So unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve heard of the new school shooting that happened in America yesterday morning; this time in an elementary school by yet another deranged individual. Every time there is some horrific tragedy like this the American media collectively orgasm in their pants with excitement. They love it when this type of thing happens and they’re fucking sick human beings for it. They need tragedy, they need grief, fear, and human misery to keep you glued to their “coverage.” Clinical psychiatrists have come out time and time again pleading with the media not to cover these stories because they inevitably inspire copy-cat killers and just fuel the ego of the sick individuals who perpetrate these acts. Does the media care what the clinical psychiatrists say? Fuck no. It’s not about stopping these acts, it’s about ratings. Ratings, and consequently the money the earn from those ratings, is more important that human lives and suffering. Fucked up and disgusting, but that’s the truth. The “news anchors’ these pampered, dolled up husks of human beings will describe to you the misery of others with a twinkle in their soulless eyes.
In the rush to be “first” to cover a heartbreaking story, facts don’t matter. The media named the killer Ryan Lanza when it was his older brother Adam. Not only was Ryan suddenly confronted with the horror that his brother just murdered his mother and a bunch of children, but now he was quite possibly in danger for his life as well. Within minutes there were multiple Facebook groups condemning Ryan to hell.
The mindless mob then went on the witch hunt for anything remotely connected with the person wrongly accused of the committing the massacre. For example: Ryan “Liked” the video game series Mass Effect, a series I, myself, am very fond of. Well the public, whipped into a frenzy by the media, started to decry the evils of this video game they knew nothing about. (click to enlarge)
In a nutshell, Mass Effect is a science fiction roleplaying game about saving the galaxy from a race of alien robots. It has nothing to do with anything remotely connected to a school shooting (but since when have facts mattered?). Before all the information was available, the governor of Connecticut pleaded with the media not to speculate on the number of dead. Wolf Blitzer, of CNN, reported this and then immediately started to speculate about the rumored death toll, all with a straight face and without skipping a beat. FOX news, not to be outdone, even went so far as to try and interview a child about the trauma she just witnessed, a trauma she’s most likely unable to even comprehend.
How much you want to bet FOX news got a parental release formed signed by Sofia’s parents so they could interview an 8-year old about her classmates being butchered? The victims are not human beings to these people, they are tragedies to be exploited for profit. It’s fucking sick. While reading over a discussion of the media’s reaction to the shooting on Reddit.com, I came across an insightful comment a user made quoting Robert Ebert (a movie critic) talking about his review of the movie “Elephant.”
Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. “Wouldn’t you say,” she asked, “that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?” No, I said, I wouldn’t say that. “But what about ‘Basketball Diaries’?” she asked. “Doesn’t that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?” The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it’s unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. “Events like this,” I said, “if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn’t have messed with me. I’ll go out in a blaze of glory.”
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of “explaining” them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.
The main focus of this post is on the tragedy that unfolded yesterday in Connecticut but I would like to point out something else I find interesting, something that is likely to upset a lot of people in a very particular way. I imagine many will react with ‘now is not the time!”, however it is precisely at times like this that the contrast I’m trying to elucidate is so clear. We have a refined sense of selective outrage in this country. There’s a quote from the Joker in the movie “The Dark Knight” that encapsulates this very succinctly. In this scene the Joker is talking to Harvey Dent about plans, chaos, and society:
You know what, you know what I noticed? Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even if the plan is horrifying. If tomorrow I tell the press that like a gang banger, will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all, part of the plan. But when I say that one, little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!
Even if the plan is horrifying.
We, as a nation, routinely murder innocent civilians, including children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut. However, when we murder civilians, we do it with flying drones and laser guided missiles in far away lands. We watch them die on little CCTV monitors and go about our day. 98% of the people we murder are not the people we intended to murder, rather, they are collateral damage. Perhaps I was wrong in saying “children like those murdered yesterday in Connecticut.” There are some glaring differences between the children in Connecticut and the children overseas. The children overseas are of a different skin tone, religion, country, and speak a different language. I guess that’s enough to make their lives not matter. Never mind everything they have in common, most importantly of which is being human.
Amelia, over at Imaginary Playgrounds, has a section in a post that I believe sums up why such selective outrage exists.
Within a sick, violent society, all people are taught violence. We are told to look at those who commit violence as role models, so long as that violence takes place within certain relationships where violence is culturally sanctioned. Violence is socially acceptable when authorized by a legitimized authority, and considered unacceptable when performed outside of an authority’s approval. To give an example, a police officer shooting an unarmed person of color is often overlooked, and when it is brought up, excuses are made, and the blame is placed on the victim. Yet, when a person of color defends themselves against police violence and injures a cop in the process, it is viewed as a heinous, irredeemable act of violence. Violence is socially acceptable when performed in service of dominant social ideologies, and unacceptable when it disrupts or subverts dominant social ideologies. A straight, cis man can kill a trans sex worker and get away with it, often being able to use her trans status as a justification, but when a trans woman of color defends herself against a racist, transphobic attacker, she is charged with murder and sentenced to 3 years in prison.
In this case it’s a man killing a group of school children with a gun versus a man killing a group of school children with a rocket fired from a remote controlled plane. In our society, as long as the violence is directed in a direction we’ve been taught is acceptable, irregardless that the end result of the violence is just as horrifying independent of who’s doing it to whom, we have no problem with said violence. It is only when such a heinous act is committed against a group of people we haven’t sanctioned for suffering and death do we cry foul.