Aurora and Sandyhook Killings; Our Denial and Apathy on Parade

27 Feb

Final Article in our series on Gun Violence in The Media

Our lives get so hectic, we forget to recognize that someone who is next to us. We are somewhat aware of whom they are yet we understand they might or might not share our schedule. Who are they? They may or may not frequent the places we go. Do we know them?  They may or may not be on a first name basis with these people. Regardless of familiarity do we really identify with them at all? Regardless of how acquainted we are, what is our response to them just the same? Do we consistently neglect to acknowledge them? Or can we claim to know them? This article is dedicated to those very people who make up some aspect of our physical environment whom we have yet to become familiar with.  Whether we acknowledge they are our neighbors or not we have to (at some level) admit we share something with them.  Until we get to know them better this paragraph will encourage us to make our eventual introduction to them so much warmer.

If you’re aware of the LIH’s series on “Gun Violence in the Media.” you may think after reading the first paragraph this article might be supportive of the kind of people we typically call serial killers.  In case you are wondering the article will not argue whether either James Eagan Holmes or Adam Lanza deserve our rage, pity, or sympathy. If you are unaware, during a midnight showing on July 20, 2012 the only man suspected of the mass shooting Holmes entered a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado then teargased, killed 12 people, and injured more than 58 others [1]. On December 14, 2012 Lanza entered the Sandyhook elementary school of Newtown Connecticut and killed twenty children and six adult staff members [2].  Before the school shootings, Lanza began the murder spree by shooting his mother at their home in Newtown.  The booby traps left for police, by Holmes at his home clearly demonstrate premeditation and a clear desire to add more killings to the initial event.  Lanza’s assault on the Connecticut elementary school and subsequent suicide distinguish immeasurable cowardice.  As much as we know, both men acted without remorse when they took the lives of individuals that didn’t know they were in danger.  It’s also evident that the killers were aware the body count would play well in the media after the event was over.  When the slaughter, investigators would find that Lanza was obsessed with the social impact of other serial murders [3].  But this is precisely why neither one of these individuals are us. We the chroniclers, mourners, survivors, and many still too traumatized to respond to the event, are left with little we can sympathize with and possibly less we understand.

Unlike us they were not able to understand that walking into a public space with those weapons was an immediate assault on the living privileges of others.  Unlike us they were unable convict themselves before the horrific events they would execute and find themselves wrong and guilty and or pragmatically seek a preventative intervention.   Unlike us they were unable to identify with the likely traumatized families who would out live their loved ones and never overcome these massacres.  These practices of empathy illustrate the compassionate norms that healthy individuals, unlike the ones we are discussing, are fully able to exhibit.

Organizations like the University of Cincinnati, the Ohio State University and Case Western Reserve University attempt to define the causes of mental Illness this way on their website http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/mentalhealth/mentalhelp.cfm. They say:

“If you have symptoms or a formal diagnosis of mental illness, remember that it is not your “fault.” Mental illnesses are not the result of character weakness. True illness cannot be overcome by willpower alone or by ignoring the problem.

Instead, mental illnesses are thought to result from the following contributing factors:

  • Biological factors – Mental illnesses are often hereditary, meaning that they tend to run in families like other forms of illness. Research into mental illness has also suggested the biological and medical roots of such illnesses.
  • Psychological factors – Various psychological factors, such as trauma suffered as a child or the loss of a close loved one, may contribute to mental illness in some cases.
  • Social factors – Certain social or environmental stressors may also contribute to mental illness. These may include life events such as moving to a new place or divorce and chronic feelings like low self-esteem, loneliness, or anger [4].

Ultimately anyone can suffer from mental illness, everyone has had some brush with mental illness and most of us will be lucky if we never are overcome by mental illness.  Some of us have fought mental illness and won brilliantly; others have succumbed miserably and have left a canyon of tears, misery, and pain in our wakes.  That being the case we should probably do all we can to support organizations as big as the American Psychiatric Association [5] or as small the wounded warrior project [6].   Gawking at crazy killers, wiped out victims, firearm stockpiles, and combative politicians will do little to keep the Aurora’s and Sandyhook’s (and all of massacres in between) from happening again.

Guess what; unbalanced people can do really unspeakable things.

But if we do our duty, we can catch the Holmes, Lanzas and the other pitiful souls we see in the media before they spin too far out of control.  We know life is filled with stresses, disappointments, obstacles, unfairness’s, poverties, horrors and struggles.  Does life need to be as cold, combative, competitive and cruel?  No.  But what we should do is be more attentive to our neighbors, donate our time, talents, and resources and testimonies to the people we encounter, and continue to invest in the notion that we all owe each other the best we can possibly offer.

Also view: Hollywood Morals on Violence

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Essential references:

[1] http://www.denverpost.com/breakingnews/ci_22389562/aurora-shooting-survivor-remodeled-century-16

[2] http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/us/connecticut-school-shooting/index.html

[3] http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/19/justice/connecticut-newtown-shooting/index.html

[4] http://www.netwellness.org/healthtopics/mentalhealth/mentalhelp.cfm

[5] http://www.psychiatry.org/about-apa–psychiatry/annual-reports

[6] https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org

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66 Responses to “Aurora and Sandyhook Killings; Our Denial and Apathy on Parade”

  1. Open Book February 27, 2013 at 2:10 PM #

    CR-

    U said:”But what we should do is be more attentive to our neighbors, donate our time, talents, and resources and testimonies to the people we encounter, and continue to invest in the notion that we all owe each other the best we can possibly offer.”

    Me: Great, article and very, very inspiring. I have a few questions for everyone. Do u think its possible to do right by our neighbor in a capitalist society? I stated this on Paris site, that many nutritionist believe a lot of mental problems is due to malnutrition. Also, that our diet of processed foods and meats not only has created a obesity pandemic but it has also depleted our cognitive thinking skills. Meaning our diet may be making us crazy. Do u agree or disagree?

    • Open Book February 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM #

      Here’s a doc. that might help.

      • Open Book February 27, 2013 at 2:23 PM #

        Here is a review of the doc.

        • Comic Relief February 27, 2013 at 6:28 PM #

          Again, this is an excellent documentary. One of the benefits of this blog is it gives audiences the ability to see or participate in discussing some difficult and sometimes complicated topics. At the very least audiences can watch different individuals (the participants of the blog) discuss from entirely different perspectives. Obviously like the (non-interactive) video this kind of back and fourth is difficult (or impossible) yet if we were to feature the topic on it’s own a full range of reactions might be possible.

      • Comic Relief February 27, 2013 at 6:28 PM #

        OB,

        Actually I love this documentary our diets do predict a great deal about our lives that we don’t recognize. Actually I would love it if we would concentrate on this topic independently so that we could give it as much more attention as we have the current topic. Hopefully we will consider this in the near future.

        Many of the statements made in the documentary are stunning, and I would love to spend real time discussing them.

        I would say my concerns (expressed in the article) have to do with media violence (against audiences), media literacy (for the illiterate masses) or other gawking culture. You’ve done great job highlighting many of these topics in the past.

      • ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

        Not seen this so I’ll have to bookmark it! I’m not sure whether diet can cause mental problems but I know it can exaggerate bad behaviour. I’ve see that with my own eyes!

    • Comic Relief February 27, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

      OB,

      Thanks for the compliment. I’m not a nutritionist or a psychologist yet if someone wanted to make an argument for poor nutrition being one of the “biological factors” that contributes to mental illness I would be willing to hear it.

  2. Open Book February 28, 2013 at 6:37 PM #

    Hi Everyone!

    • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 6:58 PM #

      Hi OB!

      I got a chance to watch the majority of the doc you posted and ITA that we are what we eat. Many people don’t stop to think about what happens to our bodies when we eat and what types of chemicals they become because of the reactions with nutrients already in our bodies.

      • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 7:26 PM #

        Hi Paris,

        Thank u for watching. U know whenever I hear people discuss mental illness not many bring up nutrition. Why is that?

        • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:00 PM #

          O.B.,

          I think it’s very likely that malnutrition can cause mania, disorientation, and violence if someone feels challenged physically.

    • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:04 PM #

      Hi Paris and OB,

      It’s great to see/hear both of you.

      • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 7:05 PM #

        Hi CR!

        Its great to “see” you too. 🙂

        • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:15 PM #

          Honestly,

          Both of you I would really like to hear your opinions. I heard Ozzie discuss weapons laws in Britain, which I greatly admire. What’s a society without civility?

          But unfortunately, I understand a population that has members who have survived so many kinds of tyranny (all over the world) say they want to be able to own guns.

          I honestly think a government, police force, or a gang is far less likely to kick down your door down if they think you’re behind it holding an assault rifle.

          Obviously less access to automatic carnage makers would have prevented Columbine, Aurora, or Sandyhook, but can either of you deny the rationale for everyone owning a firearm?

          • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM #

            I don’t deny anyone the right to own a firearm. If having that firearm in their residence allows them a sense of security then by all means have one. Don’t deny anyone their sense of personal security.

            However, I think that television programs on t.v. today are to blame for the mindset we are in. For example, on the BIO channel (Biography) there are programs titled Casanova Killers, Murder.com (the program focuses on homicides that were committed after two people that met on the net meet in real life) Mobsters, Gangsters and Hi-Tech Homicide Detectives.

            Also people like Adam Lanza, James Eagan Holmes very obviously had mental issues. Holmes booby-trapped his own apartment. Lanza was described as a loner and his mother thought that the government was coming after her and kept guns in their home.

            • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:39 PM #

              Paris,

              Your encyclopedia knowledge of T.V. astounds me.

              Yet people gawking at violence scares me too. I think you should turn away from some train wrecks.

              • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 7:50 PM #

                CR,

                Thanks but all i did was turn the t.v. on flipped to the BIO channel and went through the program schedule for the evening. I then turned it right back off.

                My point is the BIO is supposed to be all about people’s biographies not about murder.

                Also the travel channel which is supposed to be about TRAVEL and VACATION is about how much food one can eat without puking it back up.

                Its ridiculous.

                • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:54 PM #

                  LOL!!!

                • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

                  ITA Paris that is ridiculous. O.k. So here is a question. Given we have this type of murder buffet programming. How can consumers fight back? These media institutions would change the programs if there wasn’t an audience for them? Do u think people are too lazy, conventional or scarred to turn off the television or to choose different?

                  • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 8:08 PM #

                    I think its all three. Studios/stations put on t.v. what they think will sell also to control people. What’s the fastest way to change a person’s mind? Put it on t.v.

                    Scare/control the public into thinking that the only thing they can do nowadays instead of talking things out peaceably and opening a dialogue about issues is to handle issues with violence.

                    Its sad.

                    • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 8:11 PM #

                      I can’t remember where I read it but did you know that in England they removed all the colorful dye from M&M’s?

                      Apparently, the colorful dye is poisonous but the FDA won’t tell us that.

                    • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:18 PM #

                      That’s really sick. Yet thanks for sharing.

                    • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:20 PM #

                      Paris, you and OB are going to have to insist on a diet and nutrition series.

                    • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:24 PM #

                      OMG! That’s insane. Another reason I switched to a raw food diet. Did u know Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas and Arizona has rocket fuel in the tap water? Oh and before u say u drink bottled water the bottled water has even higher contents of rocket fuel in it.

                    • ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:29 PM #

                      Really? I kind of did not know that!

                    • ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:37 PM #

                      Ok, I just looked it up, I did know about it! It comes under E Numbers here and I remember it being discussed that certain numbers were going to be phased out or banned.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E_number#E100.E2.80.93E199_.28colours.29

                    • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:46 PM #

                      Crazy, crazy, crazy….

                      Obviously, Ozzie you’re going to have to join OB and Paris for a diet and nutrition series.

                    • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:54 PM #

                      When I said “Our Denial and Apathy on Parade”, I meant the root causes of many of the problems were not being searched for

                      Maybe we’re, as a group, actually getting somewhere….

                  • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:15 PM #

                    I don’t want to answer for Paris but I think what murder entertainment they can’t get on reality programming they get in the news shows instead. I don’t want to disrespect the families or victims, but Aurora and Sandyhook provide more murder than most programs dare to showcase each night.

                    I don’t want to point the finger but obviously we allow the networks to “titilate” us this way.

                    • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:36 PM #

                      It makes us buy more food and stuff to make us feel better. The advertising and media go hand in hand. Commercials help to pacify us after being terrified to death.

                    • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:39 PM #

                      Yes, I understand these event actually happened.

                      It’s hard to enter this topic without, eventuatly, being smothered in guilt.

          • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 7:36 PM #

            I’m going to paraphrase Paris’s statement “people kill people not guns.” I really think mental and nutrition really need to be taken seriously. Sure having protection is good but I think looking only at exterior issues that need reform is wrong. Meaning we need to examine both interior and exterior problems for real change to occur IMO.

            • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:52 PM #

              OB,

              I don’t deny theat exterior and interior motivations for violence should be looked at. As you have provided evidence for this, I am inclined to agree.

              I agree with Paris also, in that I’m sympathetic to people whom are fearful. But I ultimately think that people who feel vulnerable can’t and won’t be predicatable after they are pushed too far.

              I hope you don’t think I am apologizing for these individuals, I don’t think I am. But I would like the carnage to stop.

              • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:53 PM #

                I don’t really believe all the rumors but I think one of the reasons for the conspiracy theories is others want answers to.

                • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:53 PM #

                  • ozzie20 March 1, 2013 at 7:42 PM #

                    I’ve saved these ones too! 🙂

          • ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:50 PM #

            CR: Obviously less access to automatic carnage makers would have prevented Columbine, Aurora, or Sandyhook, but can either of you deny the rationale for everyone owning a firearm?

            Was this to me? I’ll answer it anyway, lol!

            Nope. Not in America. It’s far too early in it’s gun control history to even think that. The USA is not ready for it. It will probably take centuries of baby steps to finally get to that point. I think the only logical step at the moment is to make sure people who own them take responsibility for them (e.g. safe and secure storage, know how to use them properly, mental health checks etc).

      • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 7:27 PM #

        Hi CR,

        I realized I was early for the discussion so I stepped away for a bit.

        • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM #

          That’s fine. I’m still here. What’s your take on any of the questions I’ve posed.

          • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:34 PM #

            Since we’ve all took a stab at this general topic I was wondering whether we could collectivily generate a concensus for addressing this topic.

            I’m not sure what we all agree on? Maybe we don’t all agree but I’m still curious.

            • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 7:54 PM #

              This may sound a bit far fetched. Yet, it unnerves me that we’ve become a culture more into creating illusions of good health, sanity and success than actually doing the work to make sure our lives and community are healthy. I hope that made sense?

              • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:56 PM #

                Perfect sense to me. Thank you.

              • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 8:01 PM #

                That makes total sense. You know what’s happened to our society? WE”RE LAZY. We’re told that we don’t have to take responsibility for own problems, someone else will do that for us. Then we sit and wait for this someone to come along and they never do you because the someone is THE PERSON WHO IS WAITING. Did I make sense.

                • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:06 PM #

                  I call it the ENABLER culture. We love to be the victim and not take responsibility for our own actions or learn how to problem solve. People expect to get stuff without putting in the work, not taking chances but that’s how we learn. Heaven forbid not be perfect and fail. Why do u think people are afraid of failure?

                • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:07 PM #

                  Absolute sense! I wish all of my discussions were like this; I would be less nervous about them.

                • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:08 PM #

                  Paris-

                  U said: “Then we sit and wait for this someone to come along and they never do you because the someone is THE PERSON WHO IS WAITING.”

                  I love it! And u made perfect sense.

                  • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 8:16 PM #

                    Thank you!

  3. Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:22 PM #

    I have two people in my family whom are in psychological fields. I asked both to give me an idea of how people in that arena reacted to these mass shootings. I think I thought they would be sensitive to these events since people might claim this field obviously was not successful.

    Neither family (one a therapist the other a counseling psychologist) was able to prepare an answer that I could share with you.

    What would either of you make of this?

    • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 7:30 PM #

      Hmm! I don’t know. Let me think. Give me a second.

      • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:05 PM #

        I’ll keep on waiting,……. but (in the past) haven’t you made accusatory statements about that field, like the medical industry, being too dependent on the pharmaceutical industry?

        I’m sorry, I should not attribute that statement to you if I’m wondering that myself.

        • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:17 PM #

          Gosh! Do u forget anything i say? Hahaha! Yes, I have a mild aversion to the notion of using pills to treat illness. I can’t trust a field of doctors who are also being paid by the pharmaceutical industry. IDK I think there is a conflict of interest. I think doctors help us sustain our bad habits rather than cure us of the problem. They don’t help us be proactive but reactive. Does that make sense?

          • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:22 PM #

            Crystal clear sense actually. Thanks for being so candid.

            • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:39 PM #

              No problem! I do try…:0)

  4. Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 7:29 PM #

    LB,

    (I know you, haven’t signed in yet), but in recent history (the last few years) in Southern California there have been a few causes for Law enforcement to collectively resist safety hazards for the general population (meaning threat of gun violence). I know this is a pet interest of yours that you sometimes follow. Do you how the mental health fields support law enforcement?

  5. ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:13 PM #

    Hi everyone! 🙂

    What a thoughtful article, CR! Society does need to be more introspective, in my view.

    • parisienne February 28, 2013 at 8:17 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      • ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:56 PM #

        Hi Paris!

    • Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:25 PM #

      Hi Ozzie,

      Thank God you’re here.

      What took you so long?

      Thanks for the complliment, just dive in anywhere.

      • ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:55 PM #

        Hello CR!

        Sorry, I’m very tired and forgot. *blushes* Better late than never, I guess, lol!

    • Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:27 PM #

      Hi Ozzie!

      Nice to see u.

      • ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 8:57 PM #

        Hi OB! Nice to see you too!

  6. Comic Relief February 28, 2013 at 8:47 PM #

    Thanks everyone for coming to the discussion. Hope to speak to all of your soon.

  7. Open Book February 28, 2013 at 8:49 PM #

    Everyone-I have to go for the night.

    CR- U did a great job with this article and this topic is a great way to finish out the series. Discussing social responsibility is so tough I know. However, there is hope and help out there if people are willing to look beyond what’s easily accessible or popular and educate themselves. Sure we can sit back and blame the media, knives and gun laws, and mental health industries but the real responsibility are the choices we make. Ultimately, those little choices “you” make can have a huge impact on our environment.

    TC!

  8. parisienne February 28, 2013 at 8:56 PM #

    I’m going to head out for the night as well. Take Care!

  9. ozzie20 February 28, 2013 at 9:02 PM #

    I think I shall go too but I shall be back tomorrow hopefully! I also hope I won’t be as tired or as stressed and be able to think clearer rather than be in fear of repeating myself or confusing anyone, lol! Night all! 🙂

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