Daily Show – Reaction to Arizona Shootings

Posted: January 11, 2011 in Current Events, Media Gleanings, Personal Whining

Which can be found here, because it can’t be embedded in Canada:


This is a very intelligent and noteworthy comment, but I’d like to highlight three points.

1.  At one point Stewart says that “It would be nice, …really nice…, if we could draw a straight line between the political climate and the events in Tuscon.  But we can’t.”  I agree, but nobody is trying to draw a straight line.  It is enough that we can draw a curved line or a curly line.  …This relates to the second point.

2.  Stewart also commented that blaming the shooting on violent political rhetoric was like blaming the Columbine shootings on Heavy Metal music.  That I disagree with for two strong reasons (neither of which have anything to do with my opinion of Heavy Metal music).  The first reason is that I think the cause at Columbine is misplaced.  Instead of blaming music, it should be blamed on the cultural context in which the shooters found themselves.  Put yourself in their shoes (as hard and distasteful as that may be).  What factors motivated them?  How about a caustic element in the student body that bullied them, driving them to a state of desperation (much like other bullied teens are driven to suicide).  How about a climate where people are depicted as solving their problems with guns.  How about a society that promotes access to guns.  There is no straight line, but there is a very real context in which the final factor can fester.  And that final factor is, of course, that these boys had a mental instability that would classify them as mentally ill.  That these boys in Columbine and that the shooter in Tuscon were mentally ill is a no brainer.  They definitely were.  However (and this is my second reason), it was the climate and context of their lives that fed and possibly shaped that illness.  Not all mentally ill people solve their problems with weapons and murder; to think that would be a real disservice to mental illness.  That they may be more susceptible to a cultural climate or pervasive rhetoric makes them the canary in the coalmine.  When the canary dies, it would be foolish to dismiss it, ignoring the evidence of there being something toxic in the air.

3.  At another point Stewart makes a genius comment that makes me wonder whether he doesn’t share my opinion to one degree or another.  “It would be really nice if the ramblings of crazy people didn’t resemble the way we talk to each other on T.V.”  Nicely said!


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