Make a Real Difference Part 2

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Make a Real Difference Part 2

Postby MaduroBU » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:00 pm

I wrote another post on a different subject, and I will likely write more, but today I wish to focus upon the mass media fixation with violence. Let me begin with a few easy to read links. Note that NONE of these are from organizations that are friendly toward the RKBA.

There are two important take away points. First, that for most people, the measurable effects of seeing violence are too small to tell apart from random variation in the numbers. Second, the amount of violence displayed in mass media, both interactive (i.e. video games) and passive (i.e. movies and TV) is steadily increasing.

The simple conclusion is that the studies prove that there is nothing to worry about and that we should focus our efforts elsewhere. That simple conclusion, like so many of the arguments for gun control, falls on its face when examined more deeply. The phenomenon called "Simpson's Paradox" ( refers to the inappropriate combination of two different groups in such a way that important details about one or both are missed or obscured. The Wikipedia page illustrations show several permutations, but the one that we are interested in here is the combination of huge swaths of normal people, who are essentially immune to the effects of seeing or interacting with fictitious violence ("It's just a game/movie/show."), and small groups of people who are not normal.

Nikolas Cruz, like so many of his ignoble counterparts in the wanton slaughter of innocents, was an ASD diagnosed loner whose social limitations made him a target for what was likely brutal treatment at the hands of his peers and whose ability to cope was severely injured by the virtual lack of a supportive family. But there was another element to this: the systematic innoculation with violence as a universal tool and a practical, available, and real method for solving problems. If Ted the All-State QB or Toby the oddball debater and science whiz unwind by playing Halo and blasting their compatriots on XBox Live, we have fairly strong evidence that it's not training them to commit acts of actual violence. But for a young person whose ability to distinguish fantasy from reality is abnormal and whose family support system is a hodgepodge of tragedy and absent critical influences, that fantasy is NOT fantasy. There are two completely distinct groups at play, and if we care at all about mass shootings, then we have to care about the tiny minority of kids who are prone to this type of random violence.

There are a lot of reasons why people get shot. Mass shootings are a miniscule one. But their random nature makes them psychologically important to people in a way that murders "in the bad part of town" and suicide, which rightly seems like a remote concern to nearly all of us, are not. I'm about as pro-2A as they come, but I don't want to be shot at random. Given the amount of debate on this site and from other active shooters (people who enjoy shooting on a regular basis), it appears that all of us feel that way as well. The foreign nature and sense of vulnerability makes these events frightening in a way that far exceeds their statistical risk. It's the same reason that people don't give a second thought to the terribly dangerous drive to the beach, but once in the water, are nervous about sharks (

Firearms with sufficient killing power to rapidly produce multiple fatalities have been around for decades.

That's the dreaded AR-15. The Ruger Mini-14 and Mini-30 have been for sale since 1973. The M1A1 has been distributed to civilians for a continuous period that predates both of those weapons; it does not take long to reload the 8 round clip. Semi-automatic handguns, which were used with 10 round magazines in the worst school shooting to date, have been mass produced for public consumption for well over a century. There is not now and has never been a shortage of firepower available to those who would misuse it. Whence comes this new emergency?

Perhaps we should not look so closely at the tools used by school shooters, which have been both varied and widely available for decades, but instead upon the miniscule group that chooses to horribly misuse them. Perhaps we should look at the factors which demonstrate violence to these unnaturally pliable minds and indoctrinate them in its use. Perhaps we should turn our gaze toward the multi-hundred billion dollar industries that heedlessly glorify violence.

We are not long past the revelation that huge numbers of people at the top of the entertainment industry got away with rape for decades. Their commitment to women apparently didn't extend far enough to prevent them from outright raping them or misusing power over them to extort sex. Bill Clinton wasn't terribly interested in calling them on it for obvious reasons, but strangely enough, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were silent as well. It's strange what 7 figure political contributions will do to your sense of right and wrong, I guess. But if Democrat politicians are willing to overlook rape among donors over a certain threshold, toward what else can money make them turn a blind eye? How hard would it be to convince yourself that your biggest contributor is right when he reinforces your bias that, "This horror is all because of those guns, and I'm really counting on you to keep the legislative focus where it belongs."

We have a very strong argument in the simple fact that of millions of Scary Black Rifles, tens to at most hundreds are used to commit crimes each year. Further, many of us here see their use in which the only casualties are our wallets and the stubborn fireants for whom the berm is like Asia in Risk. If they were inherently dangerous items, then the statistics would bear it out. What we see instead is that a tiny population of people, many of them young and all of them in need of aggressive help, is misusing tiny numbers of these weapons to horrifying effect.

Who taught those kids to kill people? Unless you live under a rock, it's not a secret. Why aren't we angry at them? Why are the same stars who are calling for universal gun bans unwilling to forego roles that glorify the misuse of guns to hurt and kill other people? Why are the studio execs who want AR15s banned unwilling to stop flooding the market with films whose characters use them to shoot one another? I support their right of freedom from government prior restraint, but there is no prohibition against the willful limitation of one's use of a potentially dangerous freedom. We who often carry pistols in public have entire forums devoted to the avoidance of issues related to our use of the RKBA, from safe storage, shooting safety, concealment to avoid alarming the new neighbors from California, et c. In stark contrast stands Hollywood's utter intransigence on the point of giving up revenue from violent films, even if doing so meant a decline in mass murder.

I have focused on the movie industry, but the gaming industry is also enormous. Activision Blizzard pulls in $7 billion per year and Electronic Arts nearly $5 billion. Their contribution is new, but they are not small players. Indeed, their contribution is even more alarming for two reasons. One, video games allow players to actually perform a violent act, rather than passively viewing it. Two, the realism of video games, in which increasingly realistic depictions of humans can be harmed (often brutally), has advanced at an unprecedented rate.

Warning: the following links are depictions of graphic violence from video games.

Wolfenstein 3D (1992):

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus (2017):

Both were considered gruesome at the time, but if you review them, you'll find that there really is no comparison. It is noteworthy that as mentioned above, we still haven't seen the correlation between violent acts and even these increasinly realistic depictions of violence among nearly all kids, but as we've established, only a tiny number need to be affected to be important. Those who are likely to be so affected, particularly among school shooters, share a number of identifiable traits.

This isn't meant to suggest that we need to suppress violence in art. For most of us, seeing violence is a strong deterrent against violent acts. Lee Marvin, whose movies were exceptionally violent for their time, was motivated by a desire to force people to confront the effects of violence. No normal person sees Schindler's List and walks away thinking, "I'd like to emulate that because it looked like fun." Art can and often does provide a powerful look at violence and its consequences which provokes appropriate horror and revulsion in normal audiences. But there are some that do walk away from violent media with a genetic or social background that renders them likely to see it as a tool and a source of personal fulfillment. Those people may be basket cases or they may benefit from a lot of help, but in either case we are clearly failing to take appropriate steps when we identify them. And while we do so, there is an entire industry with VERY deep pockets which makes huge amounts of money selling products that teach this tiny but deadly group how and why to kill.

Some kid used a gun that looked like mine when he shot up a school, but the carnage was straight out of your movie/video game.

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