I wanted to write about metal today, as always, but I failed. My mind was still trying to wrap itself around something else, namely, 20 innocent children and six innocent adults gunned down at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, USA, on December 15, 2012.
I don’t know about you, but I’m old enough that I feel pretty hardened against the horrors of the world. Tragedies, big and small, are part of daily life. The world is more interconnected than ever before, and we can read about and watch bloodbaths like this one every day if we want to — because somewhere in the world, each day brings a fresh horror of some kind.
There’s only so much individual human tolerance for bad news. If you don’t armor yourself to some degree against the pain of other people, it’s damned hard to put one foot in front of another and keep going.
But the death of children . . . the unnecessary, unpredictable death of 20 children . . . is especially hard to take. You have to have really thick armor to deflect something like this.
I know that, somewhere, children die in droves every day, usually in places where disease or starvation or grotesque neglect claim them. But like all horrors, the closer to home they are, the more you feel them. It’s just easier to imagine that they could happen to you, or your children, or your friends, or their children. Evolution is probably to blame for both our increased sensitivity to tragedies that we can more easily imagine as happening to ourselves or those we love, and our comparative indifference to more remote instances of catastrophic loss.
When I was driving home last night I listened to a psychologist being interviewed on the radio. He was giving advice to parents about how to talk to their children in the wake of the slaughter in Newtown. He recommended shielding children from the details of what happened, to help prevent the anxiety and emotional trauma that could come from the feelings of danger, risk, and helplessness that this event could produce.
He also insisted that adults should realize that school-place tragedies of the kind that happened in Newtown are extremely rare. He quoted statistics from the Center for Disease Control that in the last decade there have been a total of 117 violent deaths in U.S. schools — not counting yesterday’s deaths — and that the odds of something like this happening are on the order of 1 in 10,000,000.
Everything he said made sense to me, but I still instinctively rebelled against some of his advice. Not the part where he said that children should be shielded from the details of this horror, but the part where he said that adults should chill out and view this event as something akin to lightening striking.
My reaction is very different. I think adults should open themselves fully to the brutal agony of this senseless devastation. I hope Americans will feel this intensely and not sweep it under the rug. I hope they will be afraid that, however remote, the odds of this kind of calamity happening in their own backyard are real and should not to be ignored. To my way of thinking, becoming desensitized to the horror will increase the odds of it happening again.
If my wish came true, I’m not sure where it would lead, or if it would lead to any change that would actually reduce the risk of this tragedy being repeated; we live in an inexplicably violent and gun-crazy culture. But no good of any kind will come from the Newtown catastrophe if we’re all back to “business as usual” by January, or worse yet, by Monday.
This hurts, and it ought to hurt. Those of us with children can do our best to reassure them and to preserve a happy childhood for them to the greatest extent possible. But if we don’t feel this loss to our core, if we avoid thinking about it and talking about it, if we just accept this kind of random violence as part of the fabric of American life, as the price we pay for “freedom”, then shame on all of us.
And people who try to excuse what happened in Newtown or spout ideologies that simply reinforce the status quo in this country in the face of this butchery, those people aren’t feeling this nearly hard enough.
I know you don’t come here to read stuff like this, and rest assured, we’ll get back to metal tomorrow, or maybe even later today. Just had to get this shit off my chest. Feel free to tell me I’m a dick.
You’re not a dick. A post like this only elevates NCS in my opinion. My wife cried on and off all day yesterday, we were at at Zaxby’s last night and a couple came in with two kids around kindergarten age and she started crying. My armor is pretty damn thick but this makes me sick. My children are 15 and 19 and I can’t imagine how devastating loosing one of them would be and yet I think it would be even worse if they were the age of these children. I think the shooter in this case was a unique kind of sick, probably some brat who felt his mother had slighted him and saw her young students as rivals for her affection. I don’t know. I don’t think shooters like this one are very likely to happen again, unfortunately I do believe older children will continue to shoot up their own schools and adults will continue to shoot up their workplaces and malls as long as parents continue not to listen to and be involved with their children and friends of these adults don’t heed warning signs. I’d hate to see firearms take all the blame for this, I believe in firearms for the protection of our children at home, but they should be properly secured so the children can’t use them. It’s cliche but if guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns and then we’re all fucked. Be attentive parents, friends and coworkers. If someone in your life’s behavior changes become involved, it is potentially your problem too.
I appreciate your comment byrd. You and I probably have different views about gun control, but I’m not naive enough to think that even this disaster will lead to more sensible and more widespread regulations on gun licensing and ownership or restrictions on the kind of weapons that can be purchased. And obviously, the root cause of this carnage was in the mind of the shooter. Especially because we live in a country where access to guns is so easy, I agree 100% with you that this incident should at least reinforce in everyone’s mind the importance of all parents becoming involved in their children’s lives, and staying involved, and the importance of parents, friends, classmates, and co-workers paying attention to the warning signs of mental and emotional imbalance in people they know.
I agree that licensing and ownership regulations need some serious improvements and as much as I believe firearms should be legal I don’t think any of us need assault rifles, with the exception of certified police and military personnel.
I was also just thinking about these victims during this season. I’m not a Christian or religious by any means, but I’ve come to accept xmas as a family oriented time. I lost a friend who was like a brother to me on 12/12/96 and that has never stopped hurting at this time of year. My Grandmother passed on 12/09 last year and I’m expecting a tearful family xmas experience this year for sure. My point, i guess, is that this asshole has destroyed xmas for these families and their entire community forever.
No question about that. Though I like to think I’m not a vindictive person, I’m glad this fucker took his own life so we don’t have to suffer the added misery of the media circus that would have surrounded him and his lawyers in a criminal prosecution.
Not to mention how we as taxpayers would have had to pay to feed, house and legally defend this piece of shit who you’d be pretty hard pressed to find anyone who doesn’t think he should be dead.
True dat. It would have been hard as hell to live with him surviving after all the lives he ended.
You are not being a dick. I can’t handle this shit anymore. I think I have pretty thick skin. I have seen a lot of bad things, but I want to just break down and cry. I am just absolutely disgusted by people that think the answer to this problem is more guns.
I have a small child, just starting school. I am also a paramedic, and have had to deal with the death of children. I live and work in a small town. I could not imagine being one of those parents, or one of the emergency service providers. Their station was right next to the school. I think that would be my last day on the job. Like I said, I’ve seen a child killed before, and I had to pronounce them dead, and inform the parents, but nothing to this scale. I think of those kids every single day, and I don’t know how I could have handled something like that.
We have had two mass shootings in a week in the US. We have 20 dead children. An entire community destroyed. We have to do something, and what we have been doing is not working. If we just let this go, and we pretend we can’t do anything (which just means we won’t), then we are dead as a nation. We have nothing left to show we are what the world should aspire to be. If we just let the murder of children not bother us, we have nothing left to offer as a society.
Powerful stuff. I can’t imagine doing what you’ve had to do, even once, much less what the law enforcement people, medical personnel, and counselors have been doing in Newtown.
The idea that there are people trying to politicize this event one way or another is absolutely disgusting.
I can’t relate to this event as much as the other people who’ve commented here I’m sure. I’m only 23, don’t have children and at this point in my life don’t even want them. However, an event like this displays everything wrong with this society and this world as a whole. All I can say I feel is a repressed futile anger at the thing that does no good in the end and the thing is no matter how much you try to analyze this situation, none of the answers are good. As someone who is typically a “pro gun” guy, it is obvious something has to be done as far as controls go. But I don’t know anymore, the world is a disgusting place, and it indeed seems to be worsening daily.
I share to a certain extent your feeling about some of the people who have immediately jumped on this carnage to press ideological points. On the other hand, I also share the point of view expressed by Ezra Klein in a piece I’ll link after the quote:
“If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.
“Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. ‘Too soon,’ howl supporters of loose gun laws. But as others have observed, talking about how to stop mass shootings in the aftermath of a string of mass shootings isn’t ‘too soon.’ It’s much too late.”
I´m not american, never had the experience of living there, so bare with me as I expose my opinion as an outside looker…and as a social anthropologist, if I must.
First: it is impossible not to politize events like this, everything that takes place on modern society is cause and effect of political practices. I know it feels “tainted” when a certain party or political group starts trying to push their agendas through the pain of a tragedy, but the mere fact that people is talking about what the cause is and what can be done about it is a political action per se. Being political doesn´t necessarily means being part of a “formal” political initiative, it just means taking action to modify the way of life inside a community (real or imaginary).
Second: I´m an all around left-wing dude and I seriously have a hard time understanding why are guns so massively revered in the US. My country has had a history of violence, civil war and decades of military dictatorships in which people was killed, tortured and vanished from existence. Now adays there is a major ammount of right-wing, neo-darwinists here who still believe in the traits of free market , but still, these people for the most part hate the idea of being around guns, just like most of the population.
I guess it has something to do with the fact that modern civil america never had to go through the experience of a war or armed conflict within their borders, hence making guns look more like an instrument of self-defense, recreation and even “liberation” (if you are the kind of people who support US foreign militery interventionism) rather than what they really are: instruments of death. People who´ve been close to the sustained horror of death, who´ve seen their families broken by war or conflict wouldn´t even think of making guns a common necessity.
I don´t want to digress, people there need to take into account the fact that school/public places shootings within areas thata are not officially “at war” are pretty much a purely american phenomenon. I am completely aware that access to guns is not the only factor in this, there´s a miriad of other things involved (parental neglect, social stigmas that brew spite and hatred towards others, even maybe formal stuff like poblational distribution) but it is withouth a doubt the most easily factor to neutralize: if there´s no guns available, people won´t be dying in school shootouts, no matter how fucked up american parenting is, simple as that.
How do you propose getting guns out of circulation. As several posters have pointed out, the only people likely to
give up their guns/rights to own guns are law abiding citizens who legally own their weapons to begin with. If guns were illegal tomorrow criminals would still have access to them, and they would continue to have access to them
I’m guessing you’re in Latin America somewhere?
I saw this story late on BBC last night, and just thought fuck not again. And yes, obviously six and seven year olds as victims makes this one much more brutal. Amongst remembering the obvious similar events like Columbine, Virginia Tech, etc. I also recalled similar incidents in China within the last few years (and see there’s even a Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_attacks_in_China_(2010%E2%80%932011)). Those were mostly knife crimes.
So on the one hand, banning guns isn’t necessarily going to stop similar things happening, but like you Omens I’m a foreigner looking in on the US situtation and I can wholeheartedly say that everyone I talk to about incidents like this can’t believe the availability of heavy weaponry in the US. Sure, incidents like this may be ‘rare’ relatively speaking, but if there’s any take home message from the US and China school/education institute murders it’s that someone, somewhere, will go crazy or have severe mental health problems, and the last thing you want is for them to have easy access to an easy way to kill people. Could the same thing happen with knifes? The incidents in China would say yes, but I find it hard to believe the fatality rates would be so high without assault weapons.
And obviously no, you’re not a dick at all Islander! In fact let’s face it, of all genres of music out there metal is probably the most upfront about the problems of people and society, so the way I see it a metal site being honest about something like this is just par for the course.
As I said above, I feel better regulation for those purchasing guns and limitations on the types of guns available is necessary. Responsible ownership for those with guns is also necessary. There are too many guns already out there illegally to stop all gun violence and those illegal guns are already in the hands of criminals. There have been gun toting thugs kicking in doors and robbing families around here for years and I feel great comfort in knowing that if my door comes in I have ready and substantial firepower. When I’m not home my weapons are equipped with locks that would effectively render them useless if forcibly removed, I would support measures to make these types of locks a mandatory requirement for gun owners. This would surely cut down the number of stolen weapons used in violent crime. As for these mass murderers, I think if they weren’t using guns they would build bombs, use chemicals, motor vehicles or any number of things. Guns certainly make it easier for them but the removal of guns doesn’t equal the removal of mass killing. With all these crazy militia fuckers and the average NRA member, what do people think would happen when “they” come to take the guns?
…all of this…The answer isnt to try and completely remove guns, it just wouldnt work at this point. Tighter regulation as well as actually enforcing the laws that we do have is going to have far more impact
I may eventually share my thoughts on this catastrophe, and the context it takes place in. They’re informed by a lot of dimensions of my being, including the facts that I’m a psychologist; have spent years working with young people of color in urban US contexts and with men around domestic violence; male lefty feminist; son of a nonviolent socialist militant in an Arab North African context; living in the US South for over 10 years now; agnostic; and more.
But above and beyond all that, I react to this shooting as a human being, and as the single father of a 3.5 year-old toddler. I think this country is now officially populated by zombies for the rest of the week-end, as so many adults are walking around feeling sucker punched, breathless, and at a loss for words/direction/faith/etc.
Disbelief, numbness, disgust, sorrow, and fear. I picked my son up from daycare, having not seen him all week (weekdays with mom). I wasn’t able to put this all out of my mind, until he started to dance to a blaring song of his, from the warm comfort of the car backseat, while clutching onto a little pumpkin bag filled with trashies (some small rubber garbage creatures that we collect) in one hand, and feasting on a creamy, sticky, shamefully yummy donut in the other hand. I could only feel thankful for being able to witness and experience such a simple, yet oh-so precious moment at this time… And hope with every fiber in my body that no one ever strips that away from me, for I don’t think I could ever “come back” from such a loss…
This morning, moving from one world (the “hood” where I live, McDonald’s while getting an oil change) to another (hipster/trendy Trader Joe’s grocery store), I saw adults from all ends of the spectrum breathe a sigh of relief at the sight of a happy, alive child–especially one as insanely cute and charming as mine, but that’s besides the point! But there’s definitely an aching out there for relief, that childhood as many of us know it (or imagine it) is not over.
Unfortunately, childhoods are also shattered on a daily basis in the shadows of this country and others, among those who don’t get the same visibility or voice. It doesn’t take away from the vileness of what we saw yesterday, suburban white America or not. And the grief should be allowed to take place. But the genuinely critical and uncomfortable social analysis, of this context and the larger ones, must take place.
Islander, I’ll admit that I stopped by NCS early this morning in hopes of finding some acknowledgement of what happened. I needed to know that the place I respect the most for my personal passion is able to face reality from time to time, and in a thoughtful manner no less. You did that, and more–thank you.
Now, off to cuddle up with my little one, the dog, and a couple stuffed animals as we watch some silly cartoon…
I’m really glad you chose to leave this eloquent note. Just reading it made me feel somewhat less like a zombie, which is pretty much how I’ve felt all day.
Thank you. My writing is more for personal cathartic purposes than it is for an audience, as I’m sure was the case for you as well.
I am truly shocked at what happened in Connecticut, and can’t come to terms with how a human being can get so low in life that they feel the only way out is to murder children then take their own life. The loss of innocent children is abhorrent. It is a very, very sad day for our country.
And I really hate to politicize this, but the entire internet is exploding right now over this situation, and how we need to enact stricter gun regulation, limit sales of guns and ammunition in general, and even outright ban guns altogether.
What I am trying to wrap my head around is how stricter regulations would deter a determined criminal (and the guy that committed this atrocity was obviously quite determined) from using a gun anyway. They will always be able to get their hands on a gun via the black market or even stealing it from a registered gun owner.
Case in point is what happened yesterday: the dude didn’t own or buy the guns he used, he stole them from his mother, who he then killed with them. How would stricter gun control have prevented this guy from getting his hands on these guns?
If you make it harder (or outright illegal) for the responsible people of this country to own guns, all you will do is disarm the general population while the criminals will still be armed. Criminals don’t care about laws, that’s what makes them criminals. A criminal won’t walk up to a mall or a school or a theater, see a “no firearms allowed” sign and just give up and walk away. All those laws do is keep the responsible, law-abiding citizens from carrying in these locations while giving the criminal free reign to do what they want.
Another case in point is the mall shooting in Oregon. I’m sure that mall was a “gun free” zone, as most malls are. Didn’t stop the dude from walking in there and blowing away a bunch of people. If that law wasn’t in place there could have been several (again, law-abiding, responsible) citizens in that mall carrying a firearm who could have stopped the bad guy shooting people. Probably would not have completely negated all the innocent deaths, but it would he significantly reduced the number.
Same goes for nearly all the shooting recently. Had the responsible people been allowed to carry firearms in these locations, the outcomes could have been very different. Most likely for the better.
Again, sorry for politicizing this terrible tragedy, but I feel it is my duty to protect my (and our) freedoms and right to protect ourselves. We don’t all carry policemen on our backs to protect us; it’s up to us to protect ourselves. We can’t (and shouldn’t) rely on our government for protection.
We live in the vortex of a vicious circle: There are already 300 million guns in the country; it would be extraordinarily difficult (OK, impossible) to shut down a black market in guns even if selling guns were made illegal (something that will never happen); criminals will therefore always find a way to get them; and therefore law-abiding people like you will feel the need to have guns for self-protection; and so on. Very discouraging.
It also seems very clear that stricter regulation of gun sales and gun ownership would not have prevented what happened in Newtown, for the reasons you say. It’s probably also true that premeditated mass murderers like Adam Lanza would find a way to commit their crimes even if they couldn’t get their hands on semi-automatic weapons. So maybe the Newtown disaster was unavoidable.
Still, I think a lot of gun violence is preventable, and that just throwing up our hands and saying nothing more can or should be done because maybe this particular carnage couldn’t be prevented would be a horrible outcome.
I completely agree that it’s a vicious circle, and I really don’t see a way out of it without making one side or the other mad and upset. It really sucks.
But my mindset is that I don’t want my freedoms and choices taken away. I don’t want my choice to protect myself taken away. I don’t want to rely on law enforcement to protect me because they usually aren’t right there when the shit hits the fan. By the time they arrive it’s too late.
I own quite a few guns, and go out with friends to shoot for fun. It’s relaxing and fun, but also excellent training. I also carry a concealed handgun occasionally when I go to a crowded area, because I want to be prepared if something like the mall in Oregon goes down. My state is one of the few that doesn’t require a permit to carry concealed. You look at the violent crime rates for these states that decided to not require permits, and you will see that shootings did not go up. It sort of proves that permit requirements really don’t do much at all. I’m the type of person that takes action. If I can prevent innocent lives from being taken, I would much rather draw down on the person taking those lives than run away.
I agree that gun violence could be preventable, but it’s how to prevent it that’s the problem. I mean no disrespect, but treating us normal, law abiding, non-sociopathic citizens like criminals by forcing us to pay heavy taxes, register our firearms, get permits, take firearm education classes, et cetera is just not the answer because it really doesn’t stop the criminals at all. If they want a gun to do a bad deed they probably won’t go through all those steps to get one. They’ll either just steal it, buy one from the black market, or use some other instrument of death. Knives, bombs, or, like the guy used in my city a few weeks back, a bow and arrow.
It’s a really sticky situation, and it’s hard to find a happy medium.
‘t Is again a sad day for humanity. I will not tire or offend you with any dissertation from my paradigms (being Dutch, I find it hard to relate to some of the reasoning above, so I’ll simply refrain from commenting on it). Let me suffice to say that reading this post and comments prevents me from drowning in pessimism and resentment about US culture and people. Words are insufficient to convey how I feel about the events and for the people involved in them…
Instead, let me just put in a simple comment on the psychologist practicing the “comfort in numbers” trick. I find it most disturbing that people are allowed to spill blatant lies and crap about events like this, which clearly defy any statistical analysis (e.g. disasters with nuclear facilities also fall in this category). It is nonsensical to say “the odds of this happening are on the order of 1 in 10,000,000” and an utterly unnecessary rape of statistical and mathematical principles. Besides that detached viewpoint, no sensible person would consider mentioning such a statistic to the respective parents; such underlines how meaningless and empty the words are.
Events like this shooting surpass any scientific analysis. They’re a raw confrontation with reality and should instigate discussion and reflection to progress towards the prevention of other shootings. Ultimately that comes down to people taking their responsibility as a citizen, as a *human*. Discussing things on a metal blog isn’t the way to change things. One needs to *live* the change, put up an example for others to follow. To think and contemplate, reach conclusions, and *act* accordingly.
Or we will be reduced to slaves of our supposedly advanced culture and lifestyle, until another tragedy tears right through our carefully built facades, sparking the potential for change again. Please, friends, do not yield to such tempting and comforting delusions. Lives, especially children’s lives, are too valuable to be sacrificed on their altars.
I’ll say that one reason I’ve been depressed all day, besides the obvious reasons, is that the country went through the throes of this back-and-forth discussion after Columbine . . . and after Aurora . . . and after the Sikh temple killings in Wisconsin . . . and after the Portland mall killings . . . and absolutely nothing changed then, and I fear nothing will change now either. The only reason I’m not certain that nothing will change this time is because 20 children died this time.
I dont understand why people think they nedd to talk to their young children at all about this? Why open that can of worms and freak them iut over nothing? Keep the tv off for a few daysbajd let them live in their ignorant bliss. Kids, particularly young kids, are ego-centric beings, completely unaware of things tuat dont directly affect them. God damn, let it stay that way. Not everything has to be talked about.
I agree with you, and I haven’t seen anyone advocating that parents ought to open this subject up with their kids, though maybe that’s happening. What I’ve heard are people who assume that kids are going to find out, and then give advice about how parents should deal with it when the questions come.
When it happened, I saw a lot of people talking about taking time to mourn, then taking the time to try to do something to prevent something like this again. Just like last time. And the time before that. And before that. And so on. People have been killed, and though the death of 20 young children makes this one sting a bit more, it doesn’t make this one any “worse” than any of the previous shootings, or any that may come after this because people are afriad to talk about it and politicians are afraid to lose the backing of their lobbyists.
This is a time to sweep politics aside and do something, anything towards keeping something like this from happening again, whether it’s a few people, ten or twenty or dozens like in Norway last year thanks to Anders Breivik (and yes, I think looking to something that happened outside of the US is not off limits here). Left or right, conservative or liberal, moderate, progressive, whatever…. it shouldn’t be hard to figure out that stuff like this should not happen and that it’s in our best interests to do what we can, else it gets worse. Yes, the constitution does provide for the right to bear arms, but this goes well beyond the ability to have a gun when you need it. I’m sure the NRA and other lobbyists are going to come up with some bullshit to spin around this. Thing is, a lot of innocent people have died because. Fuck off with the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people”. The gun helps. A lot.
Also, this is not the time to thump the Bible and claim that the victims could’ve been saved had they done this or not done that. Sad to say, some holier-than-thou types came out of the woodwork as deatils were still coming about about what happened and who was involved. It’s these kinds of people that give religion in general a bad name, not just Christianity. As a pastor I know said in a sermon, “religion has hurt the world”. It has, and continues to do so, especially during dark times.
Leave God out of this. He didn’t tell the Lanzas to shoot their mother, children and others at school. God didn’t tell Anders Breivik to open fire on 77 people in Norway during a Workers’ youth League function. God didn’t tell James Holmes to open fire at a movie theater. These shootings are not to punish people for living a certain way. The God of the Bible may be seem bipolar in how he’s presented in print, but if He is anything like he God Christians talk about, this is not the way he does things, nor does He throw tantrums in the form of hurricanes and earthquakes.
Just as it’s okay to take pause and offer thoughts for the victims and their families, thoughts need to also go towards keeping something like this from happening again. While I distrust figures and statistics, I will say that these things aren’t happening all the time. But the fact that they happen at all is bad enough.
Now as for how to approach the topic with one’s kids, there’s no easy way. I would say that you can (and probably should) spare them the details, but I think it’s important to at least display some honesty with children at a time like this; they can pick up when something’s wrong far easier than you might think. With all that goes on, children do need to know that bad things happen, else they may not be able to handle a situation if they are exposed to it. We see violence in movies and on TV and don’t give it a lot of thought (generally speaking, some people think entertainment goes too far – and in some cases, I may agree). But when it happens nearby, it takes on a different feel, because it’s real and it lasts. Kids need to know this. Not everything detail, but they still need to know what goes on, because it’s part of a parent’s job to take care of their children, through the good and bad, even when it’s someone else.
I listened to some other counseling professionals on TV today, and they were recommending what you are saying — to be honest in answering children’s questions about this, if they ask. Don’t hide the fact that children died, but reassure them that they are safe and that something like this will not happen to them (even though, sad to say, it could).
I haven’t said anything about a few people in the fundamentalist lunatic fringe who’ve proclaimed some divine intent behind this because I’m too fucking disgusted.
The more shit they say, the worse they look to the rest of us with common sense. Thankfully, not every religious person is a dickwad, nor is every church filled with assholes. It’s just the ones that are get the attention. Gotta love the media who does all the dirty work for them without being asked. I wonder what the pastor for this church I help out with (they have service here where I work, I don’t attend but I help set up and run lighting for them, with sound duties to come later) is going to have to say about what happened.
I’m loving the beautiful irony that lies in the fact that this level of dialogue and discourse, with some polemic positions and across some contentious aisles, is taking place on an Extreme Metal site. A site devoted to the kind of music that is so often misunderstood and villified–though granted a scene that can also be so “meatheady” and unaware.
The only point that I’ll bring into the conversation, one that I always do when discussions of mass violence erupt, is the transparent elephant in the room that we often so fail to see and acknowledge. It’s no coincidence that shooters are 99.9% of the time male–and straight as well. Not to get all academic (which I’m not), but it has a lot to do with how masculinity is constructed and reinforced. Sure, there are many variations of what’s considered manly or acceptable for a man (cultural variations, regional, etc.). But they all tend to have a few elements in common–violence, not being gay or seen as gay, strict rules on what.when emotions can be displayed, etc.
These masculinities constantly have to be performed/reinforced, to make sure others know we’re not deviating. And of course, they tend to be rigid–such that it becomes easy to tell when someone “deviates”–and then comes the beating. Surely, all these issues related to how boys/men are taught to behave, must have something to do with these outbursts of violence (on many scales). After all, they’re the one common thread across practically all such episodes–across cultures no less. And don’t get me started on political violence. And no, of course they don’t tell the whole story. But we’d sure be blind and stupid to ignore the obvious.
And then comes the obvious link to this website (NCS)… how are these masculinities created/sustained, and what role does media play… Though my personal position is that ironically, it’s the mainstream media influences that are most problematic (wrestling, football, rap of today, etc,), not the ones that lie on the fringes and spook people out (metal, etc.)
To add further to the irony, look at all the grown men here talking about crying, feeling vulnerable/scared, etc. Folks who listen to stuff like Black and Death Metal no less! Not to get so touchy feely as to inadvertently shut it all down now, but this is some good shit…
It seems to me this is more correlation than causation…Im curious how your theory explains the millions of straight males who go about their daily live without acting like overly aggressive assholes
Or, to flip it around, how does one explain the huge discrepancy in violence between men and women? Surely that’s not coincidence, and surely that’s not only biology at play.
As for the millions… well, it’s largely a matter of degree of violence. A huge proportion of boys/men (and I won’t even venture a % here), have committed some form of violence/aggression (not necessarily physical). It’s, in most place, part of what it means to grow up as a boy, be-it fighting, hunting, bullying, etc. It’s literally a rite of passage in many male communities (fraternities, gangs, etc.)…
If we’re using your definition of violence/aggression (i.e…not necessarily physical) than Id argue the discrepancy between males and females isnt nearly as high as youre making it out to be. While girls dont generally go in for physical violence (though Id argue that number is on the rise) the verbal sparing/bullying that goes on between young women is just as common and every bit as vicious.
…which goes to my answer to your second point…while people (of either sex) can be violent or aggressive, the vast majority don’t live their lives like that…Saying some asshole went on a shooting rampage because of the gender roles society places on boys dosnt explain why the vast majority of men dont become killers
..that last sentence I wrote was horrible…let me try again “If the gender roles society places on men was a reason this asshole went on a shooting spree, then why dont the vast majority of men become killers”
..actually..you know what..Reply if you want, but honestly, out of respect for this thread, I dont want to continue this conversation. Its not the time or place
…my apologies to Islander and the rest for side-tracking this post
Apologies as well…
You guys have nothing to apologize for. The best comment threads around here are often the ones that veer off in some completely unpredictable directions.
“then why dont the vast majority of men become killers”
Ah, well I think that’s always the million dollar question. Whether it’s trying to explain why some people get lung cancer from smoking while others don’t, why 100 NCS readers listening to the same album will come away with different impressions, or why 4 kids raised by the same parents will turn out so differently. There’s always so much at play, that no one explanation will ever give the whole picture. Like I said initially, I realize that what I’m bringing up “doesn’t tell the whole story.” Nothing irks me more, and make dialogue more impossible, than folks believing that there’s only one explanation to complex human problems. Of course it’s not just gun laws, or mental illness, or culture.
However, it doesn’t mean–in this case–that sex and society’s norms/expectations/values/etc. around it don’t play a big role. Let’s just take school shootings alone, in isolation. They all have one thing in common, and only one thing: they were all done by boys/men. Different communities, weapons, “types” of guys, family experiences, etc. But they were all boys. Again, I just find it impossible to rule this one constant fact as a coincidence, or mere correlate. The It is not a random fact, and I’m comfortable making that statement as a fact. As a society we deem female physical violence unusual and odd. That essentially “proves” (as much as one can prove anything) that there is a gender gap that we’ve unconsciously come to accept and expect.
Oh, and of course girls/women have their own ways of being aggressive and violent. Personal experience alone attests to that 😉 But my point is it’s a different violence, driven by different values/norms/etc.
But in the end, I’m not sure we’ll ever fully grasp why it is that people who appear similar on all levels can turn out so differently. I think we have to accept that we can’t surgically or brutally come to that level of precision (sorry I couldn’t resist :). So we have to deal with patterns and generalizations, and expect exceptions.
Anyway, no need for me to beat a dead horse, though I sure appreciate the back’n forth…
I’ll only add that although I’m not exactly an objective observer when it comes to this site, I don’t think NCS is representative of most metal sites, and I don’t think most of the readers are typical of what you’d find elsewhere either. The comment sections are definitely not typical.
Well said, I’m still trying to rationalize what happened. It just doesn’t seem like it should be able to happen.
I’ve written and deleted at least six comments in the last day.
Basically, it seem like everyone’s just talking in circles and it’s annoying, because I don’t have any real suggestions or solutions either. And the more statistics I look at, the less clear anything becomes.
I want to say something meaningful, but I have nothing. So, instead I’ll give you a video of a cow. Hopefully it’ll make you smile.
That was a really good cow. I LOLed, which I needed. I also found a metal video on the right side of that YouTube page that I really liked. Why that metal video was on that page is as much of a mystery as these killings, but a whole lot more fun to think about.
Oh, the anti tank nun? Yeah, they were pretty good!
I was reading an article early last night, on Fox or CNN I can’t remember, and it struck me how exploitative the media is being when covering this tragedy.
I was sitting on my couch reading the article and suddenly I felt nauseous and dizzy and I couldn’t breathe. It was the most overpowering sensation I have ever felt, probably in my life. They were interviewing a six or seven year old girl, asking her what she heard and saw. I thought it was completely inappropriate. I mean, these kids are most likely scarred for life now. And the news media is treating them like adults, rubbing it in. Then they were showing (candid or yearbook) pictures of the slain adults and even of a few of the children. When I saw the photos of the children, happy and carefree, I lost it and had to put my laptop away and do something else. I felt physically sick and just had to do something else.
Anyone else think the media is glorifying this situation and going completely overboard?
I saw one of those on-camera interviews of a child and heard a couple more on the radio in my car. Fucking disgusting. I’m also amazed that their parents allowed it. It’s a full-on media circus, replete with rabid competition to be the first to break some new tidbit — which has resulted in a ridiculous number of “factual” reports that later turn out to be false. We’ll be gorged with non-stop sensationalist coverage of this for days and weeks. I got my fill yesterday. I’m now limiting myself to on-line news reporting about it from AP and the NY Times.
Makes me glad I don’t have cable or satellite TV. I couldn’t stand watching the news channels going round and round with their over-analyzing and scrabble to outdo the other networks. It’s just sickening. Unfortunately it’s the new norm. The internet, however, isn’t much better.
In 2007, Jokela, Tuusula, Finland, the school shootings of Jokela took place, where 9 people, including the shooter, died. In the aftermath it was discovered how ruthlessly the media hunted stories to print from the friends & families of the victims. This was revealed through a summary brought to public that was put together by the students of the very same school. Their stories depict how reporters chased, harassed via phone and even tried to force their way into the families homes on whatever excuse. Things escalated to the point, where reportes introduced themselves as priests or employees of the crisis-center to get a story. I even remember this one story, and I dug it up to see I got it right, where a reporter called an underaged kid on the next morning from the shootings, trying to ask questions about the kid’s mother. The same kid had only hours before found out that her mother had died in the shootings. The mother was a public health nurse in that school.
So, to answer your question. Yes, the media can go utter monkey balls on events as tragic as this.
I think America is going to see more of this as the years wear on as more and more people end up in isolated prisons in their minds and driven to violence. I know I’ve felt that sort of rage before and need to direct brutal aimless violence at the mass of society. I have more self control and can direct my mind elsewhere, mainly because I do not want to be shot to death or spend the rest of my life in a cell strapped to a bed. I have no solution, the modern world out there is fucked up and it’s a bit of a miracle if you can make it through without ending up slobbering mad in an alley playing with your feces, fucked over by assholes or shot by some random piece of shit. The kids that were witnesses may grow up harder, more readily prepared for the hard world than others. I don’t know, I’ll just piss you off if I keep typing, as I’m sure some will say “what if your family etc” well I’ve known a lot of people that have died, one in my arms of multiple stab wounds. People just die, the end. This is the first and last bit I’ll ever type on this shooting, there will be another one soon enough.