Modern culture, not gun ownership, is behind psychopathic violence
There are three ways a story is told: what is said, the way it is said and what is unsaid.
What was said last week was bad enough. Another hopeless loser felt entitled to vent his puny frustrations on helpless victims, seeking a brief moment of infamy.
The best thing done by Arapahoe County Sheriff Grayson Robinson in his press conference about the shooting and attempted bombing of the school in his jurisdiction was his refusal to speak the name of the perpetrator.
Questions continue to arise about why we have these things happen in Colorado, or at all. Perhaps the better question is: Why now?
Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s quite the mystery we would like to believe. Copycats appear near the original act and each act in Colorado raises the antenna of nearby sociopaths. Why they are drawn to the acts is another question.
The culture is flush with narcissism and entitlement that pushes an idea of fame at any cost and suggests that a violent act is justified whenever one’s actions are criticized or one’s thinking challenged.
The other side of that coin is a national media that has decided that “bullying” is practically any disagreeable social interaction between two or more people, and the victims of bullying develop some sort of disease that incubates psychopaths.
The fact that hundreds of thousands of children and adults had been bullied, hazed or subjected to demeaning initiation rituals over the last hundred years, while the emergence of the vengeful workplace or school-yard murderer is a relatively new phenomenon, is ignored.
Much of the problem is right in front of us, with a great deal of it on television. Cheap reality programs are the staple on some channels, and they magnify the idea of self-importance at the expense of everything else.
People are encouraged to engage in over-the-top responses to imagined slights and insults, as popular entertainers slam expensive champagne bottles at each other’s heads. They occasionally attempt, and sometimes successfully commit, violent crimes as a result of acts of disrespect so confusing and slight that they can hardly even be explained.
This is entertainment of the basest sort and is bad enough for adults. But it is absorbed quickly by impressionable adolescents and the slow-witted as an explanation of how one gains respect in this upside-down-values world.
All of this is explained away by a culture so obsessed with permissiveness for its own excesses that it implicitly devalues personal responsibility for mayhem.
Then there is the sad political component, such as the feeble attempt to tie the impulse to create these acts to something like the availability of a firearm.
Firearm violence is down. Narcissistic psychopaths are up. The connection between the actor and the instrument is almost unimportant, but constantly condemned, while obvious factors are ignored or, sadly, celebrated.
Even sadder is that discussions of these events are always politicized.
Another story out of Arapahoe County is replete with things left unsaid about the perpetrator or, worse yet, changed to protect a social narrative of angry conservatives and gun-rights advocates as time bombs.
The Denver Post is under fire for changing a story in which the original version had a fellow student referring to the perpetrator as a “very opinionated socialist” to simply “very opinionated.” The paper also included a quote high in the piece saying, “He had very strong beliefs about gun laws and stuff” and that apparently he’d been bullied a lot.
When challenged, the paper’s senior news editor indicated the Post didn’t want one student “labeling” the perpetrator with a term that “the student likely didn’t even understand.”
This quote came from a high school student who was in an economics class with the perpetrator, not a fourth grader.
Much further down, the story included quotations from the perpetrator’s Facebook page, with his mocking of Republicans and conservatives on a number of issues, including their support for gun rights.
None of these things seem to have much to do with his act of violence. But the fear his political beliefs might somehow damage the prevailing narrative from the left, which seeks to obscure psychopathic behaviors by calling them “gun crimes,” doesn’t help anyone’s understanding.
Rick Wagner writes more on politics at his blog, The War on Wrong.