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Thinking on Connecticut

Another shooting.  This one consisting of 6 and 7 year olds.  Everyone is rightfully horrified.  Questions that have been asked before are being asked again.  Why did it happen?  How can we stop it from happening again?  Who’s to blame?  Guns and mental illness have been the most common “causes” that I’ve run across, oftentimes being made part of a snarky Facebook comment or agenda-driven political commentary.  The actual cause, of course, is evil.  Sin.  I’ve heard only one person offer that answer and it was a preacher in a church in Newtown, Connecticut.  That I’ve only heard this explanation once is telling, I think.  A related cause, this one a little more “earthly,” is freedom.

Many of you will read that last sentence and roll your eyes.  “Owning an assault rifle isn’t about freedom,” you say.  Well you’re right.  It isn’t.  I’m both a gun-owner and a NRA member, but I agree that owning an assault rifle isn’t a Constitutional Right, and I’m guessing neither would the Supreme Court.  The freedom I’m talking about doesn’t directly pertain to the Second Amendment, however.  One’s culture is a derivative of one’s freedom.  For example, some have blamed Friday’s shootings on video games.  I own Modern Warfare II, and there’s an infamous level where your character kills hundreds of civilians at a Moscow airport, for no apparent reason.  The game was banned in some countries, including Russia, until the developer offered to basically delete the aforementioned level in those countries.  The author of the linked article had this to say regarding Russia’s decision:

This is seriously quite pathetic. I am sure Russians would have had no  problem if it was another country involved in the game’s plot, like Germany,  which has of course been the antagonist in most Call of Duty games.  Anybody who pays attention to MW2‘s plot will understand why  Russia is at war with the US, and know that the Russians aren’t being depicted  solely as bad guys.

But still, these are videogames, right? No need to actually research and  contextualize those at all, not when there are kneejerk reactions to be had.

As I stated earlier, I’ve played the game, and I’m confident the developer could have come up with a different way to get Russia to attack the U.S.  The developer put the level in for one reason, and that was to shock the audience.  In other words, it was completely unnecessary.  But the thought of censoring/banning speech in America is viciously attacked, and rightfully so.  Other games have been banned in various countries, for various reasons.  A nice summary is contained here.

The target of scorn when I was a kid was “gangsta’ rap.”  It’s too violent.  It disrespects authority.  It advocates killing cops (which is bad).  All of these things were true, by the way.  While certain words were half-heartily bleeped out on the radio, the albums themselves weren’t banned in American stores, nor should they have been.

What’s the point about all of this?  Do I blame video games?  Or violent music?  Or everything else that bombards us on a daily basis?  No.  But it all has an impact.  Culture matters and freedom costs.  Everyone has seen the bumper-sticker that says “Freedom Isn’t Free,” and understand that it is referring to those who died to defend our freedoms.  For anyone who has had to quickly change the radio station because their kid is in the car, or has to explain why the girl on the cover of the magazine at the checkout line is half-naked with “SEX” written in big letters, understands that we’re all victims of our freedoms…especially our kids.

So what’s the answer?  Should we turn all authority over to Barry, or a select group of Philosopher Kings, to determine what we should or shouldn’t have access to?  Should we have a police state, like in the old USSR?  Of course not.  But we all need to take ownership and acknowledge that our freedoms have allowed for a culture of violence and death to take root in America.  Or more specifically, we have allowed our freedoms to be used to justify our moral relativism.  And it isn’t just multimedia.  While the country rightfully mourns the twenty children that were murdered on Friday, no one takes much notice of the 3,700 kids that were aborted that day, and every day.  It’s hypocritical for anyone to attempt to blame Friday on just one thing.

You can ban assault rifles, but history indicates it won’t reduce firearm violence.  You can spend more money on mental health, but you’ll still have the people with no history of issues.  You can take some of the trillions we throw down the black hole of the public education system and use it to put an armed guard in every school, but you’ll always have the problem with some guard negligently handling his weapon and either accidentally shooting a student or allowing someone else to get his hands on it.

Freedom requires that each citizen act responsibly and be held accountable for his or her actions.  If you want to reduce the number of bad things that happen, then you have to get involved.  Guard your children from the world’s influences.  Pay attention and help your neighbors.  Simple acts like these will be far more effective in reducing events like Friday than will the government deciding to ban something.

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