Monday, September 16, 2013

Washington DC Shootings media mania but no social analysis.

Shootings drive up ratings and ad cost probably
by Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

I have just returned to the Bay Area after a long weekend away up in Tahoe and am listening to the ongoing reports of the shooting in Washington DC where 13 people were killed at a Naval facility there. As is normally the case, there is very little known about the details. One shooter is dead but the authorities say there may be another.  The dead shooter according to the media is Aaron Alexis, a military contractor shot by the police. So far they are saying little else.

But what just amazed me was the report from a chief medical officer, a Dr. Janis Orlowski from the hospital that is treating three people in critical condition.  She spoke at length answering questions form reporters about all sorts of details even the type of weaponry used.  Then she started to say something about what this means to her.  She explained that she sees trauma every day working in a big hospital like hers.  Then she started to question why these events happen.  She said something about the evil of it and it seemed to me that she was getting a little emotional about it.  She said something about this evil and clearly saw it as different to the everyday trauma she deals with.

She was about to say something about how we as Americans need to look at or try to see why this is happening in our country and that we have to endure this sort of thing at work and it seemed clear to me that she was about to express her views and concerns about the society in which we live.  I couldn’t get any more info as suddenly, despite being in the spotlight and answering questions about all sorts of details for some time, and the news informing us about injuries and “multiple engagements with the shooter” and the heroism of the police and other specifics, CNN cut to another reporter.

I do not believe this was an accident.  The media spends hours reporting on all sorts of demoralizing scenes of mass shootings, murders, rapes, and abuse of all kinds.  Who shot whom when and how is big news.  The role of the police and the authorities in catching and killing the perpetrators is also big news, proof we are in a society where the “rule of law” is protected.  What is not acceptable is for someone with some social influence (a head of a huge medical facility) and with a huge captive audience to raise questions or comment on the, nature of society, the society we live in.

Readers may recall that the thug Margaret Thatcher stated that there was no such thing as society, she said, "I think we've been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it's the government's job to cope with it. 'I have a problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the government must house me.' They're casting their problem on society. And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first.”

Thatcher and her class keep their snouts firmly buried in the public trough and the taxpayers paid for her funeral.  This is true of all these people, British or American.  This is how hypocritical they are but more importantly, they do not want a discussion about society and how it works.

The US has more people in prison than any other country.  We execute children, we execute the mentally impaired; we kill each other at an alarming rate but this, or the crimes they are supposed to have committed are never attributed to “society”. We must not go there. We are all individuals and that’s it as Thatcher and her friend the “B” Movie actor Ronald Reagan argued, people who had pretty much everything given to them. We have mass homelessness, poverty, hunger, racism, you name it, but it’s all the fault of the individual, just a matter of making the right choices.

This news will keep people occupied for days. The details are being repeated, the number of dead, the shooter, interviews with the survivors and the “horror” they felt. The number of deaths and other information they will repeat over and over again throughout the day.  “I heard three shots, pow!pow! pow!” says one, “He was down the hall and he pointed the gun at us” says another as I heard her say before and the time before that. And they tell me the identity of the shooter again.

Obama just came on and described this as a, “cowardly act.”,  this from a man who authorizes drone killings without batting an eye. And now they are claiming this could be a workplace shooting as opposed to terrorism as the shooter was a navy man although authorities are not sure of the motive. Now Wolf Blitzer is nailing down the time the first gunshots were fired.

What won’t be asked is what is wrong with our society that mass killings like this occur almost every day, or what it is about our society that people feel so insecure, alienated and afraid?

At the motel we’re staying since our house caught fire they have the TV news on every morning when we go to the eating area for breakfast. I call it the “murder channel”. The first half hour or so is always filled with the various killings and acts human beings commit as capitalist society around them degenerates and becomes ever more alienating. It keeps us in a perpetual state of fear and bolsters the idea that we need to isolate ourselves further from an evil world. That was George W Bush’s best shot at analyzing events, all bad things are the results of “evildoers” and we should let the government get on with ridding the world of them as we isolate ourselves as best we can from each other.

Thatcher knows society exists and it has rules and laws and a structure that is in a constant state of flux.  We have a ruling class, and the laws of society are aimed at protecting and enforcing that rule.  It is the true nature of society, of an exploitative society, that must not be discussed because if we realize that society changes all the time, and that certain human behavior is very much related to how society functions, we are more conscious of reality and once we recognize that, we come to understand that, we see that what we do matters and that we can change it for the better.

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