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The Problem is Not the NRA

gunsIntroduction

Today I read of another appalling American tragedy; a baby shot in the head by a group of adolescents after a failed armed robbery of the child’s mother.

Although these shocking incidents are increasingly occurring in other centres of Western Civilisation, most notably my native Australia, my adopted UK and even, incomprehensibly, Norway, the United States is undoubtedly the premiervictim, epicentre and progenitor of this collective societal disease that has come to other western countries along with the American cultural invasion.

Having lived through 40 years of this evolution of a collective disease and consciously observed it as a sentient, educated, reflective, socially aware and concerned individual, let me tell you, in a calm voice, with absolute assurance, the problem is not the NRA.

Whose Fault Is It?

There has been timeless debate about whether we humans (at least the male of the species) are fundamentally violent and will always need some outlet for our violent tendencies. I would argue that while we clearly have a capability or violence and in the right circumstances, an obvious tendency to use perhaps even unthinkable violence, it’s never our first or preferred choice – humans are social animals and for the casual application of violence, at least within the society, the risks and consequences are too great. Invariably, humans use violence when reason fails, particularly when, rationally or irrationally, we perceive a threat to our personal well-being or survival and experience the frustration or desperation of not having rational means at our disposal to overcome it.At higher levels of rational development we are capable of reflecting critically about our wants, differentiating them from needs and relieving our compulsion to attain them. Where there is a greater innate or acquired capacity for reason the resort to violence shifts from a reflex action to measure of last resort; perhaps not even a considered option.

We all have an interest, whether we live in a gated community or an under-privileged suburb, in a better-educated and more egalitarian society in which all participants feel sure that they will be able to satisfy their needs present and future, are fulfilled in the pursuit of at least some of their wants and are equipped with the mental skills and awareness to manage their wants.

So the fault, dear reader, may not lie so much in ourselves as in the stars under which we were born. Born into a society that devalues reason and education as just a means to a job, resorts collectively to violence to solve its collective problems, demeans the value of human life (Madeline Albright thought the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under five was a price worth paying – for what?), protects its own criminals and persecutes those who expose their crimes and shows no concern for those who are victims of its changing order, human beings are naturally more inclined to violence.

The currently-expanding American cultural ethos, as it permeates the western world, now creates and cultivates endemic fear among people that present and future needs may not be possible to meet in a climate of extreme, compassionless and rapidly increasing wealth divide powered by criminal fraud and violence. This is the disease that is infecting America’s allies and has been doing so for at least 40 years.

So What Is The Problem?

When squadrons of people rush to blame the availability of guns, a falsehood, which, as is always the case, contains a modicum of truth, they neglect and perhaps completely ignore both the question of why the killers have used the gun in the first place and the circumstantial conditions that create the inclination to kill others. The availability of a gun is just a facilitator or enabler, not the impetus.

The problem must surely arise from those elements that create the impetus, not the enabler. But as with the question of terrorism, Americans fear to ask the question of why they hate us; the question of why our own fellow Americans might want to kill us is all the more frightening. Better to make Charlton Heston a figure of hate, fallen from grace.

In the UK in February 1993 a little boy named JamieBulger, only two years old was abducted, tortured and murdered by two ten-year-old boys. There had been appalling murders beforein the UK by psychopaths such as Ian Brady and Myra Hindley in the 1960s or Frederick West in the 1980s, but this crime particularly shocked Britain because the perpetrators were just boys.

Tony Blair, then the Shadow Home Secretary, gave a speech in which he said: "We hear of crimes so horrific they provoke anger and disbelief in equal proportions... These are the ugly manifestations of a society that is becoming unworthy of that name.".Such irony! This man would go on to deceive his cabinet and the British public in order to plan and carry out an aggressive war, the supreme international crime that contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole of war itself.

To quote (severally) from Wikipedia on the subject of Jamie’s murder:

The trial judge Mr. Justice Morland stated that exposure to violent videos might have encouraged the actions of Thompson and Venables, but this was disputed by David Maclean, the Minister of State at the Home Office at the time, who pointed out that police had found no evidence linking the case with "video nasties". Some UK tabloid newspapers claimed that the attack on James Bulger was inspired by the film Child's Play 3, and campaigned for the rules on "video nasties" to be tightened. During the police investigation, it emerged that Child's Play 3 was one of the films that Jon Venables' father had rented in the months prior to the killing, but it was not established that Jon had ever watched it. One scene in the film shows the malevolent doll Chucky being splashed with blue paint during a paintball game. A Merseyside detective said "We went through something like 200 titles rented by the Venables family. There were some you or I wouldn't want to see, but nothing - no scene, or plot, or dialogue - where you could put your finger on the freeze button and say that influenced a boy to go out and commit murder." Inspector Ray Simpson of Merseyside Police commented: "If you are going to link this murder to a film, you might as well link it to The Railway Children". The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 clarified the rules on the availability of certain types of video material to children.

This fragile defence against the implication of “video nasties” in such horrors is so faulty and vulnerable to reasoned argument (as Justice Morland could see) that it’s hard to understand why prominent people such as Inspector Ray Simpson of Merseyside Police, a Merseyside detective, the Minister of State at the Home Officeshould go on the public record to present it. The implication of violent videos was discussed far more widely at the time than merely in “Some UK tabloid newspapers”. It was also publicised (veracity risk acknowledged) that the two boys had spent their holidays watching Child's Play 3repeatedly and had come directly from a viewing to the scene of the abduction. Still further, there are other parallels between the fate of “Chucky” and that of Jamie than merely blue paint.

However, when two more boys hold up a mother at gun-point and shoot her baby in the head, are we not witnessing two developing personalities attempting to emulate role models they see in endless, psychotic variations acted out before them in all forms of entertainment media? Can we possibly imagine that they are in any way different from all other adolescents seeking to identify themselves, albeit misguidedly, with some way of being they have seen exemplified and glorified at some point in their lives?

Where Does It Come From?

Our entertainment media is awash with violence. It’s so endemic, shocking and extreme that it can reasonably be called an obsession of the industry – and we accept it as “normal” or casually say “you or I wouldn't want to see” when we see it indulged by others. Even animation and children’s entertainment is full of subtle underlying violence of raised voices, imperatives and threats, which convey subliminal messages. It serves a purpose.There is no “chicken and egg” discussion about whether the industry is satisfying a popular demand or the choice has been pre-emptively foisted on the viewing public by persuasive advertising; the truth of this is obvious.

Children’s stories the likes of the Beatrix Potter series, Kenneth Graeme’s Wind in the Willows or the now “Americanised” Winnie the Pooh are rich and humanistic talesthat exemplify the far preferable possibilities and in the days before the British, European and Australian film industries were swamped and sabotaged by the American cultural invasion there was an endless array of non-violent, informative, artful and engaging films that were far preferable to the puerile, manufactured trivia and propagandist nonsense (Skyfall and Argo) that is today the only show in town and is boot-stamped into the public mind by multi-million dollar advertising campaigns; always with an insidious purpose.

In the late 1980s I saw the film Top Gun and immediately considered it a war propaganda film. I was prophetic. The Desert Storm in Iraq of 1991 was an airborne attack on a nation’s infrastructure destroying roads, bridges, factories, water treatment and sewage plants and hospitals on a scale not seen since WW2. Top Gun was produced in 1986; whether it was produced with the intention to generate a burgeoning flood of young “heroes” desperately eager to get themselves into a jetfighter and into a fight would be difficult to prove but I am quite certain and with good reason, that it had that effect.

In March 1997 I was living in Townsville in north-eastern Australia when U.S. and Australian governments conducted a major joint exercise called Tandem Thrustinvolving 28,000 personnel, 252 aircraft and 43 ships. The exercise took over the town, its media and the minds of its locals for over a fortnight. In the course of all this madness I heard a radio interview with a female US officer participating in the exercises. Being a woman she was asked what motivated her to join the military and she immediately mentioned seeing the film Top Gun.

This, of course is merely anecdote, but it’s first-hand experience and part of a broad spectrum of opinion-forming experience that serves to illustrate what’s going on. It comes from 40 years of engaged life and experience of this sort that I see Hollywood as the means by which the people who own western capitalism and with it the United States, control of the hearts and minds of friends and foes (allies and enemies) alike. It is the rapturous engagement of supposedly educated and informed people with ‘the world according to Hollywood’ and their failure to engage with other sources that should inform them as to the non-celluloid realities of the world they live in that creates a situation in which the Australian Prime Minister goes to Washington to fawn over the US congress extoling “America” like an enchanted young lover, send thousands of young, fellow-Australians to risk their lives fighting American wars and still worse, welcome an American military occupation of her own country.

But the foolish embrace of such celluloid fantasy brings with it perilous consequences and the effects on Australian life, the outlook of the Australian people and the fast-evaporating, nascent Australian “culture” is pernicious to say the least.

Why Is It There?

Cultivating a society that is seasoned to the false idea that the world must be shaped by violence, imbued with a fear of violence at home and a distorted notion of the value of human life that declines exponentially from the self,becoming zero at the national border and celebrates as heroes young men who are willing to go to far-off and impoverished lands to kill people who are fighting for their own countries is a quite deliberate purpose that serves the interests of a privileged few. In particular, it serves those who own the oil companies and the pseudo-democratic governments they sustain.

Instilling as an accepted norm in society the kind of values amenable to mustering an endless resource of young men and women who will readily engage in such violence on demand, as soldiers or as police, and amid a widespread public attitude that will accept and support the wide-scale murder of people in other countries, or even occasional murder at home, as a means to some vague and abstract self-serving end inevitably has wider implications and consequences.

For those who live behind the walls of affluent and privileged communities and the perimeter ranks of militarised and glass-shielded, violently-inclined riot police there exists an illusion of safety and superiority of the kind that allows them to speak of the other that is outside their bubble as a “sick and broken society” (David Cameron on the London Riots) and yet deceives them into the belief that they themselves are separate from that society and immune from the consequences that stem essentially from the effects of the power they exert.We the people of the thinking masses should not embrace this illusion as if we also are separate.

The American constitution itself speaks of the people taking up arms against a government that is pernicious to the wider interests of the people of the nation.

It seems to me that much of the motivation for preserving gun laws in the US that enshrine and enable that access of the people to arms they might wish to take up against their own government comes from people who perceive that theirs is just such a government. I do not think it wise for Americans to so reflexively condemn those who wish to preserve the right to own guns, despite the obvious ill-health of their society, without fully considering the circumstances of their nation and the motivations of those who support the gun laws and the NRA.

  • The problem is not the guns and it’s not the gun laws.
  • The problem is not the NRA.
  • The problem is the universal failure to ask “Why?”.

A corrupt government, a deceitful commercial media and a dominant amoral corporate elite that perpetuates the lie of democracycreates the failure of reason and the frustration soon to become widespread desperation that is the ultimate source of violence. The abuse of power that cultivates violent attitudes as a means to achieve the goals of empire throws gasoline on the flames.


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