Freedom Fry

Look at that freedom fry! A collection of political hotlinks and original articles.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Michael Moore is a Genius

1:41 PM

ScaredI saw Bowling for Columbine a few years ago, when it first came out. I didn't pay much mind to Moore's premise that violence in America is caused by fear; I thought it was a good premise, but, but it didn't hit home until last night:

I was walking my dog at 11:00pm around my neighborhood. I live in a nice neighborhood, on the outskirts of a not so nice neighborhood. It's an urban neighborhood, but an area where young yuppies raise their kids. I wasn't particularly frightened to walk around alone, however, as I was stopped at the corner (while my dog was pooping in the bushes) a car drove by and I got the impression that they were checking me out to see why I was standing on the corner, near the bushes, suspiciously. I realized that I'm suspicious of people who do these kind of things too: a man walking alone at night, a lone man walking near lone children, two people play-fighting in the street, or having an argument. Even in general, I'm suspicious of people, I'm on the defensive,

I realized that I'm looking for trouble. I'm looking to see if something dangerous is going to happen to me or others.

Now it struck me that this is sort of abnormal. Why should I be so wary about my neighbors, my countrymen? This is not trust. This is not feeling safe.

The fact is I am acting out the shows I see on television. I am thinking about people as possible murderers or muggers to see if I need to run or be a hero. My imagination has gotten away from me.

Nearly all our television shows are based on violence: Crossing Jordan, CSI (Original, New York, and Miami), Law and Order (all three or four of them), Navy CSI, JAG, The Practice, NYPD Blue, ER. Most episodes of all dramatic TV shows are about "bad guys" killing "good guys." Most video games are about good guys killing bad guys. Most non-comedy movies are the same. Of course there's the new Reality TV phenomenon, and that isn't about violence or crime. Perhaps Reality TV will save our culture from fear.

We want exciting stories and one easy way to make a story exciting is to have it involve danger. Emotional or spiritual conflict is more rare, especially on TV.

The fact is, however, that crime is rare. Violent crime rates have dropped significantly since the 1970s. They have dropped about 55% since 1993, to 22 in 1,000 per year (USDOJ). Only about half were by strangers. Only about 4 people in 1,000 are victims of rape, robbery, murder, or aggravated assault by strangers (without simple assault) every year.

A parent's greatest fear—child abduction by stranger—almost never happens. Around 100-130 kids are abducted by strangers every year (Court TV).

I've seen hundreds of stories on TV about child abduction however, and hundreds more news broadcasts about the abductions that have happened.

We are freaking ourselves out, and we need to stop it.

America is known in the world as the rough country, the Wild West. We are known for our gangs, our swearing, and our cops—we are our violent movies to the rest of the world. We give off an image of toughness and we are believing it.

Our schools are plagued by violence, to the extent that kids in poor neighborhoods can't learn. My Mom, before retirement, was a teacher in public schools and she was continually confronted by intimidating kids trying to survive in the hell world we have created. A sixth-grader walked toward her in the hall and said, "Get out of my way, bitch." My Mom sent two students to the Principal's office for refusing to spit out chewing gum, and was told, "Look we have ambulances outside every day, I don't need to worry about petty infractions." The security guard got respect by threatening to, "Rip out your heart and stamp on it," in all seriousness. My Mom and another teacher had to teach a student how to swagger while he walked so that he wouldn't get beaten up: "It's like a winter coat, just wear it till you get home, and then you can take it off."

Poverty is creating violence. Rather than work towards ending this poverty and the causes of poverty, immediately, we are being entertained by it.

Americans' lives are safer than they've ever been. We've killed all the wild animals, and most of us have enough food to eat and a place to live. Now we have to learn how to live in this new world. Love thy neighbor as thyself.


Post a Comment

<< Home