prev : next : index SPEW

May 1, 1999: in her sad america


I've avoided writing about the Littleton incident and the various political reactions to it up until now. I'm afraid I'm just too politically biased for my opinion to be very meaningful. But the situation with the flag-burning amendment is kind of ticking me off. I can't imagine smart people (like Republican politicians) not getting it, so it's hard for me not to feel like they're just vote-pandering with this thing. (And the Democrats going along for the ride, too.) The flag is our symbol of freedom. The US of A has a perhaps surprising low incidence of terrorism (e.g. blowing up federal buildings), because people are free to criticize and complain about the way things stand here. Burning the flag is the ultimate statement of that, and the flag is the highest symbol of that supposed freedom. Taking away the real freedom to interact with that symbol is an astonishing symbolic act.

It would be wrong, though, to confuse Littleton with terrorism. These kids didn't kill to protest, criticize, or attempt to bring down the government. I think, however, it's safe to say that they killed to protest and criticize (ok, really, to take revenge on) the society in which they lived. At their age, government was probably a little intangible to worry about. They were busy worrying about how their "peers" affected their lives, not the government.

Where do we go with this analogy? I don't know. I don't know if there's an equivalent kind of "freedom" we can give to young people. I do think there's some commonality here--these people don't feel like they have control over their lives; their lives do not go the way they want them to. But pushing the analogy further may be pointless.

What triggered this journal was reading more discussion complaining about violence in entertainment. I really wish people would clue in. Millions of people are exposed to this sort of media violence day-in and day-out. One day, two of them kill a bunch of people. Should we blame the media violence? If the media violence were responsible, shouldn't there be a lot more killing? Well, that's not fair, as it requires the "wrong" mind in the "wrong" situation to trigger it, and we can't know how often that happens.

Or can we?

Look at the copycat incidents in the two weeks after the incident. Here are people who took in media portrayals of violence and said to themselves "Hey, I could do that".

If violence in entertainment were the problem, those "copycats" would have acted long ago.

prev : next : month : index : : home
attribution dammit: Matte Kudasai King Crimson