Dumb Struck

Yesterday, while I paused for a few moments to post a link to startling images that I feel puts the trivial issues of daily life into an overwhelming perspective of complete insignificance, something horrible was happening on a college campus in Virginia. Only 6 months ago, almost to the day, I wrote about the impact a shooting at a children’s school in Pennsylvania had on me, and those words and thoughts bear repeating today. I went back and re-read them and they echo how I feel, just as I did only half a year ago.

Tonight, my wife and I talked briefly about the events today. Also, a post at theshapeofdays.com, a blog I read regularly, touched on the concept of blame that tends to arise.

Personally, I have to wonder if we’re all not collectively to blame for being complacent and tolerant of the decline if not the disappearance of moral boundaries in our daily lives and the media that pervades them. It’s sickening to compare what was ‘acceptable’ a mere 25 years ago and what we see, view, say and hear daily today. I strongly believe that the continue presentation of violence as entertainment, and the extremely graphic depictions that are allowed, contribute to a desensitized populace. Just as one example: it’s become so bad that we frequently rely on TiVo’s fast forward feature in order to skip past the gruesome and disturbing images used just in trailers for many of the films being made these days.

Yes, people snap. Over lovers quarrels, being slighted, feeling like outcasts, or family abuse. People snap. They have historically and will continue to do so. But for some reason, barring my own ignorance of the metrics, it seems like the frequency of people’s reactions to the pressures they’re feeling leading to pickup up a weapon and taking lives, even random lives, seems to be greatly on the rise.

My brother was living with a woman in the late 1980’s. He, she and her roommate, Glenda, worked at ESL. Both his girlfriend and Glenda were close to our family and we all spent time together having dinners, drinks and just socializing. My brother had moved out after the relationship soured, but not long before Richard Farley walked into ESL on a morning in February and went on a shooting spree, killing seven innocent people that were in the wrong place at the wrong time, one of which was Glenda. It shocked our family, the community, and the nation. It seemed unbelievable and inconceivable, as things like that just “did not happen”.

Now it’s worked it’s way up to being something we’re seeing a couple times a year.

What’s changed? Really…. what’s changed that’s somehow contributed to this being more common place? Why do schools need metal detectors? Why does the preschool my children attend need to have, for god sake, a contingency plan in place should a shooting incident arise?

WTF? And what will change the trend?


Written by gsm

04/17/2007 at 5:08 am

Posted in  Journal 

3 Responses

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  1. I agree and could not have said this better myself. Someone told me when the Virgina shooting’s happened (while rolling thier eyes) “Oh god another shooting like those kids in Colorado”. The lack of response made me stop and look at them. Unable to speak for a moment. Have we become ‘numb’ to the idea of random acts of profound violence? This person continued eating a bagel and changed the channel on our break room TV. I was almost more horrified then the actual shooting. The mere idea that this horrible series of events gets a shrug and a ‘cant believe my favorite show is cancelled because of this shit’ comment terrifies me. The momment we forget as human beings to feel and show compassion a bleak picture forms for the future of humanity.


    04/17/2007 at 3:25 pm

  2. What will change the trend is a reduction in the number of violent acts which people (especially younger people) are exposed to on a daily basis. News and other mass-media outlets seem to exclusively focus on crime, violence, or other “newsworthy” events at the exclusion of anything they feel won’t draw as large ratings.

    I truly believe that our current focus on violence in movies, TV, and games (yes, some of which I am actually a fan of) is a very-obvious significant contributor to such events. If a person constantly sees such behaviors by others in their information and entertainment outlets – and can also easily participate in such behaviors themselves, via increasingly-realistic interactive venues – it doesn’t take a genius to understand that such individuals will be desensitized just that much more to such activities.

    And of course, to result in the same shock value they once did, producers of such content have to ramp up the level over and over again. Compare “horror” movies from the 1950s and 1960s (e.g. Psycho), where much of the graphic violence exists only in the viewer’s mind, to today’s “splatterfests”, where every last action has to be perversely focused on in slow-motion, and every drop of blood is “beautifully” rendered in the finest CGI the industry has to offer.

    Can anyone point the finger at one particular game or one particular movie which directly causes such horrible real-life events to occur? In most (not all) cases, perhaps not. But for anyone to be able to cast a blind eye to the aggregate effect that being constantly inundated with such concepts have on the human psyche, seems incredibly disingenuous at best.

    Slightly on a tangent: For all those who complain that Jack Thompson is an “idiot”, or even the “devil incarnate”, he is a person who is willing to speak out against what many folks see as a very slippery slope we, as a society, are currently sliding down. I’ve even seen death threats posted against him online – wow, talk about completely proving the man’s point…


    04/17/2007 at 6:00 pm

  3. “It’s sickening to compare what was ‘acceptable’ a mere 25 years ago and what we see, view, say and hear daily today.”
    Its interesting that my wife and I had this very conversation late last night (and neither of us had read your blog entry yet). The third or fourth story on the channel 7 news tonight devoted maybe 30 seconds to the fact that nearly 100 people were blown up the streets of Iraq today…and now on to the weather…
    Its what scares me most about having brought children into the world….I can’t even imagine what might be commonplace as they shut their eyes at night when they are my age….


    04/20/2007 at 8:43 am

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