On the ninth of this month Ferguson, Missouri police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown during a traffic stop. The subsequent days have seen massive protests in both the city and across the nation, matched only in their intensity by the crackdown of the local police.
Now while the police have just now cited that the deceased Michael Brown was the suspect in a local convenience store robbery (nothing has yet been proven), the cops have nevertheless come under widespread criticism. By all accounts, 18-year-old Michael Brown, who has no record of bad behavior- criminal or otherwise, surrendered to Wilson after a brief struggle. Despite his raised hands and his shouts that he was unarmed, Wilson opened fire anyway, shooting the teenager no less than six times.
We could talk about the struggle that allegedly occurred, the protocol in place for such events, and a host of other factors, but ultimately the fact that Wilson shot and killed an unarmed teen remains undisputed.
But we’re not here to talk about that.
We’re here to talk about the days that have since passed.
““Do we want to be good, or do we just want to look good?”
GORDON: I’m not entirely sure I can come up with any swift dismissal of this possibility, I mean- look at the world we live in. Do we believe in being environmentally and socially conscious? Absolutely. But to what extent? I mean, we’ll chuck our soda cans in the recycling, but are we gonna picket Monsanto?
Are we really just observing these “little” things because they’re expected of us? Do we actually care one way or another?
EVAN: As far as recycling goes, we do that in Canada because it’s the law. Looking good only has so much to do with it.
If we want to go with the example of, say, giving a few dollars towards an environmental organization [or maybe because the fundraiser was cute], that works a little more maybe. It at least contrasts with picketing/protesting. I think we care, but maybe not enough? That’s if we’re quantifying “care” now by the actions that it results in.
GORDON: Is it, perhaps, that we’re cynical? Do we as a generation ultimately despair of the effectiveness of any method of change? Is the reason we’re unable to really go the distance when it comes to our causes because we think it’s all just in vain?
EVAN: Do we think it’s all futile? I mean, we’re certainly led to believe that to some extent. To focus on environmentalism, the extent of the destruction to this earth is growing ever closer to irreversible, and we’re made aware of this.
As far as documentaries and the like go, however, we are told over and over that what we do does indeed matter. Being conscious about how we spend our money and that sort of thing.
GORDON: That’s what we’re told, but then again, the creators of such documentaries are overwhelmingly members of older generations.
Look at the Occupy Movement, for example.
People were there from all demographics, but more than anyone else it was the youth- our generation. Despite massive popularity, that venture ultimately met its death under the boot heels of riot cops and a fog of pepper spray.
It’s been about a year since it all started, and the situation is the same, yet there’s really no push for any resurrection of the movement or even for any major protest at all. Have we given up? We’re all the same people- we have all the same drives and values- have we simply despaired of peaceful protest?
That aside, maybe you can explain what exactly happened as the movement petered out. It’s somewhat well-known that the weather was a large contributor to those occupying various streets and cities, but what else led to its collapse. Was it simply fatigue?
GORDON: I’d blame massive crackdowns on the part of the mayors of the occupied cities- let’s not forget that mayor Jean Quan pretty much turned Oakland into a warzone. Injured a protesting war vet so badly most folks thought he was going to become the first casualty of the movement (he pulled through, fortunately).
EVAN: This sort of all falls back to a point I made in relation to apathy our first attempt at this topic. That people care, but simply don’t feel like stepping outside their comfort zones. I realize that this may seem like a ludicrous thing to say in the face of the Occupy Movement, but I feel that the vast majority of youth, our generation, don’t want to do what it takes.
They, we, value comfort too much.
GORDON: I’m gonna have to second that theory.
I remember back when I was in college, going door-to-door trying to get students to boycott various unethical companies [Coca-Cola, Nike] doing business on campus. I was amazed at how many people would nod their heads and smile and agree with each and every word out of my mouth until I called on ’em to stop buying those companies’ products.
Guts. We got none. Difficulty with the concept of actual sacrifice, you know?
EVAN: And the refreshing taste of Coca-Cola is the very basest of comforts. If we can’t part with a caffeinated beverage we’re into, then what can we do?
I’ve joined in your personal boycott of the company, and although it can be a little difficult, it’s certainly nothing compared to being beaten by batons as I march on Parliament.
GORDON: Is that it then? Are our values just skewed ever so slightly in favor of immediate gratification? Do we prefer keeping our skulls in once piece over bread and freedom?
EVAN: History would say: yes. At least until things reach a certain point. Until we realize that being comfortable doesn’t outweigh what we put up with to get that comfort.
GORDON: So what’s the word for this?
EVAN: To put it simply would be “laziness,” and we both know it’s more than that.
GORDON: “Over-Attachment,” perhaps?
GORDON: “Hesitation”? “Looking back towards Sodom”?
EVAN: Looking back towards Sodom assumes that they’re actually doing something.
GORDON: It’s a fear- a very specific kind of fear. The kind where you “choke” just before doing something major.
EVAN: I’m going to say there’s probably something in French or German for that, but since we’re writing this in English we’re pretty limited in our options.
GORDON: Can we make one up?
EVAN: Heh. I don’t see why not.
How about . . . “Statusquophilia.”
EVAN: Haha, I like how we went different directions with our Greek roots.
GORDON: As do I. Shall we have the readers vote?
EVAN: Sounds good to me, and we should be wrapping things up anyway. Want to summarize how we got here?
GORDON: Ultimately, o readers, it all comes down to this. The great and terrible flaw of our generation- from what we’ve discussed- is not a sin of commission. We are not entitled, we are not lazy, we are not without our values. Our fault is in what we lack the guts to be good, the balls to be bad. In short, the unwillingness to part with what we have for the chance to attain something more. We’re trapped in a dance with the devil we know.
EVAN: Vote for the terminology you like more. “Statusquophilia,” meaning a love for things as they are, or “Fluxophobia,” meaning, in this case, a fear of sacrifice.
GORDON: For next week’s topic, we’ve got: Zombies- Are We Beating a Dead Horse At This Point?
EVAN: Or what is going on with all the wars on television? I’m referring to programs like “Storage Wars” and the like. Real wars are happening, I realize this.
GORDON: And with that, people of the interwebs, we are out of time- make sure to vote for your preferred word as well as the topic for next week, and be sure to check out our new “Fame/Shame Day” feature!
In the wake of the Aurora Shooting, the Sikh Temple Massacre, and a recent spate of gun violence across the country, the debate of the violence in media has once again reared its head. On one side, those who cite the saturation of film, music, and video games with violence and the glorification of violence as responsible for creating these monsters, or at the very least, pushing them over the edge. On the other side, the ranks of apologists, who declare that it’s ridiculous to blame movies and music for mass-murder. I’m not here to analyze the claims of either point, or to make an argument for one side or the other- that’s already been done better by The Escapist’s Robert Chipman (check it out here).
No, I’m here to address the subject of violence and its possible contributing factors outside of film and music.
And therein really lies the crux of the issue- when tragedies like this happen, the scope of our outrage is usually so small that we fail to take into account all the other possible factors. We can cite GTA or rock or rap or cartoons as being responsible and maybe- just maybe- there’s something to that. But what about everything else? If violence in media causes violence, surely violence itself should be cited here!
You remember this?
That’s Marine Corps veteran Scott Olsen, moments after he was shot in the head with a gas canister from close range. Part of the brutal crackdown by police on the Occupy Oakland protests last year- back when Mayor Jean Quan decided the best way to deal with a peaceful protest was by turning her town into a war zone.
But why talk about Oakland and countless other cities being turned into war zones when we can just talk about actual war?
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this is the single longest war in American history. Year after year after year, it goes on, and with no end in sight. That’s got to be the single largest and publicized campaign advocating violence, yet where is the outrage against it?
And what about hunting? That’s all about guns and the glorification of killing things…
What about Civil War Reenactors?
What about the national anthem? That thing is full of references to bombs. What about the 4th of July? A day when we celebrate our victory in a war by setting off explosives!
What about the very way we talk about violence? Should the Mob Museum here in Las Vegas be shut down? Should we do away with anything related to pirates? Should we stop teaching about the war of 1812 in schools?
And so on…
You get the idea. Ours is a culture and history built on violence. It’s in everything– not just our media. While I’ve got my own views on what does and doesn’t cause or promote violence, my purpose here isn’t to take a side. I’m simply trying to demonstrate that if you do want to try to get into the causes of violence, you don’t get to be selective about who you put on trial.You want to find out if there was something in our world beyond the killer’s diseased mind responsible for death and destruction, you have to look at everything- anything less is just a witch hunt, pure and simple.
Let’s face it, half the time, tragedies like these are the platform from which we get to lynch things we didn’t like to begin with…
…I wonder if that kind of vicious and petty mentality might contribute to violence at all…