Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Blame Game

I understand the psychological need to put the VT tragedy in some sort of rationale box. It's simply impossible not to. But do the world of easily malleable minds a favor, and refrain.

It's easy to cast blame when there's a violent outburst. After all, if we can't blame X, Y, or Z, who can we blame? Ourselves? That means we, as human beings, are inherrently evil and bad and that's just not true.

Or is it?

In school, we read a great book called The Lucifer Principle. It looks at many aspects of violent behavior and, in particular, group dynamics in natural settings (primates, wolves, etc., etc.) and compares the same dynamics to similar human traits.

The author's findings are incredible. Case study after case study illustrates what many don't want to hear: when the circumstances call for it, people can choose to do awful, harmful things to other people. And it's not isolated events of one person willfully murdering another out of cold blood. It's bigger stuff, like ethinic cleansing and the like. Stuff that required a shift in culture to essentially make themselves believe what they're doing is correct.

It's much easier to point the finger at someone else than it is to youself.

Now, to the point.

Immediately after the VT massacre, it seems two major areas of blame have been created to better shift the "cause" of the tradegy: Video games and gun control.

It's an all-too-familiar argument. A young guy (can't recall any female shooters) goes into a school and coldy, calculatingly murders his classmates and teachers. Then, usually, turns the gun on himself. It's sad and depressing. But it's not the video game industry's fault. If it were that easy, I'm a suspect. In fact, I'm guessing 75% of guys my age could be suspect. Why? Because we play video games. Or at least have played the games in question at some point.

"But," opponents argue "these violent videogames predispose these troubled young men to violence." While that might be true on a (very, very limited) case-by-case basis, attacking an entire industry isn't the answer. Face it, game developers are meeting a demand. At our very basic, visceral insticts, is the will to survive and protect our camp/family at all costs. If we all didn't have this deep-down humanistic need in the first place, violent video games wouldn't exist.

Further, what about the other killers? You know, the one's that mow down offices full of coworkers? Where's the video game blame for that? It doesn't exist. Why? Because they don't play them. But did that stop them from loading up a couple .9 mm's and automatic rifles and storming their cubicles? No. So...what do they blame then? Usually workplace stress. How come none of the "experts" are blaming school stress? There's plenty of it, whether it's from the emotional or physical side of it.

So why video games? It's an easy target. And before video games it was movies. And before movies, it was books. Hell, books are STILL routinly banned in schools. It's absurd. The argument doesn't hold water; it's too easy.

Okay. Gun control. Namely, gun control critics. They propose that if guns were better controlled, these tradgedies wouldn't occur. Of course, the flip side of the coin says that if guns were less controlled and more readily available, these situations wouldn't have become so out of hand because citizens could fight back.

Now, I'm not a gun owner, so I don't really have a side. On the one hand, I agree that, theoretically speaking, fewer guns means fewer murders. However, I'm not so naiive as to think that guns would just disappear. In fact, I have a feeling that restricting guns even more so would just promote a very large black market, which makes gun use more rampant and easier access. Just look at heroine and cocaine: once designer, extremely expensive drugs, their black markets have encouraged lower priced, lower quality product, which then results in a boom of new users. The exact opposite effect the War On Drugs was looking for.

I guess I'm more on the control side of things, as I don't believe an amendment instituted in the 18th century really has the same meaning anymore. At the time? It made perfect sense. The U.S. separated itself from England and fought for its independance. That was then. Kind of a lot has changed since then.

Regardless of which side of the gun control issue I lean, the fact of the matter is that people will continue to do horrible things to one another. It's unfortunate, but it's a fact. It has been for thousands of years. Is it hard to accept? Incredibly. So, what can we do about it?

This is the tricky part, because it's no so cut and dry. Maybe instead of pooling our countries resources into a defensive position, we spend a little (which, relatively speaking, is a LOT) on societal and community programs that help our people instead of ostricize them. It's in blatantly plain terms, I know, but still, can't something be done without focusing on such a short term fix?

Is it just a pipe dream? Or do we, as we have for thousands of years simply accept it?

Monday, April 09, 2007


It's happened again. My sister-in-law, whom my wife just got into contact with after a 20 year silence (she was given up for adoption-the sister-in-law, I mean) and met her two adorable kids, defrauded us out of $1,500.

"Hello. I'm your long lost sister. Nice to meet you. Hey, is that a check book?"

We called the bank. Then we called the cops. Then we filled out a crime report. Then they arrested her. Then they let her go.

Then she goes and does it to us again, this time for $3,000!

And now it looks like Jaime was in on it because it was the same person doing the fraud.

So there's little inferences and innuendos from the US Bank Risk Management team that charges might be pressed against my wife of all people for co-conspiring to commit fraud.



We. Can't. Win.

How do you prove that you WEREN'T doing something wrong when the thing your "supposedly" doing wrong is actually the right thing in the first fucking place?

I haven't unclenched my teeth since 11:30.