Back when I use to debate on facebook, to the extent where I gave up hitting my head against a brick wall, I got into an argument concerning The ‘Batman’ shootings, by James Holmes, in Denver. The main basis of this argument is a person had posted a joke about it and, as a result this sparked various heated debates. Many of the people arguing against the status update argued that due to the 10 people dead, including a child and many wounded, we should feel no empathy for the person in question, mainly because of the act which was committed. Eventually the argument accustomed to between myself, and everyone else, and it was weird to see that, out of this argument, no one was willing to accept a wider context, or take it into account, when analysing the shootings. Of course, this hasn’t been the first shootings that have happened in America. There have been countless accounts of disenfranchised, or socially inept, students gunning down other students in high schools, or of students committing suicide for bullying, persecution of beliefs, sexual orientation etc or people who have generally had psychological conditions. However, what strikes me the most is the way the killings are dealt with and it seems immediately a person or organisation, whether the media, the parents or witnesses, will give an accusation towards the opposite party; without so much as a realisation at what is occurring in the process: out of ignorance or experience of the moment. Of course, it is hard to hold any thought process whatsoever when you have been a gun victim of the person, or you are the parent, or you are an outraged republican at the moral fabric of the example. However this does not mean we cannot put aside our individual perceptions and analyse the state of affairs which exists at the time, something I will be analysing in this blog.
Now what does the killings reflect in the Batman shootings? That there was a university student who, armed with the proper equipment and weapons, had entered a cinema, and, using gas canisters, disorientated an audience before opening fire on them (though some of this is questioned, based on the witnesses testimonies or conditions, though I will not into detail about this, neither will I be a conspirator). What this shows is not only did the person know what he was doing but obviously the person had a constant amount of time and preparation in order to ready himself, to commit the operation. It seems absurd to think how a university student can be skilled in firing a weapon with military efficiency; however the point is that if this was prepared, it would have covered a process which would have taken a very long period of time. James Holmes, in court, confirmed responsibility for the acts he did. But if it is true he did so, many of the skills, equipment and planning would have indeed needed much time. We are talking about weapon training and maintaining; the making of very high level military grade explosives, an expert skill in marksmanship, skills in laying traps in a domestic environments and finally the skill of concealing a weapon in a public area. Though these sound relatively easy, based on testimonies of people from the army that I know, they aren’t. These require constant profession training and refining of skill. So what does this tell you? It tells you that this case, and similar cases, has consisted of a long term context, something which is expressed by long term factors. In many of these cases, people don’t just decide to shoot a school or a cinema, it occurs within a certain period of time to which the person has gained a certain understanding of the world around him; relative to his state of affairs. This signifies a long psychological process in which the person has developed which can be social, domestic or internal: in other words the causes for such can be what have been mentioned.
A huge testimony to this can be seen by the role of the media and the so called ‘media or social crises’ which takes place, whereby an event recorded by the media is disproportionally exaggerated and results in both generalising and an agenda which is set forth by the public, and the police. Most of the time this is both un-necessary and does more harm than good. Why does it matter? because not only does it contribute to people developing certain perceptions of the acts taking place, but it begins to deal with short term solutions rather than long term problems which, if solved, would result in less short term problems, such as the shootings. It also matters because it illustrates the role of the media in greater detail. In the media, especially within the news, constant testimony has been given by psychiatrists, such as Dr Park Dietz, that reporting the crime, within the mass media, merely reduces the crime to something of a drama and results in the mass murder, or suicide victim being publicised; something which should be stride to be prevented. The reason is because it propagates more mass murders and suicides by advertising them: displaying sirens; showing the picture of the person or victim; constantly making it 24/7 news coverage; making the body count the lead story; making the person an ‘anti-hero’ and mass advertising the act rather than making it relative to the location, and community, where it has taken place; as well as portraying it as exciting. These various aspects are very important. Most killings and suicides conducted, in most cases, are an indicator of attention as they signal either a cry for attention or help which, in this context, is performed dramatically through external means e.g. so every can see it being done. This not only provides the stimulus and motivation for other people, in similar cases, to commit similar acts but also means that if these events are massly advertised, they provide a means of creating an outlook that will be witnessed by various people.
As can be seen, this is a much larger part of a greater social context. Now to just point the finger and blame someone or something is foolhardy: as I’ve said before it only results in un-productive results. Nevertheless there’s nothing wrong with analysing the situation and then forming an opinion about how the situation is dealt with, or who is entirely responsible. My opinion would be this: that the results of this is the product of both a long history of how society has organised and structured itself (industrial and post industrial, mainly within the Western hemisphere of the world e.g. The united states, Britain, France, Germany, Japan etc) and the way that has resulted in an entirely different conception in the way things are dealt with, or excluded. A very good example that comes to mind is the Batman shootings. The thing which comes to mind is the fact it was, possibly, an advertisement of the person and that the person had various psychological and long term problems: as most suicide victims or high school actors of shootings have demonstrated. Okay, let me simplify my point: these acts are the result in which society has been shaped and formed which results in certain patterns, or generalisations, of consequences.
A very good example can be the start of industrialisation. Economics dictates that within the industrial period, the cohesion of the countryside and the increase in urbanisation meant more people from rural environments migrated to cities. This signals a complete change in lifestyle, patterns, moral and social boundaries etc. It also signals the means in which the person expresses themselves or the locations where the person can express themselves. For example, increasing urbanisation results in a greater population, closer and more cramped living conditions, a lack of relation to the people around you etc, which can further lead to depression, anxiety a sense of laziness or worthlessness etc. As a result, society has needed to develop institutions to deal with these problems: stretching from taverns and pubs, to counselling and group therapy sessions. As is observed, these do not take a solid shape or form but merely illustrate that people start to act in a certain way, and society counters these with places and institutions to deal with these problems (if they are problems). However, though these various things have sprung up, they depend of many factors e.g. trust, finance, content etc. As a result, though some institutions may help, if they don’t get enough finance, or aren’t seen as to be taken for granted by the population, they decrease in their overall awareness. This provides a perfect commentary on the Denver shootings. Questions which can be asked are why weren’t measure taken to prevent events like these from happening? Why was it that the person came to the situation where they perceived the shootings to be appropriate? Why weren’t the problems addressed in an earlier stage to prevent acts like this from happening? With questions like these, all I can really emphasise is social welfare which implies either: there is a lack of care and consideration for the people, or for people in general, which leads to acts like these, or there is a lack of funding to support the people who do. In my opinion, I think it’s a bit of both, depending on how you analyse. However, with the economic and social state of America, coinciding with gender and ethnic constructions; narrow traditions and simple minded views of human welfare, and a lack of funding and empathy for social welfare; it’s no wonder events like these happen as a means of displaying a reality or condition.
My main point is that if you were to provide a solution to problems like this, you have to analyse the wider context of why events like these happen. It also means that a solution isn’t simple. My solution would be a better financing, and funding, of social welfare as well as a re-conceptualisation of events such as these, as well as the education of this from a younger age. This would result in the changing of perception, which would result in the changing of certain lifestyle and thus it would prevent more of these events occurring. However, that’s just my opinion.