It’s all your fault

Or so Douglas Keller, a professor at UCLA would have you believe.  Now, the “your” above only applies of you’re a male who owns firearms, or if you’re in the media.

UCLA professor of education and cultural critic Douglas Kellner argues that school shootings and other acts of mass violence embody a crisis of out-of-control gun culture and male rage, heightened by a glorification of hypermasculinity and violence in the media.

Now, before I continue, I will say that I’m not a psychologist, and as much my commentary should not be taken as that of an expert in this field.  Dr. Helen would be much more qualified to lay expert commentary on the (imaginary) issue of male rage than I would.  With that said, I think that Keller is full of shit, to put a very blunt point on it.

The one point that he does make that I will agree with wholeheartedly is that the news channels tend to glorify people like the VA Tech and NIU shooters by providing them with postmortem coverage and fame.  I refuse to participate in that game, which is why you won’t see any mass shooter (ever) mentioned by name here; I do believe that the media helps create these people by feeding their belief that if they kill a bunch of people in a shocking manner, they’ll be famous.  In that, I agree with Keller that the media is partly to blame for each and every one of these shootings.

The emphasis in the above sentence is “partly”, because ultimately the individual is responsible for his own actions.  No one, not the media, or the “out of control gun culture” made him pull that trigger.  He made that choice himself, and that’s where the ultimate responsibility lies.

That’s why I don’t buy into this notion of “male rage” or the “gun culture”.  Whenever someone talks about the gun culture in a negative light, it shows a great lack of actual knowledge of the American gun culture, which overwhelmingly is a culture of safety and responsibility.  In the real gun culture, the concept of taking out any form of anger on innocent people is something that would never be considered.  In the real gun culture, we recognize that you can’t actually solve your problems with violence and force, unless an outside force has initiated violence against you.

Kellner recommends stricter gun control laws; improved campus and workplace security; better guidance and mental health care on campuses and in communities; a reconstruction of education to promote programs advocating peace and social justice (emphasis mine – ed); and projecting new and more constructive images of masculinity.

Peace and social justice?  Would that be the same “peace and social justice” that the NIU shooter was interested in?

With that last point, I would be in favor of projecting “new and more constructive” images of masculinity in modern media, but I sincerely doubt that Keller’s ideas and mine of what constitute those images match up.

Whenever you have some mass shooting or a similar national atrocity, there will be hordes of people seeking to lay the blame for the killings at the doorstep of their personal cause, whether it’s “violent video games”, an “out-of-control gun culture”, or even “male rage”.  The problem with all of these people is twofold: first off that they’re grandstanding in the blood of innocent people is quite simply morally repugnant; secondly their actions remove the blame from the individual and place it on outside sources, thus assisting in abrogating further mass murders from responsibility for their actions as well.   By redirecting the blame away from the individual, these people (Paul Helmke, Jack Thompson, Douglas Keller, to name a few) are helping future mass murderers by telling them that they’re not responsible for their actions.


  1. Apparently it’s morally wrong to suggest that wider social problems can lead to nasty manifestations when mixed with unstable people.

    Duly noted, Friend Censor.

  2. Only when the wider social problems are largely imaginary and serve to remove the responsibility from where it truly belongs.

    I’m all for addressing how the media tends to glorify violence, but I don’t hold to the belief that violent media combined with the largely fictional “white male rage” is responsible for creating these people.

    You should know that pretty much goes against my core belief of individual accountability.

  3. I don’t think it’s reasonable to hold it responsible, per se, but that doesn’t make it blameless. There are many subtle shades of influence involved.

    One thing worth noting as relevant here is the symbolic value of firearms. All practical points aside, guns are a very potent power symbol. Many people who feel powerless in some fashion are going to reach out for something to alleviate this. Some of them are going to be chasing down weapons. Then you have people who are perhaps not the world’s most stable personalities, but still perfectly capable of passing psych screenings, armed and contemplating how to ‘seize power’.

    As sick as it is, murder is a strong assertion of power.

    So is there a social problem here? Probably. Depending on ones point of view, it may be that people are being systematically disenfranchised, that people feel they all deserve some degree of power, or that society makes them feel powerless. Regardless, the results are pretty much the same.

    Oh, and there’s also a point to be made about the “cult of hypermasculinity” thing. I’ve read about the subject some in the past, but I’d need to dig up more to recall much. What I do remember is that the “Wild at Heart” book was implicated.

  4. Your fault/my fault/his fault……. it matters not if it is the Man-In-The-Moon’s fault. The question is who will take care of me and mine if the flag flies. The anwer is still me. I’m still the only one I can depend on to be there and do whatever it takes to take care of me and mine. To deny me the most effective tool to do so because someone has a phobia about it is immoral.

  5. “projecting new and more constructive images of masculinity.”

    I shudder to think of what this lib’s ideal image of that is.

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