The shooting in Newtown, CT have, for the foreseeable future, put my twin muses Cynicism and Sarcasm on hold.
This would normally be the time of year wherein I would eagerly tell anyone within earshot about my favorite Holiday song:
Yeah, not quite appropriate.
For that matter, my favorite Christmas movie…
Nope, not that either.
To do so this holiday season, what with all that has gone on over the past week, would put me in a place where even I am uncomfortable being, given the level in which such a place divorces itself from reality.
But that, apparently, didn’t stop NRA Vice President Wayne La Pierre last week:
LAPIERRE: And here’s another dirty little truth that the media try their best to conceal. There exists in this country, sadly, a callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells and stows violence against its own people. Through vicious, violent video games with names like “Bullet Storm,” “Grand Theft Auto,” “Mortal Combat,” and “Splatterhouse.”And here’s one, it’s called “Kindergarten Killers.” It’s been online for 10 years. How come my research staff can find it, and all of yours couldn’t? Or didn’t want anyone to know you had found it? Add another hurricane, add another natural disaster. I mean we have blood-soaked films out there, like “American Psycho,” “Natural Born Killers.” They’re aired like propaganda loops on Splatterdays and every single day.1,000 music videos, and you all know this, portray life as a joke and they play murder — portray murder as a way of life. And then they all have the nerve to call it entertainment. But is that what it really is? Isn’t fantasizing about killing people as a way to get your kicks really the filthiest form of pornography? In a race to the bottom, many conglomerates compete with one another to shock, violate, and offend every standard of civilized society, by bringing an even more toxic mix of reckless behavior, and criminal cruelty right into our homes. Every minute, every day, every hour of every single year.
I found it interesting that LaPierre might have been giving this exact same speech after the 1999 Columbine shootings, what with the movies and games he mentioned so sadly dated that you have to wonder if he is still watching films on a VCR, or even a DVD, much less Blu-Ray. And last time I checked, I can’t recall any recently significant music video, particularly given how what used to pass for music television is anything but an outlet for music video. While a topic for another time, music television effectively killed the music video star.
But in order to obfuscate the point, the true sign of a Mayan Apocalypse, wasn’t in the nature of an End-of-Days, it was in the NRA’s stubborn insistence that American culture can only actualize through unbridled access to assault weaponry and/or high capacity magazines. It truly must be an inconvenience to have to reload while shooting target practice; or to be an unprepared hunter in the face of either a wildlife banzai attack or a zombie assault.
Even more remarkable however, is that Wayne LaPierre‘s unctuous thinking is guaranteed by the First Amendment, even while he seeks to trample other people’s First Amendment rights, in this instance, filmmakers, songwriters, and game designers. All of this to protect the gun lobby’s perpetual misinterpretation of the Second Amendment. It calls to mind this exchange from Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine:
John Nichols: No one has the right to tell me I can’t have it. That is protected on our constitution.
Michael Moore: Where does it say a handgun is protected?
John Nichols: No, gun. We should…
Michael Moore: [interupting] It doesn’t say gun. It says “arms”.
John Nichols: Arms. What is “arms”?
Michael Moore: Could be a nuclear weapon.
John Nichols: It’s not these – That’s right. It could be a nuclear weapon.
Michael Moore: Do you think you should have the right to have weapons-grade plutonium here in the farm field?
John Nichols: We should be able to have anything…
Michael Moore: [interupting] Should you have weapons? Should you have weapons-grade plutonium?
John Nichols: I don’t want it.
Michael Moore: But, should you have the right to have it if you did want it?
John Nichols: [thinking about it] That should be restricted.
Michael Moore: Oh. Oh, so you do beleive in some restrictions?
John Nichols: Well, there’s wackos out there.
It was in this interest that I set out Christmas shopping over this final weekend. My niece wanted roller skates. My nephew, on the other hamd, wanted a gift certificate to GameStop–knowing how much the lad wanted to use that game as a chance to undergo training in mass violence and mayhem with which to use to eventually gain tragic notoriety…
Wait. He wasn’t. I had to take into account who his mother was. Very few people cross my kid sister. And William certainly wouldn’t. In fact, my brother-in-law even mentioned that there’s no way that they’d allow him to purchase violent video games in the first place. Still, on Christmas Eve, it was funny to watch my nephew beg my sister and brother-in-law to let him use the gift card to buy Assassin’s Creed III.
Even if they did wind up letting him get the game, my brother-in-law had shared, earlier, they trusted his boy to know the difference.
If the NRA is to be considered a vital part of this country’s conservative movement, it’s instructive (as well as sad) to consider how much so-called “conservative” values, amongst all of the frontline groups who claim to represent that side of the political spectrum, have succeeded in fraying the very familial infrastructure they claim to want to maintain–not just within the family, but each family’s role within the larger American community. In a political climate that over this past generation has created a mentality of winner-take-all over all-for-one, for all of America’s purported freedoms, once eloquently summarized by President Franklin Roosevelt, freedom from fear has been summarily replaced by freedom to fear. We’ve created an American culture rife with mutual distrust. It’s little wonder that the only solace that such distrust can find manifest is the right to access heavy weaponry.
Years ago, while cleaning up around my house as a kid, I came across this battered old revolver. I showed it to my kid sister, and the two of us asked my Mom, who took it out of where it had been and put the thing away. We had a general idea where it was located, but neither of us ever considered looking for it again. Still, honestly, when things used to get tense between my parents, I always wondered if I’d ever see its reappearance. But that I never did, taught me something — that having access to a weapon does not mean you have to use the thing. That even with the inevitable tension between my parents, usually about something financial, I never got the sense that the argument would be ended with firepower.
Exposure to something doesn’t mean being tainted. My daughter hears expletives, and knows not to repeat them. My nephew could even play Assassin’s Creed, and not get urges to attack people with a musket and hand axe. My sister and brother-in-law are aware of what he does. But I also know that our respective domestic situations are far more secure with respect to familial dynamics than those situations that are not. Adam Lanza’s domestic circumstances, in addition to his mental state, had to have something to do with his internal demons. Ready access to weaponry at home had to have made it worse.
Of course, there’s this:
In addition to his technological and weapons prowess, Adam Lanza was an excellent dancer – at least within the confines of the Dance Dance Revolution video game.
“It’s an arcade game as well as on the home systems where you basically dance around to a pattern on the screen,” Hanoman said. “And he was extremely good at it.
Wayne LaPierre should have been all over that, decrying “Dancing with the Stars” or any movie directed by Adam Shankman, no?