This video is from the film Bowling for Columbine by Michael Moore: interview with singer Marilyn Manson, blamed in the United States media for the Columbine massacre. The interview mentions the Yugoslavia war; a more likely cause of that mass murder than rock music.
By David Walsh in the USA:
7 April 2009
Ten years ago this month two students opened fire on their classmates and teachers at Columbine High School near Denver, Colorado, killing 13 and wounding 23 others, before committing suicide. The event, although it was hardly without precedent even then, horrified the nation. Newspaper editors and columnists, self-proclaimed experts on school violence, pundits of various types all weighed in, but their analyses offered little insight.
President Bill Clinton remarked, “Perhaps we may never fully understand.” He added, “Saint Paul reminds us that we all see things in this life through a glass darkly, that we only partly understand what is happening.”
Clinton also said that people should learn from Columbine that violence does not solve problems. However, this in it itself correct statement by Clinton was hypocritical because of the circumstances under which it was made. At the time of Columbine, Clinton’s administration was waging war on Yugoslavia. One of the Columbine murderers, Eric Harris, was from a US Air Force family. Harris had wanted to join that war (not mentioned in the extensive Wikipedia article on the Columbine massacre; not mentioned in most punditry on Columbine); but the US Marines had turned him down for medical reasons.
After the massacre, Greg Butterfield wrote:
Yet on the same day all that hot air was being pumped in Washington, a revealing admission came from Columbine High School officials. Klebold’s and Harris’s English teacher had warned their parents a month before the shootings about the violent character of their sons’ writings.
Why was nothing done?
When the teacher learned that Harris’s father was a retired Air Force officer and that his son hoped to enlist in the military, the teacher concluded that the essay “was consistent with his future career aspirations.” (New York Times, May 11)
Democrats, Republicans and the media condemn violence “in general” while carefully avoiding any mention of their involvement in the brutal U.S./NATO war targeting civilians in the Balkans.
If the Marines would not have turned down Harris, then he might have killed Yugoslav children and teachers (perversely considered “enemies”, though civilians) like he fired at Columbine children and teachers. And Harris might have gotten a military medal for it.
The David Walsh article continues:
Two years ago, also in April, a student at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia killed 32 people and wounded 17 others, also before turning the weapon on himself. The official experts again provided their generally banal and superficial opinions. President George W. Bush commented, “It’s impossible to make sense of such violence and suffering… In times like this, we can find comfort in the grace and guidance of a loving God.”
In the past month, an eruption of violence in the US has accounted for the deaths of 53 people in seven mass shooting incidents. In response to the worst of these tragedies, the murder of 13 people in Binghamton, New York, President Barack Obama issued a statement in which he said, “Michelle and I were shocked and deeply saddened to learn about the act of senseless violence in Binghamton, New York today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families and the people of Binghamton.”
Changing what needs to be changed, the response of the Obama administration is identical to those of its predecessors: uncomprehending, vacuously pious and, in the end, indifferent. No one in Washington cares to say the obvious: That the slaughter is a symptom of a diseased social order.
As for the pundits, the tragedies that all too rapidly succeed one another in the headlines barely stir them into taking up column space or airtime. The comments and attempted explanations become ever more perfunctory.
The New York Times published a brief editorial in response to the massacre that began the recent wave of violence, a rampage in southern Alabama March 10, urging Congress “to reinstate, in tightened form, the national assault weapons ban that it let expire in 2004.” Since then, not a word.
The Washington Post, in the aftermath of the Alabama, Carthage, North Carolina and Binghamton shootings, editorialized: “No one may ever fully understand what kind of fury or demon gripped the gunmen.” The Post too called for tighter gun laws and left it at that.
For their part, the cable television channels, in their pursuit of viewers and ratings, seek to transform the coverage of the carnage into something approaching entertainment, with lurid headlines and promises of “in-depth” coverage that never materializes.
That a human being might suffer a mental collapse under extreme conditions is an element of everyday life. That seven individuals pick up multiple, extremely lethal weapons and attempt to blot out as many lives as they can, often before taking their own, is a phenomenon shaped by social and historical circumstances.
The present socio-psychological environment, in which so many individuals, deranged though they may be, can cause the massive suffering and death of innocent people without flinching, cannot be accounted for without reference to recent trends in American life.
Such a state of affairs must be bound up with the decades of political reaction in the US, rooted in economic decline and characterized by the promotion of force as the solution to all problems, the encouragement of militarism and chauvinism, the worship of “free market” ruthlessness and selfishness, and a popular culture pervaded by brutal imagery and lyrics. …
The economic crisis is undoubtedly exacerbating these tendencies, as it places the psychologically vulnerable under far greater than usual stress. All the more under conditions where America’s social safety net, highly porous at the best of times, has been shredded by Republican and Democratic governments at every level.
A Florida social agency reports that “as a direct result of the economic crisis” domestic violence centers have reported a 37 percent increase in demands for services.
A University of Buffalo news release in January cited the comments of Sampson Blair, a family psychologist at the school: “Family murder-suicide is still relatively uncommon, but I expect an increase in such incidents over the next few years because economic strain on families provokes depression and desperation.”
Blair added, “The economic situation also portends a significant increase in other forms of family violence, including spousal and child abuse, child neglect and other forms of dysfunctional behavior like substance abuse. What makes this situation even worse… is that there is also a clear association between suicide rates and the state of the larger economy.”
Job loss has been a factor helping to trigger a number of the recent mass shootings.
A study reported in the American Journal of Public Health in 2003 found that unemployment is the single strongest predictor in cases where men murder their wives. An abuser’s lack of employment increased the risk fourfold, the research found.
2-YEAR-OLD ACCIDENTALLY SHOOTS, KILLS MOM WITH CONCEALED GUN KEPT IN HER PURSE “Veronica Rutledge and her husband loved everything about guns. They practiced at shooting ranges. They hunted. And both of them, relatives and friends say, had permits to carry concealed firearms. Veronica typically left her Blackfoot, Idaho, home with her gun nestled at her side. So on Christmas morning last week, her husband gave her a present he hoped would make her life more comfortable: a purse with a special pocket for a concealed weapon.” [WaPo]
A TODDLER HAS SHOT HIMSELF OR OTHERS ONCE A WEEK THIS YEAR “[There are] at least 43 instances this year of somebody being shot by a toddler 3 or younger. In 31 of those 43 cases, a toddler found a gun and shot himself or herself.” [WaPo]
A CHILD HAS DIED OF GUN VIOLENCE EVERY OTHER DAY SINCE SANDY HOOK And that’s only a fraction of gun deaths each year. [Nick Wing, HuffPost]
A GENERATION WITHOUT MASS SHOOTINGS How Australia has prevented mass shootings after landmark gun laws established in the wake of the Port Arthur massacre, which left 35 dead. [Tory Maguire, HuffPost Australia]
Just 3% of Americans own nearly half of all guns, survey finds: here.
BALTIMORE’S TOP DOCTOR: WHY DON’T WE TREAT GUN VIOLENCE LIKE A PUBLIC HEALTH CRISIS? “In the same way that we wouldn’t hesitate to talk to individuals about Ebola, about measles, about heart disease ― those are also health conditions that are affecting our patients and potentially could be taking their lives. Gun violence is such an issue as well.” [HuffPost]