People Don’t Kill People, Americans Kill People

Yes, of course, every day that Congress goes on refusing to ban guns is more blood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. It’s immoral, disgraceful, embarrassing, and in large part a function of financial corruption. But it’s also in part a government operating within a culture of violence — albeit one that the same government plays a huge role in creating.

U.S. movies, tv shows, video games, music, news, and schools are uniquely and increasingly violent. Primates’ chief form of behavior is imitation. Humans are no exception to that rule. Human cultures that have not known stories of mass-murder have also not known mass-murder. Anthropologists have studied cultures in which people have had an absolute taboo on taking human life.

U.S. culture floods us with the acceptability of violence. Check out Heidi Tilney Kramer’s Media Monsters: Militarism, Violence, and Cruelty in Children’s Culture for a catalogue of horrors that extends from the normalization of torture in G-rated movies to the celebration of war in song lyrics. Kramer quotes some experts:

“The University of Michigan’s Dr. L. Rowell Huesmann says that ‘every exposure to violence increases the chances that some day a child will behave more violently than they otherwise would.’ A 17-year longitudinal study showed that ‘teens who watched more than one hour of TV a day were almost four times as likely as other teens to commit aggressive acts in adulthood.’”

Other causal factors may correlate with watching TV (or computer) screens, but the main problem is clearly what is being shown on those screens. Kramer quotes from a 1999 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee report:

“With respect to television violence alone, a 1993 report by University of Washington epidemiologist Brandon C. Centerwall expresses a startling finding: ‘[If], hypothetically, television technology had never been developed, there would be 10,000 fewer homicides each year in the United States, 70,000 fewer rapes, and 700,000 fewer injurious assaults. Violent crime would be half of what it is.”

Many other factors contribute to a culture of violence, some improving, some worsening. Here are some that need changing badly right now:

  • Ban guns.
  • Halt the public investment, through the U.S. military, in some of the worst films and shows and videogames.
  • Get the disgusting violence out of U.S. entertainment and advertisements, or at least break the media monopolies to create the option for people.
  • Create a public health campaign to end the watching of television.
  • Get television out of classrooms.
  • Get JROTC and ROTC shooting ranges out of schools.
  • Get the machine gun range for kids out of Orlando.
  • Get state governments to end financial aid used to lure the production of violent films and games to their states.
  • Teach nonviolence nonviolently.
  • End a judicial system based on sadism, including capital punishment, solitary confinement, and mass incarceration.
  • End a foreign policy based on extreme sadism.

One way we could end the wars abroad that teach violence, train future killers, militarize police, proliferate weaponry, exacerbate racism, and drain resources would be to care about all the people killed every day in U.S. wars in foreign lands — to care about them in the way that we care (or, even better, the way we used to care) about U.S. victims of mass-shootings in the U.S. Terrorism has predictably increased worldwide throughout the war on terrorism. But that is without even including the increase in what’s not counted as terrorism, namely domestic U.S. mass-shootings by non-Muslims.

Wars find a lot of ways to come home.

Unless you end them.

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  • sometime

    This article is excellent. Banning guns won’t help lessen violence. The rest of what’s written will aid in less violence. Violence leads to more violence….That’s Truth. So teach it…throw the Us Military out…completely out…..Teaching people to kill other people is Wrong. that’s just what the military does…..The US is evil, having bombed 30 countries since the end of WW2….none of them threatening the US….that’s what is wrong with the US, right there….until that alone is changed, the US population will remain the world’s most criminal gathering of people on the earth.

    • iseeit

      I admire Davids anti-war position and agree with all of his proposals EXCEPT the call to ‘ban guns’.
      With a sociopath ‘government’ such as the ‘american people’ have been subjects of for so long…
      Banning our guns is truly a deeply sadistic (and moronic) suggestion.

  • lernin

    It’s also instructive to note that the increase of violence on teevee is a direct product of HOLLYWOOD. It has nothing to do with what “people want to see”. It’s a product – this is what you will get. Hollywood and the Mainstream Media is bent on desensitizing the US populace to blood, gore and violence. So far it seems to be working for them too.
    Simply turn off the stupid box – forever. Don’t feed the beast. There is absolutely nothing you NEED on the Teevee. Nothing.

    Regarding this latest of shooting sprees, until we can see the video footage of his man hauling these weapons into the hotel, listening to the government and media about what actually happened is just sheep nodding and bleeting. We’re still waiting for the video footage of that 757 that hit the Pentagon on 911. Remember the Pentagon? That most secure building in the US? The one with literally over 1000 security cameras? I’m sure the hotel has surveillance cameras. But we hear crickets on this. I’m curios as to why.

    Many of the weapons allegedly used in the attack are already illegal to own. Laws won’t change anything. But that second amendment is a real thorn in the side of a government who wants to disarm everyone.

  • Bob

    The government, or the deep state, is the biggest proponent of war. Mr. Swanson believes taking my guns away will change that? Does he believe that would make me safer or more secure? I admire David’s anti-war stance. But he is mistaken if he thinks we will be peacefully disarmed.

  • jadan

    You’re planning for a dictatorship of the anti-war left, Swanson. That’s where utopian fantasies usually lead. Take another path because this one won’t lead anyone where they want to go, even you! Here’s the solution: preach real democracy, where every vote is counted and the will of the majority is truly represented. Preach direct democracy where votes cannot be stolen, suppressed, or manipulated.

    Give the people what they want. I’ll tell you what the majority of people in this country want: they want peace! If this were a democracy and the will of the majority were faithfully expressed in policy, there would be gradual reductions in military spending, withdrawal of troops from foreign countries, nuclear disarmament negotiations, alternative energy, universal healthcare. Let democracy reign and you’ll eventually have your world without war.

    You’re going about it wrong, friend. You don’t believe in democracy and you don’t trust the people. You want a dictatorship of peace. You’re an elitist dreamer.