George Michael: There's more to Aurora debate than guns

August 04, 2012|By GEORGE MICHAEL

Talking heads have been waxing eloquent, or trying to sound so, about the nature and cause of violence in our society following the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado two weeks ago.

The debate fell along predictable lines. On the one hand, liberals called for more gun controls. Mayor Bloomberg of New York stuck his foot in his mouth by saying on “Piers Morgan Tonight” that the police should go on strike unless we get more gun control, suggesting that police need more protection. I am very grateful for our police, but aren’t they there for our protection? Thankfully, the quick response by police in Aurora saved more lives.

On the other hand, NRA types deflected blame from gun owners with their standard, pat answers but were once again, put on the defensive.

The president spoke out saying that gun ownership was an American right but that people had no right to have assault weapons. It sounded like he was trying to play both sides by saying nothing useful, fairly typical of his style of “leadership.”

These debates are much too narrow. Why is the focus only on guns? Guns are only a small slice of our societal pie.

Think about when and where this occurred, at least this latest incident. It was at a Batman showing with some idiot in the crowd wanting to play the “Joker.” What responsibility if any does Hollywood have for violence in our society?

Popular movie genres today include killing and mayhem. In the past, Hollywood executives have said that their hard core action movies have no direct impact on viewers’ psyches. But then they run ads for popcorn and soda. Do they think their ads have no impact? Why do they show the ads? The ad lasts a minute. The movie is two hours. And we are supposed to believe that these movies have no impact in our minds about life and morality?

Then there are the violent video games and hateful lyrics in rap songs. Do these have any impact on the mindset of impressionable viewers and listeners?

Obviously millions who see these movies or play video games do not commit horrific crimes. But for a few at least, the line between fantasy and reality gets blurred. How much of the rest of our murders and mayhem, more “ordinary” crimes without big headlines, are the result? What is the mindset of the roving gangs of youths, who in some cities recently have gone on rampages of assaults in broad daylight? Many of these incidents don’t make the national news.

The core of the debate should be focused on whether or not anyone today has any moral and ethical accountability to anyone but themselves. What has the last generation been taught in our schools?

Mostly they have been taught that God and the Bible are irrelevant to discussions of history, government and psychology. The idea of God is belittled with suggestions that one’s religious views are only private and personal and should have no bearing on social issues.

If we should learn anything in these acts of violence, it is this: When we tell young people that there are no moral absolutes and no transcendent values, what can we expect? Do we not see that our society is increasingly adrift in a sea of moral and spiritual chaos?

In a world of neutral values, who can even say that what accused shooter, James Holmes did, is wrong? Do we have any standard which affirms that wanton murder is a moral and social evil and needs to be punished? What is the basis for holding to a standard of conduct in such matters?

Is education the key to social and moral progress? James Holmes was receiving the best education possible. Education without any moral foundations will result in simply producing clever criminals if we believe the lie about moral neutrality. This will be manifest from top to bottom, from Wall Street to Main Street.

In the future, we likely will have more news stories similar to this latest shooting. With a large portion or our society composed of idiots with muddled thinking about no rules and no absolutes, expect more and more social chaos in the days ahead. Keep in mind that the heart of the problem is the heart, not guns.

George Michael is a Williamsport resident who writes columns for The Herald-Mail.

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