Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Are We Shocked?

For the past week everyone has had their say or written about the shootings in Tucson. Well, I might as well take my turn.

First of all I don’t know what caused this particular tragedy. I’m not that smart. But I’m not shocked when something like this happens.

Secondly, I don’t know whom we should hold responsible (other than the shooter). I’m not that smart. But I’m not shocked that someone would commit this heinous act of violence.

Third, I don’t know how to prevent this type of tragedy from happening again. I’m not that smart. But, I won’t be shocked when it does happen again.

Why are we shocked? We live in a violent world. The United States is a violent nation. We like our guns and we like to shoot them. I own guns, several guns including handguns, shotguns and rifles. I like my guns, I like to shoot them; and I will use them to protect my family. I believe that we should have the right to bear arms, but not without rules and limitations. It is way too easy for people to get guns in this country. I don’t have a good answer. I know that deranged people will find a way to act on their violent intentions with or without a semi-automatic and a twenty round clip. I know that criminals will find a way to get weapons. So I’m not shocked when someone uses a gun to commit a violent act.

Why are we shocked? Television, movies and video games deliver messages that violence gets results. Some of my favorite movies are those where the lonely hero exacts bloody vengeance on the evildoers. Who didn’t cheer when, in Lonesome Dove, Gus McRae said “They don't know yet, but the wrath of the Lord is about to descend on 'em come sundown”.
Then he proceeds to single-handedly wipe out the villains who had kidnapped and raped Ms. Lorena. When Denzel Washington goes after Dakota Fanning’s kidnappers in the movie “Man on Fire”, it is a beautiful thing. And I was all for Clarence (Christian Slater) shooting that nasty pimp, Drexl (Gary Oldman) in the ‘nads and then between the eyes in True Romance. However, some people cannot separate reality from fiction. Violence becomes a solution. Violence is justice served, payback earned. So again, I am not shocked when someone commits a violent act.

Why are we shocked….when a madman shooter gets not just 15 minutes of fame, but days and weeks and fame forever? For the crazies out there, the only question becomes…how to go out with a big enough bang. Oklahoma City, Columbine, the Beltway Snipers, Virginia Tech…now Tucson. We want to know about them. We need to know about them. But their desire to be known, or at least to do a thing that will be known forever, is somehow part of their madness. I am not shocked when someone on the edge chooses violence as a pathway to celebrity status.

Why are we shocked when a mentally ill person commits a violent crime? Why are shocked when we find out that a violent act was committed by someone “under the influence”? Why are we shocked that someone did not do something sooner when all the signs were there? Why are we shocked? Because we cannot face reality. We cannot face the reality of a problem that is so huge and so unmanageable, that we know it will happen again. So we pacify ourselves by agreeing to “tone down the rhetoric”, to engage in “more civil discourse”, to be nice and respectful, to not use violent metaphors as we compete in politics, sports and commerce. We agree to tip-toe through the crazies and pray that we are not their next target. Why are we shocked?

No comments: