Including the murderer and the murdered at Reynolds High School in Troutdale, OR yesterday, 19 grade school and colleges students have died in what we now so casually call “school shootings” in 2014.
It’s barely June. 19 people.
Stay with me, this isn’t going where you think it’s going.
A lot of people are going to say that guns are the problem. The majority of guns used in these incidents have been legally-obtained weapons, either purchased legally by the shooter (such as the shotgun-toting Aaron Ybarra & stabber/shooter Elliot Rodger) or taken without permission from people who bought them legally.
Saying the problem is guns is easy, but it’s only part of the problem. There are so many guns in the United States that they’re simply everywhere. If you don’t own a gun yourself, you know somebody that has one – at least one. Depending on where you are right now, you might be sitting next to somebody who has a gun on them right now. The vast majority of guns are owned by law-abiding citizens that could never imagine using them in any capacity other than to defend themselves, their family or their property.
The only way to make guns NOT a part of this problem is to remove them from the equation. ALL of them. Nobody but the military & the police have guns and that becomes the new reality of the United States of America.
That isn’t going to happen. Period. It’s time, therefore, to stop talking about guns as being the problem. Gun ownership laws (aka gun control laws) aren’t going to change enough to remove guns from the hands of the vast majority of citizens of the USA.
What else can we point to? Bullying?
Maybe. Maybe bullying is a problem. That cowardly little asshole Elliot Rodger felt bullied by other kids and rejected by women. Those kids that shot up Columbine High School felt bullied and mistreated. Bullying has been going on since school started and while it’s always been a shitty thing, millions of people have dealt with it in other ways than shooting up their classmates. Are we not teaching coping strategies to our children? Are we telling our children, “Oh, well, if that football player picks on you, it’s OK to shoot him in the face, then empty your gun into the pep rally attendees in the gymnasium.”
Of course we’re not. Bullying, then, isn’t the problem. (Don’t get me wrong – it’s A problem, but blaming these school shootings on bullying is what I’m talking about.)
I’m going to go out on a limb here, then, and say that guns and bullies aren’t causing these school shootings.
The media is at fault.
NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, even NPR – they are the reason we’re seeing an increase in the frequency of these school shootings.
Every time one of these cowardly little assholes takes an assault rifle into an elementary school and blows away a bunch of kids, these “reporters” and “anchors” and “experts” spend unimaginably countless hours on TV and radio dissecting every aspect of his personality, digging down into his psyche, his motivations, his difficult childhood – any aspect of the shooter’s life that gets them a little more air time, a few more ratings points.
What it turns into is a fetish, a cult that worships these little fucking assholes who think shooting their classmates is going to get them attention. Why do they think this? BECAUSE IT’S TRUE.
It used to be for the average American to get on TV, they had to streak across the 50-yard line during a nationally-televised college football game. That was a one-and-done event, a laugh on the news that night. Now you too can get talked about on TV for endless hours simply by buying a gun (legally) and using it to attract the media. If you shoot up a school – you don’t even have to kill anybody – then the talking heads on TV and radio will discuss your life in minute detail for days, weeks, even months. They’ll talk about you now. They’ll talk about you when your trial comes up. They’ll talk about you in a year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.
(Think they’ll forget about it in 20 years? Guess what – it’s the 20th anniversary of the murders OJ Simpson was acquitted for. Guess what they’re talking about on TV this week?)
Shooting up a school has become the newest, best way to achieve immortality in our corrupted culture. There is no more sure way to achieve the goal of people paying attention to you than to shoot up a school, movie theater, fast-food restaurant, etc. You’ll be on the “news” and achieve immortality.
The problem, then, is us. That’s right – you and me and every other American. Not the guns, not the bullying, not the misogyny alone – but all of it. USA! USA! USA! We’ve done this to ourselves by creating a culture that glorifies “media,” that thrives on TV shows like America’s Got Talent and American Idol. Our society, our empire, is crumbling around us every day and we’re so oblivious to it that the only way to get any attention now is to get on TV – and what surer way to get on TV is there than to kill classmates? It’s a guaranteed way to get your picture into every American household, to make your name a household conversation piece, to get you mentioned on every channel, station and newspaper in the country.
The solution, then, is for the media to simply stop talking about these events in such morbid depth.
Like eliminating the guns, though, that’s never going to happen. As a society, we have no self-control, and we simply won’t be able to do it. Ever.
We live in the country we’ve built, and we deserve exactly what we’ve created for ourselves.