We're coming up on the 10-year anniversary of the Columbine massacre, and once again, we've seen a spate of awful, inexplicably random shootings. Every time these Columbine-like massacres happen, we devolve into a discussion of gun control and video games -- and in my new newspaper column this week, I suggest that oversimplicity is part of the problem.
In a media environment increasingly dominated by short soundbites, hasty blog entries and twitter feeds, the gun control/video game discussion is perfect -- it's simple, easy to understand, and provides a seemingly logical fulcrum for debate. But what I think we don't realize is that random violence is a product of many deeper and more complex factors than access to weapons and Xboxes.
It's not that gun control or video games aren't important issues to be discussed -- they are (and I fully support reinstating the assault weapons ban, just as I fully support parents regulating the games their kids play). It's that the alienation that originally causes so many of these violent episodes are most likely motivated by deeper societal forces.
I delve into what some of these forces are -- and my column certainly doesn't purport to comprise all of the forces. It's point is to merely begin asking some of the questions that we aren't used to asking -- some of the questions that an increasingly inane and oversimplified media environment seems structurally unable to ask.
If we're so worried about violence, why is so much of our economy and public budget organized around institutional violence? Why, indeed, is our government this week absolving extra-legal violence? If we're so concerned about community, how come we have allowed so much of the connective tissue of community to deterioriate?
I'm sure you have your own similar questions that go far deeper than the gun control/video game conversation. And I hope you use the comments section to let us know those questions.
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