In the wake of the Aurora tragedy, the media is coming out of the woodwork with some off the wall commentating. This terrible event has unfortunately become the fodder for those who would want to point fingers and blame others for the act of a deranged man. I first heard the blame game being played as early as Saturday night when CBS ran a story about the similarities between The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, The Dark Knight Rises, and the events in Aurora. I also read an article blaming the violence in film and video games as the cause of all of our woes.
When are the actions of one person the result of another person's actions? Why is it that when people do bad things, we immediately start blaming everyone around the person who actually committed the crime? As I tell my students, life is full of choices. When are we going to stop blaming everyone else other than the people who commit violent crime?
The argument is that our society has too much violence, that it is the film industry and the video game industry who are to blame for the actions of these rogue nut-jobs. Have they read classical literature? Let us turn to Shakespeare and Titus Andronicus, where we have several beheadings, a rape, dismemberment, and finally cannibalism. It was extremely popular in its day, only falling into disfavor with the public during the Victorian era when Queen Victoria deemed it too violent to be performed. How about Beowulf? It is a virtual rogues gallery of violent acts and horrible nightmares. What about Justine by the Marquee De Sade? I haven't read it, and never will, but all you have to do is say the author's name to raise eyebrows. The problem with the "our media is too violent" argument is that we have had violent media for centuries, but it has only recently been the blame for the actions of deranged people.
I am not advocating violence at all, but think that violence in the media is not entirely to blame for the actions of a few deranged people. Questions that should be raised are questions about the murderer's childhood, how all of the people around him missed that he was a deranged madman, and that we don't really try to get to know people at all who then become alienated, who then become deranged, who then walk into a movie theater and begin national gun control debates.
The arguments should not be about gun control, violence in the media, or whether or not we should have metal detectors at movie theaters. The argument should be that we may have become such a selfish society that we do not invest our lives in people who are lonely, or different, or "social outcasts". I am not excusing this murderer's actions, but could this have all been prevented if somewhere way back in the formative years of this young man's life, someone would have taken interest.
Look around you. Someone you ridicule when their back is turned may turn out to be just like the murderer in the movie theater. Take the time to get to know those around you, those people who may secretly idolize you. Stop blaming the writers, the constitution and the producers of film and start living by the golden rule. Maybe things will really change.