There’s a lot going on in the world at the moment, although perhaps it just feels that way because it’s so near Christmas now. At a time where the entertainment world, in terms of US and UK television both tend to wind down a little, with the exception of UK soaps which are gearing up for big Christmas day episodes, the political and economic worlds seem to be quite busy. There’s the ongoing Syria conflict, Egypt is voting on a constitution, in Northern Ireland people are still fighting over a flag, media in both England and Australia are in dispute over a nurse’s suicide and just recently a twenty year old man shot up an elementary school.
At times like this, it can be difficult to know how exactly to use this blog. Generally, it’s a platform for my opinion on all things creative and interesting, ranging from books to television and movies to video games. And in the case of something such as the midnight shooting at a showing of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorada, the two sometimes overlap but that’s rare. Less rare is that most shootings and murders will be blamed on video games and television regardless of whether they had any legitimate connection to the killings or the killer.
An example of that is when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attacked their high school in Columbine and murdered 12 students and teachers and one teacher and injured 20 others. Following the shooting there were many investigations into what exactly might have caused two high school kids to feel the need to kill innocent people that they doubtlessly passed in the hallways every day. The blame was set on pretty much everything under the sun, ranging from the video game DOOM and music by Marilyn Manson. While they did play DOOM, there is nothing to suggest that they used it to plan their attack or built mods resembling the school grounds as many have tried to suggest. The Marilyn Manson connection is even more ludicrous, as neither one was even a fan of his music.
Regardless of why, one thing that we can know for use is that the Columbine murder is still the deadliest mass murder committed in an American high school. A more terrifying fact is that if Harris and Klebold’s homemade bombs had worked as they intended, the body count would have been much higher. Their bombs were placed in the cafeteria during the busy lunch time but thankfully they failed to detonate. Since then, there have been two shootings that were worse that Columbine, in terms of body count at least. Death is death and for the families of victims even one death is horrendous. But the only two shootings since then to even have as high a body count are the Virginia Tech Massacre and the recent shooting at the elementary school in Sandy Hook.
As a citizen of the United Kingdom, it’s difficult for me to really comment on what the best approach to a school shooting is. I’ve grown up in a country where guns are not widely sold and only really farmers or law enforcers are armed. Trying to shoot up a school in the United Kingdom would be a lot more difficult because trying to acquire the weaponry would raise serious flags. And maybe that is the answer. Tighter gun control in America would severely hinder the ability for people to act out with such dire consequences. Don’t get me wrong, there would still be violence. There are parts of a Britain which are very well known for its knife crimes and certain bodies of organisation will always find ways of acquiring what they need. But for the average person, picking up a hand gun and culling two dozen of the population would be much harder.
That said, tighter gun control only really deals with one symptom and not the underlying problem. It’s like a tissue for a runny nose when you’ve got the flu. However, knowing what the exact problem to fix is difficult also. You could blame drugs. Eric Harris was on Luvox, which has been said to be 8.4 times likely to be associated with violence than other drugs of that nature, and Dylan Klebold was considered a depressive as well. James Eagan Holmes, of the Aurora theatre shooting, was highly intelligent and was enrolled with a PhD in Neuroscience before dropping out without reason and listing himself as a labourer. Finally, Adam Lanza, of the Sandy Hook shootings, was described by his own brother as suffering from a personality disorder. There is a clear consistency between the killers of all three incidents and psychological disorders that cause them to feel like killing others and themselves is something they have to do. Maybe there’s more we can do in this instance to be a world of people who don’t just throw drugs at a problem like depression and disorder. Maybe we can prevent more acts like this if take time to care for people. On the Bowling for Columbine documentary, Marilyn Manson himself remarked “I would listen to what they have to say and that’s what no one did.”
Of course, it’s possible that blaming the drug culture is just as much an act of scapegoating as blaming video games or music in these instances. Yet, I think as humans we always look for a reason behind terrible acts of violence such as this because we want to believe that we are naturally better than this and that someone or something has made us more barbaric and primal. Maybe it would be closer to the truth to suggest that actually our natural state of being is one of violence and selfishness that we, perhaps with assistance from someone or something, have managed to restrain and overcome.
In the end, we don’t really know why we do the things that we do. We can work our whole life and never really know why. Probably only God knows. All we can really say is that our thoughts and prayers go to all those who have suffered, victims and their families alike, both past and present alike and pray too for those that society failed.