One of most peculiar and predictable rituals after mass shootings, such the recent Aurora event, is a public outpouring of “grief” and “outrage” over the event. Such public displays of “grief” and “outrage” have become more widespread in the internet era, especially now that almost every person has a presence on multiple social media sites, blogs, bulletin boards and Reddit. I however find such spontaneous displays of “grief”, “outrage” to be disconcertingly similar to the 2-minute hate in George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
I am certainly not the first person to notice that such public displays of “grief” and “outrage” have no proportion to the scale of a tragedy or the magnitude of a crime.
Why don’t we hear similar, let alone proportionate, levels of emotions about the victims of the so-called war on drugs? I have not seen many aging and impotent white suburbanites get all worked up about innocent people killed in raids to enforce drug prohibition. Ever heard those same hypocrites express any concern about the tens of thousands who have been tortured and killed since 2006 in the american-funded Mexican drug war? What about the casualties and impact of the ‘war against drugs’ in Colombia in the 1980s and 1990s? The best evidence of this failed ‘war’ is that the quality of coke has gone up and its cost has gone down. But “good” Americans still support a failed policy that causes far more suffering and death than some guy shooting up a theater in Colorado. Then there is the issue of increased militarization and lack of accountability of police in the USA. I did not read about such public outrage at the brutal police handling of nonviolent occupy wall street protests. If anything, I heard lots of talk by old decaying whites about neo-hippies, lazy youngsters and hipsters. People of the CONservative and LIEbertarian persuasion were almost cheering on cops in body armour beating up and pepper-spraying peaceful demonstrators and old women.
I have not heard much outrage about the hundreds of thousands of innocent people and children who were killed in Vietnam in the 1960s or Iraq in the early 2000s. Heck, most of the guys who did those things got medals and promotions for ‘doing their duty’ because it takes real courage and patriotism to go into some poor country which cannot threaten you and kill scores of people for an objective that nobody understands. The same can be said for those who fly drones over Afghanistan and accidentally kill those who just happen to be the wrong place at the wrong time. It takes real moral fiber and good old-fashioned american values to play video games which kill people while sipping on a 64 oz Slurpee after eating a cheese laden pizza in an air-conditioned room. But most people consider such people to be real patriots and heroes.
I could go on and talk about issues such as race based differential rates of arrest and sentencing. I could write many posts about the unnecessary suffering and death inflicted upon millions by money hungry and narcissistic physicians and for-profit healthcare. I could write books about how the lives of millions are destroyed by short-sighted corporate policies, stupid and greedy bosses and socioeconomic beliefs that have no relation to human needs and desires. But guess what.. very few people express disapproval let alone grief, anger and outrage at such egregious abuses which screw over and end the lives of millions of innocent people.
But then they get all angry, sad, lynch-mobby and outraged when some guy kills 12 people in a movie theater.
What do you think? Comments?