Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Violence Claims the Lives of Two Journalists

Lately, it feels like commenting on the news means never being removed from images of violence. The deaths of the young local reporter, Alison Parker, and cameraman Adam Ward, were caught on video twice--first by Ward's own camera, and then by the "selfie" video taken by the killer, Vester Lee Flanagan II, which was posted to social media, who went on to fatally shoot himself.

These people were so young and promising, and the newsroom they worked from seemed like such a tight-knit working family, that I am certain their loss is keenly felt. As for the shooter, his history and 23-page long suicide note definitely straddle some areas of concern regarding his mental health, and how in the hell he had more access to a weapon than to psychiatric counseling (he basically seems to me to have become paranoid--every setback was personal, his ideas about what to do in response became more grandiose). And yet, for a person who has developed an idea that people were out to get him, the idea of getting counseling was probably especially appalling  to him. To a person with paranoid ideas, one's self-image is invested in the idea that "I'm alright, it's the bastards who have it in for me who are the problem!"  This kind of resentful outlook is the basis of a lot of workplace-related slayings.

The sad thing is, the idea of such crimes is so familiar now. This year, we are now averaging more than one mass shooting a day. I am starting to wonder, what with the ubiquity of social media and the 24 hour cable news cycle, whether a lot of us have become in a sense, traumatized by proxy, and just go around with some low-key PTSD view that the world is dangerous if not hostile, that violence is like rain or fires in that one doesn't ask "if" but "when" questions about it. The 23-page blather of the shooter shouts out to the Columbine killers and Seung-Hui Cho. We casually refer to these kinds of shootings as "senseless"--but maybe, for a certain kind of mentality, mass killing is the thing that, to them, makes sense of the rotten world they find themselves in.

It seems we need sort out how to locate broken people before they break everyone around them--or at least stop them from doing so. We need to tone down the idea that violence is ever a real solution. We need to see the signs before, not after, the terror has happened. We need to talk about gun violence and how people with no business near a gun find themselves so easily getting access to them.


Formerly Amherst said...

Hi Vixen, naturally there is nothing that can be done to predict the behavior of psychosis. And it is possible that a psychotic might act out in any situation.

Here are a few possibilities that could help.
1. Hollywood does more to promote gun violence than any other entity in the United States. Virtually 90% of all solutions in Hollywood wind up with a problem being solved by people shooting each other. Today it is often an orgy of automatic gunfire with a body count beyond what some soldiers have seen in battle. As a gun owner and an NRA member I can assure you that I'm appalled.
2. It would be a good idea for our culture to stop ginning up racial antagonism and fostering the idea that there is a basis or justification if the violence is directed at white people. There is a certain legitimizing and self-righteousness that accrues to those who attack white people even if a price must be paid. Killing innocent people is not a revolutionary act.
3. Materialism forces people to conceive the idea that any resolution to their problems has to involve a confrontation with society and the material world. When your only answer lies in social action, it justifies a lot of evil that ratifies your power drive.

Tinkkun olam means a fixing of the world, which requires some outward resolution. However, this cannot be done unless one has first accomplish tikkun ha-nefesh, a fixing of the self. The world will never be fixed unless the self is fixed first; there is a variety of approaches to fixing the self, but regrettably, it is only the few who undertake it. As Georges Gurdjieff said, there is help for Man; there is no help for men. The world is an outward expression of our chaotic inner condition. And in the counter-initiation, situations become grave.

mikey said...

You can't fix this with some kind of vague 'better mental health care policies'. And even if you could you couldn't get them funded. The simple fact is that these things happen in America because we have this bizarre, irrational and utterly stupid gun culture. It is cemented by a well-intentioned but ultimately unworkable constitutional guarantee to the right to unlimited access to firearms. It is exacerbated by the ideological position that guns are more than a tool or a device, they are a symbol of America and all she stands for. And it is consecrated by the unquestionable fact that we, as a society, have decided that the almost unimaginable level of gun violence in America is perfectly worth accepting in the name of our holy right to unlimited access to firearms. Until we decide that the cost is too high - and the murders and suicides are a drop in the bucket, the people who are wounded, crippled and seriously injured, the families and friends and communities of the victims, the men (and it's almost always men) who end up incarcerated for decades because of the possession or use of a handgun, and THEIR families, friends and communities who have to go on without them for all those years - until we find the humanity to decide that we have to stop this insane experiment in armed idiocy, we will just continue to see it.

It's not an accident that nations like the UK or Japan have much lower homicide rates than the US. It's not an accident that after they decided the cost was too high and they changed their laws, Australia saw a huge fall in murders and suicides. To pretend it isn't intuitively obvious that if everyone can have as many guns as they can afford to buy, some of them are going to use them is disingenuous at best.

There are ways to work around that odious, stupid second amendment - market based solutions to drive up the cost of handguns and wildly increase their scarcity - but we have to choose that path. Until them we're the most overall barbaric society in the world, letting the base instincts, racial animus and mental instability of our population find expression in gunfire, in the most lethal and concealable weapons in the history of history...