In my previous post on this subject, I wrote of how politicians everywhere from the White House on down will now react to this latest shooting tragedy with a predictable, unanimous response: More debate on gun control, with the equally ever-predictable partisan response: Democrats calling for more strict gun control; Republicans opposing. On and on the drivel goes, without end. Surf through every cable news channel you wish, listen to any talk radio shows, read any print media you choose. The chatter will be the same: How did the suspect in this most recent example of the devolution of American society, James Holmes, get the weapons and ammunition he used in his murderous rampage? How was he able to obtain these over the internet? How do we enact laws that can block the sale of weapons over the internet? Are stricter state laws needed? Or more federal oversight? More talk about gun control.
As a Boston firearms lawyer, I know that it’s important to address these questions. Yet all of them will likely obscure the most important question that needs to be asked and addressed, which is: Why is this violence of this type increasing in this country?” What is it about our culture that fosters and breeds this type of behavior?”
The answer, in my professional view: The shocking increase in violence in the media in the United States – All kinds of media: Motion picture films, television programming, violent video games marketed to youth, and even the music industry. The media is probably the only industry in America that has as its primary goal (aside from profit) the ability to publish and broadcast almost anything it wants, without restriction. Government – principally through the FCC- has always tried to impose the most reasonable of standards when it came to broadcast television and radio – but from Day One, the media industry has never liked it, and has never stopped pushing the envelope in terms of the violence that it sells. I encourage readers of this post to take a look at some of my previous blog postings on the subject of violent video games before proceeding further with today’s post. Those observations provide a key basis in the argument in this and my immediately preceding post.
Prior to the shooting incident in Texas 1966 noted in my previous post on this subject, mass shooting events like this were largely unseen in America – until 1984, when the first mass shooting in a McDonald’s occurred. What happened in America in those nearly 20 years? An ever-escalating rise of violence in the media, beginning in the mid-80’s. As an industry, the media never ceases to tear down any and all government ability to censor what they produce. They challenge it left and right, throwing millions of dollars in lobbying and legal fees in the never-ending quest to achieve a country where they can broadcast, print, and publish the most violent and sickening of violence. All this, of course, is “justified” and argued under the highbrow argument of the First Amendment and “free speech.” And the courts in this country? One by one, all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court, they almost serially defeat state legislative attempts to restore sanity and decency to the American public discourse. Just last fall, by a majority, the Supreme Court voted in favor of the Video Game industry in ruling “illegal” and “impermissible” the State of California’s most modest and reasonable of laws to prevent the sale or rental of sickeningly violent video games to teenagers in that state. The case is Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association, 564 U.S. ___ (2011.)
The justices who voted to disallow that law – especially justices Kagan, Roberts, and Scalia – ought to hang their heads in shame. Aside from reading the legal briefs in the case and hearing oral arguments, I wonder if any one of them who voted in favor of the video game industry, watched just one of these sickening videos. Only Justices Clarence Thomas an Stephen Breyer had the foresight and wisdom to oppose the majority. In case you’re interested: Most of the sickening video games at issue in that case reward the “player” for killing either police officers, innocent victims, and women – with premium points offered for killing someone in the most sickening ways imaginable: Slicing someone’s head off, burning them alive, torturing a victim to death. On the subject of superheroes in America, (given suspect James Holmes’ apparent obsession with the Batman character) consider this: Not too long ago, the most severe form of violence that comic book publishers (originators of superhero characters,) depicted were fist fights. Today, it is not uncommon to see characters like Superman and Batman be tortured and to torture their opponents. Readers of a certain age will remember the collective shock and revulsion that the country felt when seeing John Kennedy murdered on the famous Zapruder film. As recently as ten years ago, no reasonable person could ever have conceived that such an historic image of tragedy would ever be marketed one day in the future as “Entertainment.” Today, the American President’s murder is a violent video game, with players being “rewarded” for killing the President as fast, and in as bloody a manner, as possible.
This, along with police officers and innocent victims’ throats being slashed and women being raped and people burned alive for “thrills,” is the type of “free speech” that courts in this country think needs to be “protected.” In many federal judge’s opinions, this is “healthy” for a society.
People should not wonder why violence of the type in Aurora, Colorado is escalating around us. When a society like ours continues to permit the most violent behavior and imagery to be pumped into our homes through media of all kind – film, television, video games of films, imagery, the violence we see in the Aurora, Colorado shootings should come as no surprise.
To quote Shakespeare, “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” I would amend that only to clarify that the word “ourselves” in that phrase, today means “our courts.”
Open your eyes, America. The increasingly liberal and permissive federal judicial views in this country, threaten its very social fabric.