Tuesday, April 17, 2007

See How We Are

Whenever someone snaps and starts shooting people until he's either cut down by cops or slain by his own hand, the American media goes into hyper-moral mode, and the same sorry questions are dragged out once again.

"How could something like this happen?"

"What's this country coming to?"

"What have we become?"

And rarely are there any serious, or even obvious, answers. Flipping through talk radio on Monday, I heard so much incredulity about the mass murder at Virginia Tech that it made me want to ram my car into the nearest radio tower, if only to break one link in the chain of bullshit.

One host, a local sports figure of limited intelligence, raved on about "insaneism," a word I'd never heard until he spat it out, but that apparently described what had happened down in Virginia. In brutal moments like that, one is allowed to coin new words, I suppose. But he wasn't as bad as some of the listeners who phoned in to pop off, blaming abortion, lack of prayer in schools, pornography, too much tolerance for sexual deviation, lack of gun control, too much gun control, M-rated video games, tattoos on basketball players, no respect for authority, etc. etc. From the madness of killing 33 strangers to the groping desperation of the public, it was a day that reminded you how clueless and on edge many Americans are, and made you hope that the lunacy doesn't come blasting away at your kid's school.

The VaTech massacre will throw another layer of delusion over the American scene as politicos and media commentators attempt to reassure the public about how decent we all remain, despite the "insaneism" of a few twisted types. And the public will, by and large, buy into this, for the alternative is an honest assessment of our national manias and high tolerance for the mass murder and starvation we help to inflict on areas of the world that most people know nothing about. Then there's Iraq and Afghanistan, the "bad" and "good" wars where violent death is a daily occurrence, hard to keep out of the public mind, but Lord knows we Americans do what we can to ignore it. Honest assessments of Who We Are and Why This Happens are not part of the program, and are officially discouraged in favor of pantomime grief and empty questions. We've seen it before, and we're seeing it again. Comes with the blood splattered turf.

I'm deliberately avoiding as much media as I can today, for I know that the ratings vultures are feeding on the corpses as I type, and besides, I still have to deal with this new site and all that jazz. Priorities, people. Keep matters in perspective.