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My tour of duty as an infantry-combat veteran in North Korea ended in 1951. I then laid down my M-1 rifle and have never fired another round. I left the terrorism of war that does not differentiate between combatants, women, or children. But, living in a country that has a gun-related murder rate that is 20 times greater than the average of all other countries in the developed world, the murder of innocent children has followed me home to Connecticut. The above data is courtesy of The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A week ago, I read an ABC News/Washington Post poll indicating that 52 percent of respondents thought that the Newtown, CT, massacre of 20 precious children reflected broader problems in American society. 43 percent thought that events like this are isolated acts.

In America, we have about 270 million privately owned guns--about 9 guns for every 10 people. Yemen, the second place country, has 5 guns for every 10 people. It's not surprising that USA civilians lead the developed world in the killing of children. Our policy-makers in Washington are also good at killing children. In between the two wars on the people of Iraq, inhumane American led sanctions led to serious malnutrition, and to the deaths of more than 500,000 Iraqi children age five and under. This is according to an extensive mortality study conducted by the the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). In war and in peace, the children in our trouble world are not given a free pass. Catholic popes have often spoken out against sanctions because they harm the poorest and most vulnerable, especially the small children.

Not surprisingly, politicians and the media are now trying to spin Sandy Hook. We now have been  flooded by thousands of heroes, real and not so real, to make the massacre more palatable. The real cause of the many serious mass-murder episodes in America is being ignored in favor of easy proposals, and solutions that do not address the worst problems. Patting Americans on the back is much easier than speaking the truth.

From birth in America, children are given war toys and fed a diet of violence through their TVs. Racist and violent games reward those who kill the most is common place. When children get to graded school they can progress to more complex video games that again rewards the best killers. In high-school, military recruiters picture service in war as a glorious experience. Yet, there is nothing glorious about wars. While the many war-profiteers will prosper, those who serve on the front-line will pay the price. I see that every time I  go to the VA hospital in Newington. Importantly, the excessive glorification of violence in our media plant seeds in malleable young minds that can trigger new acts of violence. On the daily TV news, if it bleeds, it leads.

To stop the killing of our children, we must stop the glorifying of violence in our media and in our politics. Those who own TV stations possess especially strong brain-altering tools.  On a daily basis our MSM feeds us negative spin on Iran, Syria, Egypt, Venezuela, North Korea, Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, etc. A paranoid world is created that feeds our militarism, our racism, and hatred for our beautiful world. The peddling of racism works. Bigotry is widespread as can be seen on many blogs where writers can unanimously spew out genocidal tripe--this is the norm  following any news story relating to Muslims

If we are to protect all of our children, we must stop the demonizing of other races and religions. Were we not all created in "the image of God?" Our country's esteemed constitution states as evident that, "all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Are these words outdated? Are the words of our TV talking-heads and those of our politicians now more credible?

Hence, it will make too little difference in the protection of the precious life of our beautiful children, wether we have more or fewer gun related legislations. The solution is mostly dependent on: 1. stopping the glorification of violence in our media, 2. stopping the demonizing of fellow human beings, and 3. stopping our militarization--with the resultant cost-savings being used for much needed infrastructure repairs,  better schools and medical care, and a lessened tax burden future for all of our children and grandchildren.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for your service and thank you for this (8+ / 0-)

    post, a very thoughtful essay on violence and America.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:38:34 PM PST

    •  Thanks, ban nock (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, aliasalias

      I think that we can all serve our country by speaking up when we see that our politician, or the media, is taking us in a bad direction. Too many do not have the guts to take this kind of leadership. Changing the course of the most powerful economic and military power in the world is not easy.

      It takes a few voices to be willing  to take the early insults for daring to oppose a misguided but popular policy. But if the few voices proposing a new direction makes sense, many will follow and a change of course can  become the reality.

      War is costly. Peace is priceless!

      by frostbite on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:58:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I guess if you can speak up at your young age (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        frostbite

        I should be doing more.

        I try by teaching my kids to try to not feel anger towards others, I certainly don't shield them from the world but we don't watch the hurting of others for entertainment even if it's only fake.

        I remember my roomates during the first gulf war all excited to see videos and thinking of stopping that madman who'd invaded Kuwait. One guy was quiet, later alone I asked him why. He'd been a corpsman on a Hospital ship off Saigon for a year. Said there'd be lots of dead people. He was right wasn't he. He had a perspective I and my other roomates lacked.

        I should do more actively to stop wars.

        How big is your personal carbon footprint?

        by ban nock on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:28:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I pray we aren't too far gone into violence to (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frostbite, worldlotus

    regain our national sanity.  I fear it may be too late.

  •  The soothsayers and cult of logic people (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frostbite, worldlotus, ban nock, AoT, Hastur

    will say the violence in our media does nothing, but I usually throw it back in their faces that the only way we'd know is if we gave up violence as a means of entertainment wholesale as a culture and see what happens.

    "Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die," - Buddha.

    by sujigu on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:47:32 PM PST

  •  No, to stop killing children in this country (6+ / 0-)

    we need to differentiate between games and reality and that starts in our national discourse: guns are killing machines. People may have a right to own them, but I can see nothing in the Constitution that says there cannot be restrictions and regulations. GUNS, and especially guns as the extension of perceivedly embarrassingly small endowments of intellect or body, are the problem.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:54:49 PM PST

  •  As a fellow serviceman... (6+ / 0-)

    I do agree that the overall socialization towards violence is a serious problem.  I also agree that the relentless glamorization of violence in the media is a problem.

    I wish that the media that we sold our children wasn't as focused on "Killing the bad guy" as much as it was on "Solving the problem"

    One of the major problems I have with video games and films of the last few years is that there is very little moral ambiguity, and very little opportunity to circumvent the standard tactic of "KILL THE BAD GUY"

    I just wish that our media and our entertainment focused on the concept of dealing with problems rather than a body count.

    Of course, removing the deadly weapons from our society would also be another step in the right direction.

    Thank you for your service.  

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:54:54 PM PST

    •  Certainly the removal of any weaponry (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      detroitmechworks, Pluto

      that makes the killing of human beings too easy would be progress.

      What I see on DK is too much demonization of gun owners. That will only cause friction on both sides of this issue, and that will not be helpful.

      There are serious legal issues regarding the take away of guns from owners. Of course making new laws dealing with what kind of guns can be sold in the future is doable.

      In the final analysis, without a cultural change the violence in schools is likely to continue.

      War is costly. Peace is priceless!

      by frostbite on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:11:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hear you. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, frostbite, Anne was here

        However, I do not consider the need of gun owners to own weapons that facilitate this kind of slaughter to be a reasonable factor to consider.

        I've been a member of the "If you take more than 6 shots to kill something, get a different hobby" crowd.

        I do agree that a change on the glamorization of "Kill the bad guy" is absolutely necessary.

        (Here's hoping that my satirical novel on Iraq sells when it's done, so I can contribute to the sea-change.)

        I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

        by detroitmechworks on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:16:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I agree with nearly everything (4+ / 0-)

    that you have written, with the exception of

    Hence, it will make too little difference in the protection of the precious life of our beautiful children, wether we have more or fewer gun related legislations.
    I am in complete accord that we sorely need to upgrade our mental health system and ensure access to all, and that the constant exposure to violence and xenophobia is a factor to be dealt with urgently.

    But at the end of the day, there are far too many weapons in the hands of people who should not be allowed to possess any, and that is something that can be dealt with through tightened restriction through better enforcement of existing laws, closing many of the large gaps which exist, and additional legislation which focuses on keeping guns out of such people's hands.  I believe that these steps would have a major impact on the level of violence that we see today.

    I am a warrior for peace. And not a gentle man... Steve Mason, 1940-2005

    by Wayward Wind on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:12:51 PM PST

  •  There's another diary about the (4+ / 0-)

    role of violence in the media, especially videogames, and it's a giant pie fight.  Do guns play a role?  Yep.  Does the media we consume play a role?  Yep.

    At this point I just don't understand how people can think that the amount of violence in the media we consume has no effect on how we act.  It makes no sense to me.

    The revolution will not be televised. But it will be blogged, a lot. Probably more so than is necessary.

    by AoT on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:19:57 PM PST

    •  Same thing as creationism. (0+ / 0-)
      At this point I just don't understand how people can think that the amount of violence in the media we consume has no effect on how we act.
      I look at the brain scans. It's a matter of science. The brain continues to evolve while we are alive. It changes based on experiences. Gateways are opened, barriers are erected, processes are eradicated, ruts are opened, natural responses are dead-ended or misdirected -- sociopaths are created.

      I want brain scan screenings on all candidates for Federal office.



      Denial is a drug.

      by Pluto on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:38:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Every time I see the argument, "A doesn't (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pluto, frostbite, houyhnhnm

        cause X, because I do A, and I've never done X," I want to scream. It's exactly as stupid as someone saying, "High school football doesn't cause concussions, because I played high school football, and I never got a concussion."

        Yet, it is so often the immediate response from an interested party to any criticism of said party's sphere of interest.

        Being able to recognize that something you dearly love may simply be too hurtful in the aggregate, even though it has never hurt you, is one of my litmus tests for the beginnings of deep wisdom.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:10:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Another along those lines (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          houyhnhnm, frostbite

          My grandpa smoked two packs a day and lived to be 88. Therefore smoking isn't bad for you.

          A single counter-example does not negate a trend.

          Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

          by nominalize on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:03:37 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  It is THE litmus test for being a grownup (0+ / 0-)
          Being able to recognize that something you dearly love may simply be too hurtful in the aggregate, even though it has never hurt you
          Unfortunately perpetual adolescence is as much a part of American culture as violence.

          American Dream™ = Personal Fable

          Light is seen through a small hole.

          by houyhnhnm on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 09:29:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Boomers Were Probably Raised With More (3+ / 0-)

    mass violent entertainment than any American generation before them. We were the first to grow up with television and, because of the postwar boom, we had more opportunity for entertainment than kids had had before.

    Every kind of programming that might feature gunfire, from frontier to Roaring 20's to cops & robbers to world war 2 stories would often feature large gun battles on a world war scale. Kids would be very surprised when they eventually learned that the OK Corral fight killed so few. The Rifleman would mow down more with his smiling boy looking on, some weeks.

    Yet we turned around and horrified our "Greatest" generation parents with loud public resistance against fighting the war they were running. There were several types of peace movements as we were becoming young adults: nonviolent activism for civil rights, the hippies and their much larger contingent of peace/love part time wannabes, and the political anti-Vietnam War movement.

    So I don't think that violent entertainment is a sufficient cause of the nation's military violence or domestic violence.

    Boomers also grew up with superhero stories from every era and setting including fantasy, which always involved the good guys, often including government, standing up for the underdogs.

    But what we've had in more recent decades is a political movement and its extensive media, including a great deal of entertainment, allied with authoritarian religion, fomenting fear and hatred of the underdogs, and jealousy toward any help government might give them.

    I think this is much more effective than undirected violent entertainment at creating a climate which will encourage people to turn to violence in a disturbing or angry situation. Decades of being told your fellow citizens who look or think a little different are your very literal enemies.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 05:21:09 PM PST

    •  Base on our personal experiences (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rangemaster

      most of us view different pathways for the resolution of violence in our society.

      It's a bit hard to compare different decades. Certainly, in the days of the OK Corral the fighters did not have automatic weapons. In the days of WW II many families did not have TVs.

      If we look at movies created in two or three decades ago, there was much less violence. Kids see violence everywhere and within a decade or two when they become old enough to handle guns, they become violent criminals.

      Most people now get their news and opinion from a media that loves conflict and war. Newspapers are dying perhaps because they can't show the level of violence that is possible to show on TV. We live in a violent country that loves wars. TV molds our minds like nothing else has ever been able to do in history.

      War is costly. Peace is priceless!

      by frostbite on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:05:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        frostbite

        When I go to the movies and sit through the previews-- and the feature presentation that I just paid to see-- it feels to me like there's a palpable illness in which the audience is indulging.  The movie that I last saw was "The Hobbit".  When I walked out of the theater, I felt uncomfortable with it all, and uncomfortable with the choice I'd made.  After all, I'd taken my children with me.  

        What am I teaching them?  What am I allowing society to teach them?

        We can do better.  I can do better.

        "Life is forever menaced by chaos and must restore balance with every intake of breath"-- Jean Gebser

        by rangemaster on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:32:05 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  sigh. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      frostbite, nominalize

      The vast majority of Boomers never protested anything, never complained about American institutional violence, never confronted their mythologies. They weren't hippies, didn't smoke marijuana (nevermind drop acid), didn't wear their hair down to their waists, didn't reject American Imperialism (or ever even believe in the existence of an American Empire).

      And of those who did protest -- well, how much protest would there have been had there not been a draft?

      The one great victory of the Boomers was the Sexual Revolution, which ultimately was just a spectacular victory for their own very immediate and personal self-interest. It was only on this front -- the front on which two middle-class kids could shack up together and still come home for thanksgiving without apologizing to anyone -- that Boomers across all socioeconomic strata (and even most faith traditions) piled on. Indeed, it was only on this front that the Boomers won, in a fairly short stretch of time, buy-in from their parents' generation, such that their parents suddenly found themselves also willing to abandon loveless marriages and move in with lovers, without marrying. Why? Because their parents themselves craved the same liberation.

      To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

      by UntimelyRippd on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:22:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Also, you can add actual violence (0+ / 0-)

      We may watch more on-screen violence than before, though certainly not more than "two or three decades", when one-man-against-an-army action movies were thrilling and not jokes.  I mean, go back and watch the Three Stooges.  Most of the "humor" consisted of the brothers slapping each other in the face or kicking each other, over minor slip-ups.  This used to be the pinnacle of humor.  Go watch Tom & Jerry or some of the old Looney Tunes cartoons.  You do well to point out the shoot-em-up Westerns of the 50's as well.  Sure, the violence might not have been as graphic or gore-filled, but the notion of using violence to solve all your problems has been a staple of cinema since, well, the very beginning

      Moreover, we watch far less real-life violence than before.  People used to watch animals kill each other for sport-- dogfighting, cockfighting, bullfighting... hey, entertainment!  Boxing was the biggest sport in America after baseball; now it (and MMA) are low on the mainstream totem pole.  People used to make a day out of public executions.  They used to send each other postcards of lynchings.  (Wish you were here!)  Hell, they even carried out the lynchings.  Google lynching photos and look at the faces of the crowd.  Have you ever seen someone so gleeful watching a CGI explosion?  So let's cut the nostalgia machine, here.  

      Where I disagree with most people is that I hold that the media is shaped by us more than it shapes us.  We can't accuse them of warping our minds on the one hand, while criticizing them for pandering to the lowest common denominator on the other.  You can't do both.  They make these movies and shows and games because they know we'll buy them.   The problem is us.  Hell is other people.  The media might not be helping, but the root cause is in each of our minds. We can blame the media all day, if it makes us feel better, but as Chris Rock said (about other crime), when I'm looking over my shoulder at an ATM, I'm not watching out for the media!  

      Conservatives need to realize that their Silent Moral Majority is neither silent, nor moral, nor a majority.

      by nominalize on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 08:19:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  All of the examples that you note (0+ / 0-)

        are true and well known. I do not understand why, "We can't accuse them of warping our minds on the one hand, while criticizing them for pandering to the lowest common denominator on the other.  You can't do both."

        I believe otherwise. The examples of violence in life and the violence that you point out in old movies, were it seems to me, very mild in the intensity of the visual presentation as compared to current movies.

        Also, most of Americans get the vast majority of their news and opinion commentary from TV. Corporations spend billions in advertising because TV propaganda does work. It's unrealistic that the advocacy of wars and violence on TV would not negatively influence all of our actions.

        War is costly. Peace is priceless!

        by frostbite on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 10:47:41 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing unusual about male mammals (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frostbite

    killing the offspring of other male mammals.

    The only thing different about what humans do, is that the ones responsible for the killings do everything they can to

    A. Blame the offspring
    B. Blame the other male humans
    C. Conceal the magnitude of the slaughter

    That is Adam's curse -- not that he must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow, but that he is expected, unlike the silverback, to produce moral and ethical justifications for his merciless, selfish, bestial brutality. It's a heavy burden, which is why some people -- Dick Cheney, for example -- simply don't bother.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:03:59 PM PST

  •  The violence has always been there. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    frostbite

    Perhaps an argument can be made that we
    collectively have been desensitized to such,
    but the history of our species is not something
    distinct and different from our various media.

    In my opinion, the industrialization of violence
    in war, commerce, sport, entertainment, etc.,
    appears worse to us who pay close attention.
    But was the warfare and or entertainment
    of pre literate societies really less violent itself?

    Humans, as omnivores, kill for survival.
    Not always other humans, but often enough.
    We all have cuspids, even today, a marker for
    predators across many differing animal species.

    Once the shedding of blood for survival becomes
    accepted and cultured as normal, it then is easy
    to adapt the same behaviors to different stimuli.

    How else to explain our collective abilities to convince
    fellow sentient beings that it is in their best interests
    to kill or be killed for abstract concepts such as states,
    not to mention over riding the actual will for survival?

    The question then becomes, can we evolve beyond
    this blood lust that is our heritage, or is it too deeply
    a part of what makes us a successful species to ever
    be 'de selected' as an evolutionary adaptation as it is
    more important for individual than group survival?

    I believe there are many ways
    to alleviate some of the violence
    that engulfs our world. None of them easy.
    Or simple. Or perhaps even long lasting.

    Thanks for all of your efforts.

    •  "Humans, as omnivores, kill for survival." (0+ / 0-)

      That is probably quite accurate. Survival in past centuries required different behavior. In this century it would seem that human beings and technology have progressed enough to not require the need to kill for survival.

      A dominating media that profits from violence and wars is, in my opinion, a very serious problem

      War is costly. Peace is priceless!

      by frostbite on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:59:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This has always bothered me about vegans. (0+ / 0-)

        The health benefits of a near vegetarian diet are
        fairly well established by the medical evidence.

        It is the self righteousness of those who claim a
        superior morality by eating one form of life over
        another, as if plants and their offspring are any
        less alive than chickens or any other animals that
        humans have been known to kill for sport or gain.

        This is the same 'morality' that leads to objectification,
        dehumanization, and the rationalization and adoption
        of mass episodes of the most violent human behavior.

        Sure, there are the cartoon version video contests
        of hunting game, and computer simulations of all
        manner of warfare and bloodshed, which most of
        those who have experienced the real subject matter
        firsthand declare as 'nothing remotely like the original'.
        Possibly lacking the oh so visceral olfactory simulator?

        Are these really worse than bear baiting, public
        floggings and hangings, or the eco and genocides
        of manifest destiny? Are highly abstract vigilante
        justice film scenes better or worse than the actual
        audio recording of the grizzly man and his girl friend
        being devoured by the very object his own fetish?

        Why do people pursue sexual pornography over
        actual real intimacy? For some reason, we prefer the
        stylized fantasy over the real in many of our pursuits.

        I am sure there is a very small but distinct minority
        of humans who wish to experience actual bloodletting
        firsthand. Why is the global infotainment industry
        not offering slaughter house kill floor live streams?

        Perhaps in some distant future, what we consume for
        our sustenance will be radically different from the here
        and now.  It follows that we would also be radically
        changed as much as our source of food. Maybe we
        will mutate to feed on photons from the sun and
        molecules of carbon dioxide, with stray trace elements
        of minerals of the sort found in the soil. And produce as
        our seed and germ, or waste products even, comestibles
        that other species can exploit for their own survival.

        The question remains. Would we still be human?

        Thanks for all of your efforts.

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