On Friday, the head of the largest “lobbying firm for the promotion of gun sales” in the country (otherwise known as the “NRA”), Wayne LaPierre (who henceforth shall be referred to only as “GunNut” in accordance with my policy of not making celebrities out of mass murderers) blamed everyone & everything… EXCEPT guns… for the deaths of 26 people (technically, 28) children & teachers in a Connecticut school exactly one week earlier, blaming “violent movies & Video-games”. This is following several of his fellow Right-Wing lunatics blaming “the lack of God in our classrooms” for the deaths in Sandy Hook, not a mentally unstable kid’s access to a semi-automatic rifle and multiple 30-round magazines.
The whole debate over “arming teachers” and scapegoating “secularism” & “video games” strikes home for me in three very direct ways: 1) I worked as a substitute teacher and teachers aide for years, 2) I’m an Agnostic that has seen my share of “pious” idiots claiming moral superiority while treating other people like crap, threatening violence, swearing like Merchant Marines, defending war and astonishing greed, picking & choosing the parts of the Bible that support their hateful beliefs, while ignoring (or reinterpreting) those parts that don’t.
As a teacher, I noted recently that the likelihood of me being near a secured weapon in my desk in an emergency was remote. And I certainly wasn’t about to start a firefight in a classroom full of kids. My first objective (as it was for the teachers in Newtown) would be to move the students to safety. I wouldn’t dare carry a weapon ON me. Very young kids like to grab onto you, even sometimes grabbing onto my legs while I walked. And older kids… I couldn’t imagine the tragic results if an angry student wrestled a gun away from a teacher. Heck, even something as simple as a trip & fall could of had tragic consequences.
Also, 3) back in 2000, I worked tirelessly for two years to try and start one of the first Internet-gaming “Cyber Cafe’s” in the country back when most people were still using “modems” to connect to the Internet. Even back then, the debate over the influence violent video games had on children was a serious business hurdle I had to prepare for prior to making any pitch to SBA loan officers on the profitability of my idea (one bank agreed to back me provided I raise 20 percent of the startup cash on my own. Then the economy collapsed under Bush… BEFORE 9/11. Any chance of raising my funding vanished, which was the start of my visceral dislike of the Bush Administration.)
So when I hear people blame “a lack of God” or “violent movies & games” for some nut that murders a dozen people with a gun he snuck out of Daddy’s closet, I know it’s a load of crap.
First off, the idea that the massacre in CT took place because “we’ve taken God out of our schools”, as cited by the vile Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich (along with many, many other Right-Wing crackpots) is wildly offensive. Since the shooter was 20 years old and no longer in school, are these two creeps blaming the children for “not praying hard enough”? God wasn’t in that school? You know who was? Six teachers that GAVE THEIR LIVES PROTECTING THOSE CHILDREN. How many of these children/teachers attended church every Sunday only to get mowed down by a deranged man with access to Mommy’s assault weapon five days later? Does God only protect you while you’re in church? If that’s the case, explain all the church shootings just over the past year:
- LA parishioner killed outside church attempting to stop a tagger from spray-painting his church. His fault. He stepped outside.
- Man shot dead in Atlanta church while leading prayer. Hmmm, he was IN the church when he got shot? Must not have been praying hard enough.
- Shooting in Wisconsin Sikh temple. Wrong God?
- Just this past Friday in Pennsylvania, a man went on shooting spree, killing three people including a woman inside her church. Four police officers were also injured.
…just to name a few.
The idea that any decline in “public morality” is to blame for the deaths of all these people is truly offensive. Consider this: the Sandy Hook shooter and his mother attended church there in town. And while the shooter’s mother was an apocalyptic end-time Conservative gun-nut that purchased the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle her son used to kill her and 26 others because she believed the insane Right-Wing hysteria of “a looming economic collapse under Obama”, she was by all accounts a concerned mother that taught her son how to shoot “to help him overcome his shyness” and (reportedly) “to become more sociable.” Worked like a charm, I’d say.
So, the Sandy Hook shooter grew up in an extremely Conservative home, regularly attended church, was taught about “proper firearm usage & safety” (which supposedly lifts the veil on the mystery of guns and makes kids less curious about them, promoting safety), all the things these Right-wing Cretins claim is necessary to counter the “immorality in our society” that leads to such acts of destruction.
GunNut’s “solution” Friday was that we need “armed guards in every school”. We’ll ignore for a moment that there are over 98-THOUSAND public schools in this country, and the average armed guard makes $50K/year (that’s nearly $5-Billion dollars for those of you keeping score at home), and that anti-tax zealot Grover Norquist is on the NRA’s board of directors, and that neither GunNut nor TaxNut explained just how they intend to pay for all those armed guards they insist we need… no, set that aside for a moment while I remind you that just days before Newtown, there was a shooting in a Portland, Oregon shopping mall, and last August was the Aurora movie theater shooting. So do we place armed guards in every mall and theater (not just one for the entire Cineplex, but an armed “Air-Marshall” in every screening room)? Is THAT GunNut’s “solution”? Of course not. They think the path to safety is to turn every classroom, shopping mall, church and movie theater in the country into the OK Corral.
So then, if it wasn’t a lack of “God”, it must have been “movies & video games”, right?
After hearing dozens of my fellow Lefties (and the President himself) concede the Right-Wing talking-point that “violent movies and video games” play a role in promoting violence in our culture, I angrily Tweeted out during GunNut’s Press Conference Friday:
#LaPierre is on now scapegoating movies & games that are available in EVERY country. No mention of the kids. #NRAkills #SandyHook @maddow
Guess what? The violent movies and games that are so popular in this country AREN’T SEEN IN JUST THIS COUNTRY! You think “Natural Born Killers” was violent? You should see “Tokyo Gore Police”, or any of the dozen ultra-violent “Manga” films coming out of Japan each year. And just where do you think many of these violent video games are produced? (though oddly, despite the Japanese apatite for ultra-violent films, ultra-violent video games aren’t big sellers in the land of “Super Mario Bros.”)
As the Washington Post reported last week: a Ten-country comparison suggests there’s little or no link between video games and gun murders. The U.S. actually spends a lot less per capita on video games (see chart) than almost every other industrialized nation where guns are legal, yet we dwarf every other nation on Earth when it comes to gun-related murders each year. The difference in those other countries? Super-strict gun laws.
GunNut actually cited (PDF transcript. Abridged version here) several movies and games that were released decades ago (or in one case, before the shooter was even born in 1992) for the violence in our society: “blood-soaked slasher films like ‘American Psycho’ (2000) and ‘Natural Born Killers’ (1994).” I couldn’t help but notice GunNut failed to mention Conserva-war-porn like “Zero Dark Thirty” or the recently released remake of “Red Dawn” where American kids with guns fight off an invasion by North Korea.
And the games? GunNut cites “Mortal Kombat”… a martial arts video-game with no guns that was popular in arcades (remember those?) around the time I finished high school in 1986, and a lame (and very sick) ten year old Flash-based game called “Kindergarten Killer” (screenshot). GunNut did NOT cite “Call of Duty”, a more recent game that glorifies the military and the shooter reportedly played (mystery solved). Meanwhile there is no evidence the shooter actually played any of the games or watched any of these movies that GunNut mentioned. All we DO know is he grew up in a Christian Conservative home with a mother that loved semi-automatic weapons and cared enough about her son to try and teach him how to use them.
You might find it interesting to learn (as I did) that while GunNut was decrying video games that glorify gunplay, the NRA itself released a target shooting game for kids called “NRA GunClub” for the PlayStation 2 back in 2007.
Other violent video games not mentioned: “Left Behind: Eternal Forces”, a video game connected to Rick Warren’s Saddleback Mega-church based on the best-selling Chri-Fi (my own word for Religious-based science fiction) book-series that directs a militia of armed foot soldiers to convert-or-eliminate the people “left behind” following The Rapture (I’ve never played the game myself, but I’m wondering why the player was not Raptured along with his fellow Christians, and instead “left behind” to blow away anyone that refused to come-to-Jehezus?)
Blowing away heathens didn’t satisfy your blood-lust with the first game? That’s alright. Part-2 was released less than a year later. (One of Warren’s top aides resigned in protest in 2006, citing the game’s violence, as avatars shout “Praise the Lord” as they blow-away infidels, and even the ability of players to join the other side and work for Satan. Warren was on “Fox news Sunday” yesterday, but there was no mention of the Rapture-themed video games his church once consulted on.
Jon Perr of “PERRspectives” pointed out last week that the same people fighting common-sense restrictions on Assault Weapons are the same people who defended the most abusive civil rights violations of the Bush Administration after 9/11 on the grounds: “None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.” (Are you as sick of Right-Wing hypocrisy as I am?)
This is some pretty sick merde (pardon my French).
Conservative pundit and former Bush adviser Matt Dowd made this surprisingly sane & apt analogy during ABC’s “ThisWeek” yesterday:
“When you have a bully on the playground with a baseball bat, you don’t respond by giving every child a baseball bat. You take the bat away from the bully and take measures to make sure it never happens again.”
You know certain Republicans are going off the deep-end when other Republicans start calling them out for their extremism (eg: the entire Fox “Power Panel” yesterday… including Bill Kristol AND [Lord help us] Laura Ingraham all seemed to agree that House Republicans are being unreasonable, risking everyone going over the “Fiscal Cliff” just to secure tax cuts for millionaires, rather than simply accept President Obama’s deal to extend tax cuts for 98% of all Americans.) Good Lord! I feel like Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Both GunNut and every Republican that dared come out in support of gun rights yesterday all cited the 1999 “Columbine” massacre as an example of the “failure of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban”. Clearly, the ban on Assault Weapons and high capacity clips/magazines… passed only five years earlier… didn’t stop two kids from murdering a dozen classmates. I can’t help but find it a tad ironic/absurd that if Tax Cuts… which supposedly will “spur massive job growth” and “pay for themselves”… haven’t worked after 30 years, the problem is that “we didn’t cut taxes ENOUGH” and we need to “give them MORE TIME” (ie: “make the Bush tax cuts permanent”.) But when it comes to gun laws, if they aren’t a 100% smashing success in just five years, it proves the experiment was a total failure. It’s not like these weapons & magazines don’t magically disappear the moment you ban them, right? The moment Democrats banned Assault Weapons and high-capacity clips, all the existing ones simply faded away, right? How else do we explain their continued existence five years after we banned them?
If you are unwilling to address “access”, you’re part of the problem, not the solution.
PS: I added a new “Free Movie” link (see left margin) to Michael Moore’s Academy Award winning documentary, “Bowling for Columbine”.
Be sure to come back Monday for our annual End of Year Predictions edition!
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