Concerto for blunt instrument

An irregular heartbeat from d.o. to you. Not like a daily kos, more like a sometime sloth. Fast relief from the symptoms of blogarrhea and predicated on the understanding that the world is not a stage for our actions, rather it is a living organism upon which we depend for our existence.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Monkey see, monkey do….revisited

Listening to and reading all the chatter online lately, this observer was reminded that mass killings like the one that took place at Virginia Tech happen in Iraq on a daily basis, courtesy of the Bush regime’s initiated mayhem. The corporate media in the U.S. has, of course, failed to point that out to the citizenry here, preferring to focus on the sensational with classic nationalistic tunnel vision. Pondering these sorry matters, I keep visualizing the everyday virtual violence packaged as entertainment here in the “Land of the Free” juxtaposed with the actual violence taking place, both exported and homegrown. Needless to say, this is not a very pretty picture. I am also reminded, once again, of that tired old cliché Mom used to toss at me when I repeated the mistakes of others: monkey see, monkey do.

According to the Seventh United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems, the homicide rate in the United States is higher than that of other developed countries. Even our own government admits “the United States has the highest rates of childhood homicide, suicide, and firearm-related death among industrialized countries”. Reportedly, Baghdad is the world’s most dangerous city. It wasn’t prior to 2003, though it wasn’t much fun either. They say what goes around comes around, but it may be quite the opposite. Our actions in Iraq could well be a reflection of our actions at home.

As usual, following sad incidents like the Virginia Tech shootings, voices of condemnation on the left blame lax gun laws and voices on the right blame violence in video games and in Hollywood. I wonder, do lefty academics like Joseph Palermo who recently railed on the right over violence in the culture think our culture isn’t violent?? Spare us. Actually, both camps are pretty much on, dare I say, target as to some of the sources of violence in this nation. People, particularly young people, ARE exposed to violent images daily through all forms of media and learn to accept it as well, acceptable! Then, if some tragic turn in their life, or a seemingly endless chain of tragic circumstances pushes them to the edge, the ready availability of guns gives them the opportunity to multiply that tragedy a hundred fold.

One of the outlooks on this gruesome issue that may be neither left nor right comes from Elizabeth Thoman, founder of Media &Values magazine and the Center for Media Literacy. She said:

“Violence cannot be sanitized out of our culture even if, as I predict, and hope, gruesome and gratuitous violence becomes "politically incorrect" in popular entertainment. Over the decades, we've seen the media industry "self-censor" many creative ideas and images from the Amos 'n Andy stereotype of African Americans to the use of alcohol, cigarettes and even hard drugs. Excessive violence can be added to the list.”

If you have any doubts that the culture here in the U.S. isn’t violent there are some things you should know about media violence and media literacy. If we can get beyond the blame game perhaps we can actually make some progress. Yes, we need constitutionally friendly stricter gun-control laws and yes, we need to find constitutionally friendly ways to get all the blood, gore and torture out of our so-called entertainment. Additionally, we need to find better, healthier ways to help parents and their children learn about anger management and non-violent problem solving. All of this is possible. One wonders how many awful incidents like Columbine or Virginia Tech must take place before we make them a real priority.


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