The Media

The Pittsburgh Shooting

I've honestly been reconciling blame and influences with regards to the latest series of shooting sprees -- most especially the Pittsburgh shootings from yesterday.

In the past, and most recently during the Virginia Tech aftermath, I thought it was a mistake to focus on the shooter's apparent Oldboy movie influence. Certain kinds of art are so often demonized as the root cause of violence, be they video games or rock lyrics or movies or all three. And in many cases, unfairly so. It only serves to obscure the serious mental health issues lurking below the surface.

What are the differences, though, between the apparent influences of yesterday's shootings versus massacres like Columbine or Virginia Tech?

The far-right "they're coming for my guns" poseur militaristic set aren't lone nuts. They're not impressionable kids acting out. They are, in fact, believers in an ideology. An ideology that ordains guns as the only means by which to solve problems or to level the socio-political playing field. It's a kind of religion -- with the obvious players serving as ministers and purveyors of the ideological dogma.

Beck or Bachmann didn't pull the trigger. There exists free speech and press and that must be preserved. Yet there's such a thing as professional responsibility. It's wholly irresponsible to encourage the darker tendencies of one's audience -- especially for the sake of ratings or political gain. There are lines that shouldn't be crossed. What we're hearing on talk radio and on FOX News is gun porn, far beyond the realms of responsible political chatter. And it's up to Beck and the others to take a hard look at the content of their sermons and to understand that there are too many adults with firearms who are just one segment or NRA interview away from taking the Beck's theatrics too seriously.

Adding... To clarify, a lack of education along with mental health issues are likely the primary causes of these tragedies. But Beck and the others are deliberately inciting rage while actively exploiting eliminationist tendencies. There's no denying that there's an effort to preach to easily manipulated listeners the notion of real-life armed insurrection.