Amid the noise reverberating on gun control, the pundits pontificating on the preppers and the slightly saner talking about mental illness, America is once again using the word tragedy. It has become a sadly common word from the States in recent years. It is no doubt an accurate word but it is not always a helpful one.
That these sickening crimes are committed with firearms is perfectly true. That in the harsh grief of the aftermath we all clamour for easy answers: less guns, more guns, is also true. But tears can also make people blind.
We know that mass shootings are a modern phenomena. Before the 1970s they were virtually unheard of; since then they have become increasingly common. The phrase ‘’going postal’’, used to describe a disgruntled employee murdering colleagues, is a well-known slang term not just in the USA but around the world. Some might argue that technological advancements in weaponry has made this crime easier . . . . but an old gun can kill just as well as a new one. Others have claimed that the sheer number of guns has increased the lethality. It is certainly true that more firepower is more capable of killing, but one can only carry so many guns at a time, the lone killer especially so.
Perhaps we may better understand this appalling phenomenon not by examining the method, but by examining the motive.
If a small child were to sulk or become angry if they did not get their way we might not be surprised. When a young man does exactly that we become so fixated with the horrific outcome that we overlook the massive immaturity of their actions. To call it so seems almost banal in the face of the carnage. And yet these actions are immature, like a spoilt child. There is no self-control, no sense of responsibility to anyone but themselves. It is entirely selfish, but it is no accident and it should not be a surprise.
Increasingly as a society we have lost control of our children to corporations and marketing propaganda. It is strong and powerful stuff, fed by the latest and most potent technologies available.
TV is an old technology now but still an important weapon against us. It is known to induce suggestible states simply from its operation. Combine that with the deliberate manipulation of advertising, then throw in to the equation that 80% of the population are moderately to highly susceptible to hypnosis (and almost 100% of children are) and it is clear why the rise of TV has tracked the rise of infantilism and the sometimes dreadful outcomes it delivers. That is not to say that TV causes this in and of itself; the messages and influence are placed by people, the TV is only the method.
Pester power is thought of as an annoyance and not for what it really is, a tiny corporate takeover of the child’s thinking, wiping out individual thought and brooking no alternative to its mendacious message. When a marketing man or a product tag line has more influence on a child’s thinking than their family can hope to achieve . . . something is very, very wrong.
Anyone with even a slight acquaintance to advertising, especially in the entertainment industry, is well aware that the target audience is that which is most easily parted from its money. Children. If we look around we can see that a veneration of youth exists today, but it is not fed by any practical or rational purpose; it exists to extract money. The more infantile we are, and the longer we stay that way, the more money and power flows to the pockets of the propagandists.
Of course not all of our youth are irresponsible or infantile; many are hard working, diligent and more than capable of thinking for themselves. What is insidious is that those young people are anathema to our system, evidence that whilst the system is powerful it is not foolproof. And so they seek new and more subtle ways to influence the ones that they have not caught or those who, worse, have escaped. If they can’t hope to influence them, then they will ridicule them and ostracise them. If that doesn’t work . . . well, the corporations own the prison system as well these days.
Now, imagine a young boy, perhaps without many, or any, role models, certainly easily influenced, fed a diet of this propaganda. He can be anything; the world is a fair place where he deserves value and respect just for being him, he has rights. But outside of that propaganda the world is very different. He withdraws. He can’t have all he wants, he can’t be what he wants to be. Why not? The message says he can, says he should, it says he deserves it dammit, over and over again. All day, all night, wherever he looks. The world is lying to him, all those people who block him are lying. The cognitive dissonance of believing one thing but having to live another is too much. He snaps.
Mostly, at that point, they kill themselves,; they become a statistic that we are usually unaware of. More sadly, sometimes they choose to kill others, too, and those we do hear about. But it will not be guns, knives or even bombs that caused the horror. It will be our willing abandonment of the next generation to the monsters of capital. Our easy acceptance that our children should be targets for the corporate marksman, offered sacrifices to their altar of lies and that, somehow, it will do them no harm. It will, it harms them deeply, and then they will harm others.
We need to grow up and make sure that our children do too. Can the TV, ban the brand. And if you meet an advertising executive or marketing manager, offer them Bill Hicks advice;
‘’By the way, if anyone here is in marketing or advertising...kill yourself. Thank you. Just planting seeds, planting seeds is all I'm doing. No joke here, really. Seriously, kill yourself, you have no rationalisation for what you do, you are Satan's little helpers. Kill yourself, kill yourself, kill yourself now. Now, back to the show. Seriously, I know the marketing people: 'There's gonna be a joke comin' up.' There's no fuckin' joke. Suck a tail pipe, hang yourself...borrow a pistol from an NRA buddy, do something...rid the world of your evil fuckin' presence.’’
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