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April 2011
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gwen [userpic]
About mass shootings.

Before I start this, I would like to point out that my heart goes out to all of the victims. This is not about them, though, it is about hoping we can work on not having another one of these. And on with it....

You know, we would all do everyone a favor by not bothering to discuss, report, or otherwise acknowledge the actual shooters in these mass shootings. Why? Because the reason they do these things is so that they can get their ultimate last negative attention before going out. Seriously, it's what they're looking for.

But no, we have to discuss ad nauseum whether video games/violent TV/psychosis/whatever was the reason they did this. We have to explore their background, their name, their family, their thinking, their motives, their inspirations, their everything... and we feed right into the next one of these.

And really the answer is, "yes, that person was psychotic." I mean, that fact was obvious from the moment they shot, so why do we need further motive to discuss? But the further motive we should be discussing, if we are going to be discussing any, is the attention they clearly craved for their final act. But that aspect is almost never brought up in all of the articles upon articles of rumours and sensationalism and bloggings of "WHY?" We already know why.

The problem is, we can't own up to the fact that these things are happening is each and every one of our own faults. Every time we watch the TV news and pore over every detail of who the shooter was -- "WHY?" -- with them, we are contributing to the attention that that person clearly wanted. We are setting ourselves up for the next attention-deprived psychotic case to decide to, well, go out with a bang. Because, obviously, they will also get that attention.

As an example of this, I remember the fuss in the 80's about teenage suicides being much more common. In fact, there appear to be still people discussing this. For quite a while, teen suicides were constantly in the news, and yes, they were more common than usual! And the same things as now were blamed, heavy metal music, TV violence, or whatever else was at hand (Negativland has a particularly funny story about this). But funny enough, once the news decided to stop broadcasting about teens who were committing suicide... the rates went back down to normal levels.

And now, it's less than 20 years later, and they've already forgotten that lesson. So, when a tragedy like this occurs, they don't turn to themselves as the catalyst to the psychotic's snap; rather they turn back to the same old blameables (and the new one: video games). But I am going to say this, it is the attention that the media, and US ALL to blame. Every one of us. Even me right now.

Now, I should clarify here. I don't think the events shouldn't be reported. Of course they should, we all have friends or family that could be in danger in those areas, and we need to know about it. But what we should be doing is concentrating on the victims, on the facts, on the events... not on the shooter. We shouldn't be naming the shooter, devouring every morsel about his or her history, his or her motives, his or her lifestyle. That is not what is important now, the others involved are what are important. So let us concentrate on them.

And it's the responsibility of every one of us to do this... we should note our own conversations, our own blogs, our own patterns of what we are paying attention to and concentrate our own efforts on the victims. If we see the TV broadcasting data about the shooter, or read a headline about the personal information, we should stop watching, stop reading. If we are so motivated, write a letter to the editor imploring them to be responsible and not continue this pattern of feeding the negative attention these people are looking for.

Besides. Mass shootings are so 90's anyway. Let's move onto the next subject that will dominate our news and give attention-starved teens the 15 minutes of fame they're looking for.

Current Mood: quixoticquixotic
Current Music: Rutter - Sanctus - Mass of the Children

No, seriously, please put this crap behind an LJ cut.

You might have stated that nicer. :p

I probably would have been nicer, but I'm annoyed that you didn't put this behind an LJ cut.

It was a bad decision to not do that, and I will rectify that. But you could have said, "the length of that annoyed me, it is far too long for no lj-cut."

I'm willing to go, "oh, that was a bad decision." I don't need to be insulted for it. :p

True, and I don't need to be told "I don't trust you to decide when to read this."

I actually didn't mean to imply that. I am sorry about doing so. As I said, I recognized that it was a bad decision and fixed it.

Psh. This is an attitude I don't understand "OMG I HAVE TO SCROLL FOR # MORE SECONDS!!!!!" You were fine.

Criminy, try friending Ferrett.

I have tried to make a habit of being nice about lj-cuts. My problem in this instance is that I really didn't notice how long it was until I got the first comment back in my mailbox.

I'm also working on a down system atm, so I was a bit latent about getting to rectifying that.

It's her journal. Try asking instead of telling her what to do. Your annoyance does not excuse your rudeness.

Let me draw a parallel between this situation and our society's approach to the healthcare crisis. Most larger corporations (including media corps) and government don't focus on the cure for a condition, they focus on treating the symptoms. Because you can't make money, or control people, once the condition has been cured. And there's a much larger profit from treatment than there is from prevention. Thus, Americans will continue to become increasingly unhealthy and psychotic. This event could have been prevented by the people who knew him, but no one bothered to take it seriously.

Everything I've read says that they did try to get him help. He was referred to counselors & placed in a hospital for psychological reasons. I'm not sure what else people can do in that situation. I've known some really scary people and at one point when I was genuinely afraid that this person would do something, I was told by law enforcement & other assorted authorities that they'd love to help but it's not like you can arrest someone for being really creepy.

If you have documentation, you actually can. Someone I knew in Utah started sending me scarier and scarier emails about how he wanted to rape women, and then how he wanted to kill everyone because killing himself was no longer an option (his uncle had just committed suicide). I asked for help from the sysadmin over there, who I knew from other circles, and he got campus police to detain the guy. Last I heard, he was committed for psychiatric treatment, which was probably a blessing.

You're right. The ability to restrict a citizen's freedom by declaring them a danger is and should be tightly regulated.

What really worries me is that there is so little money available for detection & prevention programs for violent offenders.

What the hell? When did I say that? My ONLY point was that people did try to help and that in some circumstances there is only so much you can do.

Heaven forbid people actually discuss anything without being sarcastic or rude. Forget I said anything.

After seeing/reading Cho's material, this is what I think:

1) The flat affect, disorganized speech, voluminous output (24 filmclips, for instance) and "word salad" style text are strong indicators of schizophrenia.

2) This means that there's a less than satisfying reason why he did it: He had a chemical imbalance, compounded by prolonged stress. We really can't predict when this combination of events will happen and can't do much about it in an open society. It also means that it probably can't be stopped by just not talking about the shooter, who was probably too delusional to be clearly parsing his own motives.

3) On the other hand, the template exists; the media has procedures for this and Cho followed them. He followed the path of least resistance. But that path is not just the result of media attention-seeking. It's also the result of attitudes toward mental illness, the low quality of schizophrenia diagnosis and therapy and the availability of firearms, as well as numerous other cultural intangibles. You can't let *any* of them of the hook -- but if you put them all *on* the hook, you will not be left with an open society.

4) On principle, I oppose suggestions to ignore people or denigrate them in any calculated fashion, even when they've done horrible things. It just makes communities fester by being denied catharsis, it creates increases the attraction of taboo that already exists, and it interferes with far more sober, less glamorous attempts to understand what happened.

The problem is that you just can't trust mass media to take this considered approach. It's not politically attractive to say that somebody acted out because of a perfect storm of cultural factors, armament and mental illness. People want to be assured by someone that they (and the victims) have been done a moral offense: a soberly evil act that the public can exercise some defining power over. But there's no assurance, no key cause and no solution that people are willing to realistically commit to.

Well said.