Think back, if you will, to Columbine. Peel away the layers of dusted and decrepit news stories, the conspiracies and lies, lows and highs, and hunker down to that awful day in 1999.
15 dead, 24 injured.
If you're still with me, fast forward to January 8th of this year.
6 dead, 14 injured.
No, I'm not just rambling off random numbers and names. Below the dead and injured, I've made a note as to who gets the blame.
In this country we have a very interesting system of blame. If something is too terrible to fathom, it either has to be because the perpetrator was foreign or disturbed.
We don't say that the man who walked into a crowded marketplace with a bomb strapped to his chest is crazy. He's just a Muslim.
But holy shit, watch out - if it's an American - a true red, white and blue patriot, well fuck, he must be disturbed and crazy. No American would ever do something like that.
Hmmmm...why the double standard?
To quote Carl Jung again (I know I've used this one in a previous post), "People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own soul."
This quote is applicable two fold. First of all, we can't handle the truth. We can't handle the idea that one of our own, one that walks among us happy valley troopers could be so twisted. We're fine with the idea that the "outsiders" could be, and in fact are, beneath us and capable of grotesque and horrific deeds. But one of our own? No. That's our kids, our friends, our neighbours, our church-going buddies...no!
Secondly, it applies to the ones who do it. Extremism, as Eric Hoffer once said, is a great escape from your own self. In order to be extremist, you must drop all sense of self, you must abandon your own mind, your own soul, in the pursuit of the mass ideology.
The two shooters at Columbine were looped. Jared Loughner is looped. They held on to ideals that allowed them to not find fault in their actions, that allowed them not to think of consequences or emotion. Now, I happen to think that there was more at play here than just a simple dose of extremism. I think these kids were damaged from long before...but then who's fault is that?
Did Marilyn Manson raise Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold? Did Zeitgeist tell Loughner to shoot Giffords in the head? If anyone is at fault here, wouldn't it be the parents, the community, the people around them who did nothing and said nothing as the men they knew fell deeper into a dark hole of psychotic behaviour? A close friend to Loughner is quoted as having said that Zeitgeist poured gasoline on Loughners paranoia and as his grip on reality gave way to mental illness, he repeatedly watched that movie....
Well um..."close friend"...why the fuck didn't you say anything? Why the fuck didn't anyone say, um, you know Jared, he's been acting kinda creepy lately...writing some fucked up shit online. Perhaps we should say something...
But now, it's too late. If we could've stopped it, we'd be heroes, but now, since we didn't, we wash our hands of the whole thing.
If not, then we'd have to admit some blame, shoulder some responsibility. We'd have to point the finger back at ourselves instead of at the "others," the creatively twisted and societal outsiders. The ones who think outside the confines of appropriate borders.
Or, drum roll please...we might actually have to blame the fucked up nut jobs who did it - and the country that allows children to grow up with totally warped views of the world - lack of education, choke collared to patriotism, "US is the best", religion, and happy ignorance.
How many high school shootings occur in Europe? Oh...right...
I recently read an article by Michelle Goldberg citing the fact that Jared Loughner had become a big fan of Zeitgeist, the movie that sheds light (of course very opinionated light) on the workings of our government, economy, 9/11 and even Jesus. It is the most watched independent film ever. I have seen it a few times. It's certainly not uplifting but you don't see me cocking my gun and running over to City Hall. What Goldberg misses here is the most crucial: you can't always use media as the scapegoat. And I don't mean FOX news or American Idol. If someone blamed a shooting spree on those two, I might actually agree with them.
No, I mean music, art, film, books, newspapers, magazines. Should we arrest everyone who's read Mein Kampf? Should we bug everyone who listens to dark industrial metal? Should we point fingers at the artists who display horrific truths in their work?
I have a band that uses visuals AND music to discuss the political and social ills of our world. I constantly implore people to "Do Something." Can I be blamed if someone goes and "does something" violent or insane?
Under Michelle Goldberg's opinion I can. Under the opinion of the lovely, homey patriots of Colorado, I can.
As I said in my previous post, this is psychotic behaviour. This is the kind of fucked up mentality that spawns more fucked up mentalities that will snap and go over the edge.
We excel at never blaming ourselves. We excel at avoiding truth and holding on for dear life to the clean cut, wholesome American image we've been force fed since birth. Well, it's time to grow up. The creative, artistic Americans who call out the crooked, scheming workings of our government and country, should be supported! They should be appreciated for actually knowing what the fuck is going on in this damn country.
We do not live in an idealistic country. We have WAY more fucked up people walking around than we'd ever like to admit. And yes, they are Americans. They look like regular Americans. They don't look like Arabs, or gang members or soldiers. They look completely normal. They look like you and me.
Until we can admit that, until we can accept that we as a country, are fucked up, from the very top to the very bottom, we will never change. We will continue to see things like Columbine and Arizona. We will continue to piss off the world and ruin our own kids.
And we'll continue to blame it on the ones who are furthest from real fault, the people trying to change it.
Pity our complicity.