the Obama administration sleep at night, I’m sure there is some concerned parent out there willing to buy that.
If the mainstream media wants to stop this cycle of violence, they could begin by NOT promoting it and profiting from it. They could follow the lead of Sweden, not mention the killer’s name and move on.
There are a million factors that contributed to this, but I’d be remised if I didn’t point out the hypocrisy and jingoistic nature of most of these responses. This is the shit we fund in Gaza; this is what our drones do daily throughout the Islamic world. Tens of thousands of people have been killed by the American Empire in the past 10 years, and you’d be hard pressed to find as many American tears for our victims overseas. That is not to take anything away from this tragedy or equivocate; this was an utterly horrific act. If we really want to put an end to the mass shootings, we must begin to heal the society and culture that spawns them.