Aside from the misogyny evidenced by the Elliot Rodger massacre at Isla Vista, there are broader cultural issues: mental health, affluent entitlements, and the rampant accessibility of guns. Put them all together and we have problems to address, but they are more akin to a culture run amok than to passing more regulatory laws.
Feeding this morass are two forces fighting for power and control, one led by conservative forces and the other led by progressive forces. Moderates are in the middle. Conservatives believe in free market forces and unbridled, but lawful, personal choices with small government and little regulation. In effect, the rule of law is for the “takers,” but not for the “makers,” the ruling class. Their political support is the GOP. The progressives and moderates, since the 1980s, have been drawn right-ward and rendered passive by conservative control of the media and the message.
In this conflict, conservatives are winning. More passion, more money, more control, and more planning are thrown in the fray. The end result is a culture of extremes, somewhat like the results of climate change, except heat has been imposed on the cultural climate, mostly by “carbon forces” being fed like greenhouse gases into our cultural climate by conservative forces. Generally the progressive “carbon force” has been captured and sequestered by more organized conservatives.
The results are much less of society’s capital being used for human resource problems: education, mental health, poverty, opportunity, job training – things that promote the common good, human investment, for example. We are so busy salving the needs of individuals, probably more anti-government than individual rights, that we forget about investment in people and our future – things that would take tax money and subsidies from the wealthy.
The Elliot Rodger massacre is just one of many symptoms. It’s like Hurricane Sandy, drought, violent tornadoes, and Katrina being a few of the symptoms of climate change. They are symptoms we can readily ignore after the initial headlines break.
Rodger, frustrated and troubled, was a member of “Pick Up Artist” forums like PUAHate.com, which cast blame on women for conquest problems. The current political climate tends to add to the misogyny problem with the GOP’s anti-women issues which attack “Planned Parenthood,” equal pay, education, and parenting – problems for women.
A shattered father, Richard Martinez, making a statement about his murdered son, Christopher, said, “Chris died because of craven, irresponsible politicians and the NRA. … When will this insanity stop?” Indeed!
We lost 4400 American military in the first seven years of Iraq. That is the same number of gun-related deaths in the US every seven weeks. Last year the Children’s Defense Fund said the number of teenagers and children killed by guns in 2010 was five times more than the number killed in Iraq and Afghanistan that same year. It is really no surprise when the U.S military and police officers have 306 million fewer guns than U.S. citizens – 4 million vs. 310 million.
Many states have “open carry” gun laws now, including Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, and Mississippi, laws that ALEC, with NRA and large corporate funding, drafts for GOP states. Incidents in popular restaurants of men armed with assault rifles have sent patrons scurrying for the exit. Outside a Dallas, Texas area restaurant, 40 armed men, women and children waited to intimidate the state chapter of “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America,“ which formed after the Sandy Hook Elementary School murders.
Media prioritizes war and terrorist threats, and we have been hammered with fearful news, reinforced with terrorism’s specter as a bogeyman. Furthermore, the conservative anti-government, anti-science and anti-spending ideology takes precedence over everything else. In the current defense budget, the GOP attempts to reduce funding for the EPA and thwart its efforts to regulate greenhouse gases, flirted with the idea of banning the Pentagon from climate change studies, and with some spite, killed environmentalists’ light bulb legislation.
We have a bunker culture which focuses on a mostly conservative agenda with people problems held hostage like everything else outside its power and control strategy.
Children mutilated by gunfire, friends and family racked by grief, the extremes of flooding, the vitriol and rancor of daily living, inequality, the paucity of good jobs – these are incidentals in the fight for control – a fight taking precedence over everything else.
So when the latest shattered father says, “Too many have died. We should say to ourselves – not one more.”
Will we, or can we, listen?