Why So Violent?

Recent events, featuring shootings by police, shootings of police, children shooting themselves, parents shooting children, and, just in general, a whole lot of shootings, makes me ask, why are we so violent in the United States?

It’s not the guns—or, rather, not just the guns that you can find in around a third of all US households. I suspect it may have something to do with the culture of violence we invite into our homes every night.

I just took a look at the prime-time TV schedules of the five major networks for 2015-16, and, depending on how you want to count it, I see that of the roughly 90 hours of prime-time TV available each week, you can watch a show that features crime or violence as a regular part of the show during something like 39 of those hours.

Sure, the numbers of both prime-time hours and violence-based shows fluctuate throughout the year, but the ratio remains relatively constant: roughly 40% of the network prime-time schedule consists of violence based shows.

Gun control isn’t the answer. Censorship isn’t the answer. I don’t know what is, but it does seem that we have a violence-addicted culture.

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One Response to Why So Violent?

  1. Mr. Peabody says:

    As I read your post I begin to feel that you were going to sum up all of the violence problems by blaming it all on TV. But then, you didn’t. Or did you?

    I grew up in a religious sub-culture that did and does blame every social ill on television. Certainly TV does not help much with social ills such as violence, and, I would argue that it even promotes it, but I believe that we still live in an age where entertainment tends more to reflect reality than the other way around. Said another way, TV shows us what we want to see.

    I watched a documentary serveral years ago which suggested that, Canadians own more guns per capita than we do in the U.S.A. and their total death rate for the entire country, at that time, from both assaults committed with guns and suicides committed with guns, together, was something like one tenth of of NYC’s death by gun violence, not including suicides.

    The question that was asked many times in that presentation was the same as yours, why are we so prone to violence? Even if television, as we know it today, had never been invented I firmly believe we would still be where we’re at. Bear in mind that we are definitely not the only culture that seems always on the verge of using extreme violence to solve its problems – can you think of any others? Umm, let’s see. Seems like there’s a few middle-eastern countries that may be, possibly, slightly worse than we are when it comes to resorting to guns as the penultimate solution for every perceived threat, including just threatening my personal ego or belief system, not necessarily threatening my life.

    While there are no simple answers that I can think of, it does have something to do with our roots. We did blaze westward with help, in large part, from the gun. In that time it was basic and primitive. We killed to eat and we killed so that we and our families had a greater chance of being alive the next day, and regarding the later, we killed both animals and fellow humans. And, while I’m sure there is some inkling of truth portrayed in dramatization of the proverbial old west, where people did, on occasion, kill each other over ego maniacal issues in the moment, I like to think that, in reality, in those times, it was moments of kill-or-be-killed, and it was over food and/or land – primitive and obvious.

    In the meantime North American culture has arrived at a point where everyone has come to feel they and their respective ethnic and cultural people groups are being threatened, not so much the lives of the people in those groups, but more the egos, self-perceptions and inherent rights of the members of those groups. Also in the meantime, the strong and unapologetic individualism that I believe is the trademark of North Amercian culture, and which was the driving force that enabled Americans to expand westward against all odds, still remains strong to this day. And also in the meantime, the gun has remained in the inherent culture of what it means to be American.

    With the goals that follow contemporary ideologies, it is no longer a good combination [guns and the desire for a peaceful existance] and we’re stuck with some very disturbing and unimaginably complex conundrums. I would love to believe that the human race has finally arrived at a point where we no longer have to worry about governments over-ruling their citizens, nor about our homes being broken into by those intent on bodily harm, but I don’t think we yet live in that world. On the other hand, politically driven gun-rights activism is, in my estimation, nothing short of extremism and does absolutely nothing to help find any middle ground. And to simply handle the issue by regulating guns completely away will, I’m certain, set some very destructive [ironically] precedents for American culture and justice.

    By and large it is still theoretically possible to create a world where guns are still legal and at the same time totally unnecessary. (By comparison it would seem that our Canadian siblings begin to approach this.) But, extreme social reaction to violence committed with guns [understandably] creates the urge to quickly solve the problem in a way that will obfuscate the rights of many, and leave that group feeling helpless agains all comers, be they governmental or civil, and I believe that the mindset of this group would lead to outcomes even less desirable than what we’ve got now.

    I get the weird feeling that the only real solution to the violence inherent in North Amercian culture is going to be a massive change of heart. Any ideas on that? Otherwise I do believe that we will continue to live and die by the, “Way of the gun”.