Those old reliable scapegoats

There’s been another school shooting — heck, we get them about every other day now, so there may be another one tomorrow — and once again, the rationalizations begin to flow, but nothing is done. The Republican governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevins, trots out the usual litany of excuses. He says it is a “cultural problem”, and that’s the end of where I agree with him.

“We have become desensitized to death, we have become desensitized to killing, we have become desensitized to empathy for our fellow man and it’s coming at an extraordinary price and we have got to look at the root causes of this,” Bevin told The Associated Press.

“We can’t celebrate death in video games, celebrate death in TV shows, celebrate death in movies, celebrate death in musical lyrics and remove any sense of morality and sense of higher authority and then expect that things like this are not going to happen,” he added.

Uh, you know — American video games, TV, movies, and music are international now. We sell that stuff everywhere. American entertainment is popular world-wide, and other countries are also producing similar cultural phenomena, yet they are not experiencing these spasms of internal violence. Other countries in Europe and Asia have lower belief in a “higher authority” — America is weirdly religious — and their kids aren’t murdering each other to the same extent. Have you ever considered looking at the empirical evidence rather than worshiping your own freaky biases?

What is unusual in America is the Cult of the Gun, as promoted by the NRA. We also have these strange far right super-“patriots” — in quotes because their patriotism seems to consist of regarding their personal, selfish greed as their highest authority, and believe their duty is to arm themselves to the gills in order to destroy the American government. We’ve militarized our police to the point that “peacekeeping” is an exercise in firepower. I’d also point out that we’re told it is our moral duty to use armed force to murder citizens of other nations to force them to comply, which creates a disturbing conflict in our citizenry about the value of human life.

Of course, Matt Bevins knows that if he criticized the NRA or right-wing militias, he’d probably get shot.


  1. jrkrideau says

    I was walking down the street the other day and thinking about this strange US idea, that one must be armed. The idea of needing a gun to protect myself was weird. My major danger was slipping on ice.

    I proceeded down the street, bought my groceries, checked out the new books in the local library, and had a beer at my local pub, without even one gunfire indecent.

    Clearly you Americans live a more interesting life.

  2. robro says

    We can’t celebrate death in…

    …religion? I can’t think of a more death cult oriented fetish than religion. The Jesus cult is the poster child of religious death fetishes, but really all of them are exploiting fear of death to get the suckers to foot the bills.

  3. rietpluim says

    In a country with such a cultural problem, one wouldn’t allow anybody with a gun. All the more reason for a total ban.

  4. JoeBuddha says

    Amusing how so many super patriots despise the vast majority of their fellow patriotic citizens.

  5. lotharloo says

    Okay, but that was not as bad as I thought. I was thinking he’s going to blame gays, lesbians, and the feminists. Blaming video games is old school.

  6. raven says

    old school.

    compared to what?

    Demons and satan.
    Those are the all purpose explanations of the xians.
    They open their coffins and bring them out often.

  7. says

    PZ wrote: What is unusual in America is the Cult of the Gun … We’ve militarized our police to the point that “peacekeeping” is an exercise in firepower.

    That reminded me of a video from a few years ago, with a comparison of how often American and German (as just one example for Europe) police use their guns:

  8. says

    Something Marilyn Manson wrote after Columbine is still relevant today. TBH, I think the whole thing is worth a re-read, because nothing has changed since then. It’s always going to be television, movies, music, games, getting blamed, while society refuses to look in the mirror.

    They want to blame entertainment? Isn’t religion the first real entertainment? People dress up in costumes, sing songs and dedicate themselves in eternal fandom. Everyone will agree that nothing was more entertaining than Clinton shooting off his prick and then his bombs in true political form. And the news – that’s obvious. So is entertainment to blame? I’d like media commentators to ask themselves, because their coverage of the event was some of the most gruesome entertainment any of us have seen. I think that the National Rifle Association is far too powerful to take on, so most people choose Doom, The Basketball Diaries or yours truly.

    — Marilyn Manson, “Columbine: Whose Fault Is It?”

  9. Mak, acolyte to Farore says

    People in the US literally brag about how fast and how readily they can shoot a man dead on their property.

    The house we sheltered at during Hurricane Irma had this sign in their front window. During our stay, someone broke into their house and stole a handgun, loaned to my brother by his boss, out of their unlocked gun cabinet. That was the only thing stolen. Gee whiz, someone would think to rob a gun out of a house where the owner brags about owning guns, how shocking.

    But clearly the issue is video games and television and secularism.

  10. jonmoles says

    Well, he was correct about being desensitized. When you have Rethuglicans pushing a culture of fear for nearly four decades (or more) where anyone not like the “real” Americans is demonized and de-humanized, a large percentage of the populace does become desensitized to basic empathy.

  11. Tony Burns says

    About a week ago when I saw there had been 11 school shootings in the US this year I searched to see how Canada compared. The first hit also showed 11 school shootings. The difference being that the time period covered was 1975 to the present.

  12. Rich Woods says

    @Tony Burns #13:

    In the UK, to the best of my knowledge, we’ve only ever had one school shooting. That may explain why handguns were banned shortly thereafter.

  13. secondtofirstworld says

    @Rich Woods #14: In my old country of Hungary gun laws are strict, but there were murders with multiple victims carried out by illegally owned firearms, there were only 2 attempts at a school shooting, stopped in planning stages. Heck, despite all xenophobia geared toward refugees, even the nail bomber who attacked cops was a local white man.

    There was a firearm related incident last August though, the accidental shooter was an American who wounded an Irish citizen, so, as you can see my old home is even need of importing lax American gun safety to look more goofy than usual.

  14. ck, the Irate Lump says

    Should I be surprised that a supposed free speech defender is willing to blame the first amendment to protect the second? It’s certainly strange how that defense of free speech only ever seems to extend to religiously-justified bigotry.