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Are mass killings becoming a new norm?

By Robert Mclean - posted Friday, 28 December 2012


Actions beyond what most consider normal resulted recently in the deaths of 26 people.

The mass shooting at the Newtown primary school in Connecticut, USA, unleashed a wave of emotion as the news broke that 20 of those killed were kids between the ages of five and 10.

The young man responsible, who first shot his mother at home before focussing on the school, ended this sorry episode when he shot himself.

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However, for a moment, let’s consider what happened at the Newtown Sandy Hook Primary School is in fact becoming the norm for it was the outcome of living in a society drenched with the idea that whatever is troubling you can be resolved through violence.

The educative and humanising processes of society are swamped by this idea to become a nation-wide characteristic that sees the United States embroiled in a hegemonic rampage around the world.

Blame rests unequivocally with the young man, but it seems diametrically unfair that he should shoulder the blame alone when the broader society of which he is a product sees violence as an attractive solution with guns as the preferred method of dispute resolution?.

The portrayed bravado of America’s wild-west from late in the 19th Century has transmogrified to a grotesque and bizarre sense of normal today in which many Americans, and some Australians it must be noted, feel a sense of vulnerability without a firearm in the house.

The young man was unquestionably troubled, but is it just to heap all the responsibility upon him and walk away comforted by the thought that there was nothing you could do when the young man and his behaviour is clearly a product of the society we helped create?

Many shocked by events at the school see themselves as pacifists, but stand with a government that commits similar, or worse, atrocities in other countries.

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Unable to explain it any better I quote Guardian columnist, George Monbiot, who said: “Like Bush’s government in Iraq, Barack Obama’s administration neither documents nor acknowledges the civilian casualties of the CIA’s drone strikes in north-west Pakistan. But a report by the law schools at Stanford and New York universities suggests that during the first three years of his time in office, the 259 strikes for which he is ultimately responsible killed between 297 and 569 civilians, of whom 64 were children.”

“Yet”, Monbiot writes, “there are no presidential speeches or presidential tears for them; no pictures on the front pages of the world’s newspapers; no interviews with grieving relatives; no minute analysis of what happened and why.”

That prompts the question: Are some children automatically more valuable than others in our eyes?

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